| Food

Betty Bakes!

Recently I have been entertaining the idea of a new profession for Bumpkin Betty… or at least another profession to have on the side… its always been a dream of mine to own a little tearoom or cafe and serve homebakes on vintage high tea trays and tea in Alice in Wonderland esque crockery… I know everyone is doing it now and with the recession its suddenly all fashionable to be hosting dinner parties and baking all day like the perfect housewife… but I had this dream way before The Hummingbird Bakery launched a cook book…

It all started when as a kid I used to help my mum bake for the regular coffee mornings in the village and for the Saturday market where we would sell our creations to the old dears and screaming children… then it became a tradition to make Christmas cakes for all the elderly neighbours and I would spend hours perfecting my icing into soft peaks to resemble snow… Home Economics at school was like an extra Art class for me and I gained top marks for the way I piped my meringue on my Lemon Meringue pie… It may sound like I’m boasting here and I assure you I’m not, I was most definitely not the best cook in the world but I like to think of myself as a creative soul and for me baking was another platform in which to showcase my artistic flair, so no matter how bad it tasted… it always looked good!

Nowadays, for me baking is one of those many enjoyable pastimes which I never seem to get the time to indulge… I have perfected certain recipes over the years such as a mean sponge cake, a hearty apple crumble, and mince pies at Christmas but its been a long time since I found the time to experiment with recipes… that was until recently when the call for my bakery skills suddenly increased significantly…

First of all one Sunday afternoon I made fruit scones… I can’t remember why I made scones or if there was any particular occasion involved but I made scones all the same and they were just about the best goddamm thing I could have ever imagined eating on a Sunday afternoon… they were big, all knobbly like rock cakes, crunchy on the top, soft in the middle, full of raisins and served straight from the oven and still warm with strawberry jam and a dollop of cream… heaven! (ok now I am boasting but it was so unexpected that I was more than a little pleased with myself)

Next came the idea for a tea party at work to raise money for ginger boy and his marathon running and I found myself baking once again…

Then only a week later… ginger boy’s mum hosts another fundraising event with all his family and ginger boy enlightens me that he is planning to try a new recipe and bake a red velvet cake… well clearly BB could not be outdone on the baking stakes by something as poncy as a red velvet cake and before I knew it we had entered into a full blown Bake – off!
Now if you havn’t heard of a red velvet cake (I hadn’t) it is basically a sponge cake to which you add red food colouring turning it red and then once baked divide it into 4 layers and put cream cheese icing in between each layer and all over the top… pretty easy to do if you ask me and faaar too poncy for my liking… so I decided to go with a fail safe traditional apple pie, thinking I could win straight off with all the older guests who wouldn’t go in for any of this new age fancy nonsense and then lure the rest of the guests with my skill for presentation… also because I knew that while ginger boys might taste good I could pretty much bank on it that he wouldn’t care much when it came to presentation…

If it had been a proper contest I would have won points straight away on not going over budget… spending a mere £4 on some cooking apples, sultanas and pastry ingredients while ginger boy forked out nearly £20 on three different types of cream cheese for his topping, coconut, strawberries and god knows what else…

While he faffed about with electric whisks and blenders and got stressed when his mixture was lumpy… I remained cool, calm and collected, my pastry turned out perfectly and I arranged my apples as if it was a work of art… For the top of the pie I decided to jazz things up a bit and cut out lots of star shapes (by hand!!!!) rather than the traditional pastry lid. I could see ginger boy giving me the evils as I arranged them so neatly…

I was feeling pretty smug when I saw ginger boy icing his cake while the sponge was still warm causing red crumbs to mix with the white icing (presentation shall be my saviour) and nearly cracked up when he picked the biggest strawberry he could find and just threw it on top…

Of course as you can see from the pics my smugness was a little pre mature… while the apple pie was uncooked and could just be marvelled at as a piece of artistic genius it looked great… I hadn’t really considered how it would look once it was baked… which as it it turned out was not so great… the pastry was a bit thin, the apples sunk and the stars made it look like one giant mince pie… miraculously ginger boys had turned out looking pretty good… the coconut had hidden the red crumbs and it now resembled one giant snowball…

The winner would be decided upon purely by which one got eaten the most at the party… which wasn’t entirely fair as the party consisited of all ginger boys family and he simply bigged his up so much during the main course that they were all dying to try this famous red velvet cake! Gosh and I work in PR… how could I forget the power of hype? Anyway ginger boy declared himself the winner, although by the end of the night it was pretty evenly matched and I most definitely won on presentation, budget and time but you know… who is keeping score!

Finally this weekend, with the sun shining I made some mega cupcakes and despite the fact I burnt them a bit on top, the lashings of pink and white butter icing and lots of sprinkles, marshmallows and smarties ensured no-one noticed…

So perhaps Betty Bakes Cakes isn’t quite ready to launch as a full scale business… just a few minor teething problems… but practice makes perfect right? maybe I just need to find someone who can make excellent tasting cakes but is terrible at the presentation, then we could be a dream team! Any takers?

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