It was funny, but today I was thinking about how I usually spend my Sundays. For the more than 12 years (until August last year when my Mum suddenly passed away) my Sundays normally started off the same way 1. Doing the weeks washing and 2. Spending time with my Mum. I would go up to see her or she would get on her mobility scooter and visit me. I am sure there were Sundays’ that were different, but none spring to mind. Now my Sundays consist of 1. Doing the weeks washing (some things never change) and 2. Baking.
I wonder what Mum would have thought of this sudden baking spurt and the blog? I know Mum would have enjoyed my baking antics but she would have said it wasn’t good for her or my figure. She would have been correct. The blog – well she was an amazing writter having puplished books both of herlife and inspirational poetry, but I think she would have been pleases. Mum would certainly have been proud that her dyslexic daughter, who didn’t start reading till 12, and who got negative four for a spelling exam at school cert level was having a go at writing. She never gave up on me.
I remember years ago Mum got the bug to bake bread once a week. She stopped when both she and I put weight on. Dad and my brother remained skinny – much to her disgust. Not fair she would have said! But while it lasted – hot bread with lashings of butter and dad’s blackberry jelly mmmmmmh. Delicious!
I don’t think we ever brought shop made jam when I was a child. I have no memory of that. But I do have vivid memories of all four of us going blackberry picking. Not at a berry farm! But wherever dad had seen blackberries growing along the road. Armed with buckets we would all start picking. Dad would always take a long heavy stick with him – it had two purposes first to whack the ground and blackberry brambles to encourage any snoozing snake to take off ( yeah!) and second to hold the brambles down so we could reach each and every berry. We would return home grubby and berry stained with purple hands and mouths, scratched up arms and legs, sunburnt faces and bellies were full of berries.
Anyway today I was struggling. I miss my mother. I miss my old Sunday’s. I wish she was here to laugh at my baking fails and to laugh when Pippin licked off the icing of an unguarded cake. My grief for her remains so sharp. Unlike the grief for my father and brother which has softened around the edges. Enough! Enough self-pity! Time to put on music, time crank up the volume and bake! Lets make that bake and sing.
Later: Todays baking went pretty well. First up was the Peanut Shortcake biscuits with the most delicious dulce de leche caramel with salt and chopped peanuts.
I didn’t make the dulce de leche from scratch but I made it from boiling a can of condensed milk for 4 hours. This is so easy you just need to keep topping up the water so ¾ of the tin is covered, and make sure you have air vents or the can will explode. I brought a ring pull so that was easy – I just pulled it open a little. Otherwise punch a couple of holes in the top of the tin with nail and hammer. I also suggest making this the night before – I did. The only issue I had was that despite constant stirring of the caramel once de-canned it was still a bit lumpy. Pushing it through a sieve fixed that.
Also never ever put this caramel on toast! I did! It was divine!!! So divine that I had to go to bed to stop eating it!! Yum, yum, yum.
I recommend to double the toffee mixture for the peanuts. I had to make three batches of toffee. Why? Well the trick with the toffee is DO NOT take your eyes off the water and sugar while making it. I did. Result – one saucepan of burnt toffee. Hence 3 batches.
But I did learn that toffee comes off super easy if you fill the saucepan with more hot water and detergent and heat on stove while gently scrubbing. The toffee – burnt or not will just melt away.
The recipe said to drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the biscuit and then put the toffee peanut on top. I was puzzled – surely the peanut would just fall off as a drizzel wouldn’t be enough to stick it down – but I followed the instructions. I was right the toffees peanut just fell off – not enough chocolate. Be generous and cover the top with melted dark chocolate, then put on the toffee peanuts. To finish give the biscuit a flourish by drizzeling with white chocolate. Perfect!
The MOTH arrived home just as the chocolate had finished setting and I made him eat one. Verdict? “These are man size biscuits! A meal by themselves.” ( I had cut each biscuit out with a red wine glass) “ Yes but do they taste ok?” No reply – the MOTH is currently fighting off Pippin and Pansy who were trying to eat it. So a success!
HINT: This is a perfect and very pretty biscuit to make for a special afternoon tea. As the biscuit doesn’t expand you can cut them to size. Next time I would make them into tiny one bite size biscuits. A liquor glass would be a perfect size to cut them out with.
While the biscuits were cooking I got all the ingredients for the Chocolate Fudge Cake ready. I felt like e pro. I felt like a baker on a cooking show who is demonstrating how to make a cake to their TV audience. They always have their ingredients measured and weight, and waiting in individual bowls. They never have flour flung all around the kitchen with their cake mixture. Their benches don’t look like a cake bomb has been dropped. Their benches look pristine. Now I too had everything ready to go, in different bowls. My benches were wiped down. Pristine! For the first time I was fully organised and ready to go. I felt smug. What could go wrong? Probably everything – I thought.
But nothing. Nothing went wrong at all – amazing!!