Diary, day fifty-nine

I’m up to my eyeballs in cake again.

Did you see the one I made for Wednesday?

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Granted it’s not my very best work, as always I look at it & all I see are the flaws… but I am still pretty pleased with it.

I’m hoping the receiver liked it too since it was supposed to be a surprise.

All those little red things sticking out are hearts.

I don’t have much to say right now. This basketball themed cake that I’m working on is taking up all my concentration & energy. I just wanted to check in quickly.

Diary, day fifty-eight

Remember the blueberry buckwheat loaf I made for the tutorial the other day? Well, I experimented with freezing it to see how well it could be brought back to life.

Let me just tell you, the results were amazing!

I defrosted it in the fridge, cut it into slices, toasted it & made these sandwiches.

Grabbed a couple cold ciders out of the fridge & wrapped them in ice packs… & headed down to the beach.

Nothing better than a picnic on the beach after a beautiful swim. The weather is gorgeous too… it’s beautiful, sunny & hot without being so hot you want to melt.

& a nap under the trees is perfection. That’s all I have to say.

Diary, day fifty-seven – spinach tortillas & chicken fajitas

Ok, I’m a little disappointed with myself. I usually take great pride in photographing the end result so I have a beautiful image to start off my tutorial with & then I get to show it all off at the end so I can relay the amazing results….

I let my cravings & compulsion get the better of me however & I have nothing to show for it. That’s right, I’m a greedy greedy girl & I ate it all before I ever even had the chance to document it.

That being said, I brazenly used the excuse that it was late at night by the time I’d finished… & there was no light left for such a photograph… & it would be such a shame to let a delicious meal get cold.

Have I managed to justify my actions? Not quite.

Still, the tutorial shows all the prep & for that I am grateful. Am I as pleased with it as my previous two tutorials? Not even close.

Lesson learned… if I have a wicked craving for food, it should not be used for the tutorial because it won’t make it to it’s photoshoot. I only have myself to blame.

I’ll do better next week, promise!

Ingredients:
– 100g frozen spinach, defrosted
– 75g almond flour
– 175g buckwheat flour
– 150g tapioca starch
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 & 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
– 20g olive oil
– 3 large egg whites

Directions:
1. combine the almonds & spinach in your food processor & blend until smooth.
2. add in the rest of the dry ingredients & continue to process until everything is incorporated. Add the wet ingredients & continue blending until a dough is formed.
3. transfer the dough into a bowl, wrap with clingfilm & refrigerate for 2 hours.
4. To make the tortillas, place a large non-stick pan on the stove & heat to medium-high. Lightly grease the pan with oil.
5. take a portion of dough about the size of a ping-pong ball & flatten into a disc, lightly dust with buckwheat flour & roll out to 1mm thick between two sheets of parchment paper. You can trim the edges using a large bowl to get a nice uniform shape. Transfer the disc into the frying pan & move it around so the oil is evenly distributed. Cook for 1 minute on each side or until the bubbles start to get colour.
6. continue on this way until all the tortillas are cooked. Or alternatively, make as many as you like, & freeze the remaining dough for use at a later date.

Recipes for the guacamole & fajitas are here.

Diary, day fifty-five

I may be facing a slight problem… my mac is still refusing to charge & I’m wondering how I’m going to churn out a tutorial this week if I can’t put together a video.

I know this isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s enough to cause some frustration.

With a little (a lot) fiddling, I can get it to at least hold power instead of continuing to run down the battery.. but the slightest movement disconnects even that. The problem arises of how I record my introduction. I use my mac for that. No one wants my intro from my couch… they might actually see that I have a giant, orange, mural of a sunset on my living room wall. (not my choice).

I’ll figure it out. Beg, borrow or steal!

Diary, day fifty-four… decisions decisions

The thing I love most about creating designed cakes… is the people. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for all of my customers. There are the rare few who order the cakes for all the wrong reasons (e.g. just to show off)… but the majority want something beautiful to express how much they adore the person receiving it.

A good example would be the current cake I’m working on. A man has called or order a cake that looks like a gift box, & inside to have hearts to show how he feels about his wife. The whole thing is a surprise… & he insisted that if there was any way I could make the thing taste like tiramisu (that’s her favourite), that I should.

This is the kind of cake that makes me happy. Ok, the design is nothing special. Gift box cakes have been done a million times before. It’s the sentiment attached to it that warms me to my toes.

& of course… of COURSE, I was absolutely going to make it tiramisu flavoured. Not hard to achieve. I took my beloved chocolate cake recipe & added coffee… & wrote a new recipe for a tiramisu flavoured buttercream. Lots of rum, mascarpone & real vanilla bean. I could eat it as is.

Now, out of habit, I decided to record the process. Turns out I actually have some pretty nice footage. My current contemplation is whether or not I do more of an instructional how-to video for this weeks youtube tutorial (& of course share my tiramisu buttercream recipe), or if I stick with my traditional cooking & show you all how to make spinach tortilla wraps for fajitas. I’m going to be making the fajitas & wraps anyway, I have a wicked craving & now that my husband has finally returned how, I figured I’d cook up a whole mexican themed meal & we’d wander off to the beach for a picnic. The question is more… do you all also want to see the execution of prepping a cake for decoration? Or should I just stick with teaching you how to make more every day food?

Decisions decisions. Maybe I’ll release the fajitas on wednesday & throw the how-to in over the weekend as a little surprise bonus video. Although now that I’ve gone & told you, it’s really not that much of a surprise.

If you have an opinion, feel free to weigh in… I always love feedback. xxx

diary, day fifty-three

Today was just one of those days.

You know the ones… the ones where absolutely everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Suffice to say, other than to fill an order… there was no actual cooking.

You want the run down?

1. woke up because of nightmares at 05:30… & never went back to sleep.
2. upon looking in the mirror, discovered it appeared as if I had been punched in the eye. Apparently, a mosquito thought I looked appetising.
3. tried to have my morning ciggy with my coffee… only crumbs left in my pouch.
4. attempted to clean the house… got half way through & broke the mop in half. Spent the remainder of the time crawling around with the mop-head in hand & scrubbing the floor on my knees.
5. went to make the apple cake for an order… didn’t prepare enough apple slices. Had to stop half way through, cut & cook more & proceed.
6. decided I desperately needed to wash my hair… had a freezing cold shower because the boiler decided it was on strike.
7. gave myself a manicure, my dog destroyed it.
8. put down freshly washed rug… spilled grease all over it.
9. went to charge my phone, caught the cable in the spring of the couch & ripped it in half.
10. laptop cable has finally decided to call it quits & will now refuse to charge my laptop. On 43%… lets see how long that lasts

….it’s a wonder I even convinced myself to leave the house at all… & an even bigger surprise that no more disasters ensued.

On that note, I’m off to bed before I give the day a chance to throw me yet another curve ball.

I really hope tomorrow goes better! On the bright side, at least I could see the humour every step of the way!

Diary, day fifty-two

I have two cake orders coming up in the next week…. one is a nice simple cake, the other is another piece of designed work. I’m excited about both.

I tend to give up on my own meal preparation when cake orders come up. I’m already making such a mess of the kitchen trying to complete the order, that I can’t justify adding to that mess.

The grocery shopping for them is out of the way… & since I have a few days before I need to start, I actually utilised my free time to make a thai green curry paste from scratch & I have a breast of chicken cut into strips & marinating in it along with some coconut cream. I plan to cook it up stir fry style with rice noodles on Sunday… & let me tell you my mouth is already watering.

For now… I wait.

Diary, day fifty-one

I’ve been fighting with foodgawker for two days now.

Fighting is a strong word, I’m in a one sided argument.

What I mean by this is, I keep submitting images for the bread I baked yesterday, & they keep rejecting my images. I’ve tried three so far & each one gets dismissed with it’s own separate comments. Usually I just shrug this off… but I find it a tad insulting when I’m so found of the first image I submitted (the one shown at the beginning of the tutorial).

As you all know, it has been a long time since I’ve dusted off my professional camera & actually taken the time to compose a photograph. As of late, I’ve been using instagram to relay my visual imagery. Of course, if you know me, you also know that doing so instills a feeling of disappointment & laziness in my own eyes. At least when it comes to me. I know many people use the app & that’s great for them. Maybe I just judge myself so harshly since I used to consider myself a photographer once upon a time.

I’m getting off topic. The only point I wanted to make was that I’m frustrated.

Diary, day forty-nine & fifty – blueberry buckwheat loaf

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I’ve been working on this for two days. That may sound like a long time just to bake bread & record a video, but it’s been windy & cloudy the last two days. I’ve been in constant battle with my timing & trying to get the best light. Not to mention that by the time I had this beautiful loaf out of the oven, most of the afternoon had passed & there was no longer light left to photograph it. I made it just in time to record the removal from the oven & then my window was gone.

I love bread. The amount of times I crave it. Actually, it’s not so much about the bread, but more what I want to put on it. Like right now, I’m craving sandwiches. I know that’s an odd craving, but you never realise how much of a luxury a sandwich is until making one takes careful planning & forethought.

I would also like to say that it is not easy to produce good gluten-free bread. Most of them come out extremely dense, & have a crumbly texture like cake. I explain that in the tutorial… This one here, actually has the perfect amount of chew, it doesn’t fall apart… & it holds up well to being eaten the next day, without having to toast it first to make it bearable. I’m also about to experiment to see if it can be frozen… so you don’t feel forced to live off sandwiches for the next few days. Although realistically, I could easily eat the whole thing by tomorrow afternoon.

What I’d also like to say is, you may think this is a “sweet bread” because of the blueberries, & I can understand how that would feel limiting. The truth of the matter is, there is only a hint of sweetness, & the blueberries as a wonderfully subtle flavour. This makes it very easy to pair with cheeses, or even compose your favourite sandwich. Trust me on this. Think of it the same way you’d pair apple sauce with port, mint jelly with lamb, or cranberry preserve with turkey. Exactly the same concept.

The bottom line is, you really want to make this bread.

Ingredients:
– 1tbs gluten-free instant yeast
– 45g sugar
– 200g tapioca starch
– 100g potato starch
– 85g sorghum flour
– 40g oat flour
– 40g buckwheat flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp guar gum
– 1 & 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
—————-
– 3 large egg whites
– 300ml milk
– 30g olive oil
—————-
– 70g dried blueberries

Directions:
1. combine all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer & give them a quick whisk to combine. Create a well in the centre of the ingredients & set aside.
2. in a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients & mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the well you created in the dry. Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook & mix on medium to slow speed until everything is thoroughly combined. Add in the blueberries & continue to mix until they’ve been distributed throughout.
3. use a spatulate to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Take another large bowl & lightly coat it with olive oil. Transfer your dough to the new bowl, coat your hands with olive oil & smooth out the dough into a ball. Wrap the bowl tightly with clingfilm & place in a warm area to rise for 3 hours.
4. After three hours, preheat your oven to 180C. If you have a cloche, place that in the oven to heat as well. If not, you can use a pizza stone & a cast iron pot.
5. cut a large disk of parchment paper & transfer  your dough onto it. Smooth it into a round ball, & using a sharp knife, cut an X into the centre. Transfer your dough into your cloche or your pizza stone, cover & bake for 1 hour, to an hour & a half. I would check it at the hour mark & then every 15 minutes to ensure. You will know your bread is done when you can tap on the bottom of it & it produces a slightly hollow sound.

Tips:
***** if it’s a cold day, preheat your oven to 50C, place your dough in there & turn the oven off. The oven should hold enough warmth over the following hours to give the bread the temperature needed for the yeast to work.

Diary, day forty-eight

I think 3 days of junk food have ruined me.

I’ve been pacing back & forth around the house craving burgers & fried chicken. Maybe some cornbread & a slice of chocolate pie.

I also just caved & ordered a new bikini to celebrate the fact that it’s summer & I’m living in Greece. It’s the first new bikini I’ve bought in over 4 years… & I’m justifying it by telling myself that I’m too skinny to fit into my old one. Not to mention I’ve worn it to within an inch of its life.

So the dilemma is, do I go for a fourth day of junk & risk not fitting into my itty bitty bikini & put myself at jeopardy of dealing with a serious addiction to unhealthy foods? Or do I go back to my normal eating habits?

I let logic rush over me. I walked right past the isle of interesting flavoured crisps… & went straight to the fresh fish section. I picked myself up a beautiful fillet of salmon which I now have marinating it sesame oil, honey, tamari & fresh coriander… In an hour or two I’ll cook it up & serve it over some basmati rice.

Yes. I have to admit, I really dislike cooking just for myself, but I’m also so not in the mood for my usual rice & tuna salad right now.

I did however treat myself to an ice-cold blackberry cider. Sure, I’m going healthy, but a single bottle of cider isn’t going to destroy everything.

I think I’ve also planned my tutorial for this week. Nothing fancy, but at least there is a plan.

Have a lovely evening! Cheers xxx