Warning: this is a rambling post, but there is food nestled in between, have no fear!
So today is my little puff’s birthday party. My monstertjie, kwak, and above all kwagga. That is, my little sister! She turned five yesterday, but since today is a public holiday it was decided to go big and bold today. She was born when I was 22 or somewhere thereabouts, and yikes, she is a startling reminder of how different one’s own childhood was and how little squirts today react and interact with the world around them. She even got an iPad tablet thingamabob! She is, of course, supremely intelligent and thus needs all the gadgetry to keep up with the world around her. I remember getting a Walkman at some far distant point in time and thinking that this was it – I had reached the pinnacle of personal technology. Alas, one is quick to learn humility when around smart little buggers – she can speak three languages already, since she’s a little Dane-South African hybrid. I don’t think she’ll ever be able to truly understand how much she transformed my life and outlook. Man-thing and I don’t plan on having squiggles of our own, so watching her and little brother grow up in front of us is the best gift ever, because she’s never stingy with hugs and kisses, and he’s just a charmer waiting to take on the world.
Anyway, the tradition on her birthday (and of course on his now) is to make a Danish birthday cake. It’s a layered sponge cake with an inner vanilla custard layered with slices bananas, strawberries, and other such crazies, and topped with whipped cream and more fruit, such as raspberries. I decided to not be anti-social and make my own little cake to take along, and also because I wanted to give “single serving” desserts a go. I’ve seen quite a lot of chocolate s-s cakes, or carrot, but not too many vanilla, so it was a bit of trolling that led me to this microwave vanilla cake by Linda over at Free Range Cookies. I loved the bundt look and the glaze, so I simply had to make it. I decided on using a ramekin to bake my cake in to keep with the look of the Danish cake, but you bet your best pants that when I have a Skyrim party I am absolutely making this for my sweet roll 😀
The only thing I did was to add 1 TBSP of sugar instead of 2, because I’ve been getting these funny tastes in my mouth lately every time I overdo the processed sugar. I’m starting to see the wisdom in using as many natural sugars as possible in baking (obviously in moderation), but for the purpose of this cake, it is delicious! I tried cooking/baking the cake two ways -once in the oven at 175 Celsius for 15 minutes (as I’d seen done over at CCK), and the other time for about 1 minute in the microwave. I found the micro version to be a bit squishy/soggy because of the coconut oil, so I prefer it baked. I put both versions in tupperware to keep for today and even last night an hour or so after doing so it had firmed up incredibly, but had begun to stick to the bottom of the tupperware! So one ramekin cake was a bit tattered on the bottom (Man-thing got to eat it) and I quickly got out some baking paper to put at the bottom and stop it from making a second disaster of my presentation cake for today. I managed very easily to slice my cake in half and voila! All in all, NOM! More on that below.
For the custard layer between the two cake bits I decided to make custard from scratch, since I didn’t want the yellow-y tinge of Moirs’ custard in a cake that is usually very white and light looking. Plus the Danes usually seem to put fresh gunk from vanilla pods in their custard and whipped cream, so I had standards to live up to (and lots of pretty pods from Madagascar yet to use)! I used the recipe from Just Eat Love, and wow, when it is warm in the pan and one is “tasting”…yeah, I tasted away half the custard. ahem. I only used 1/8 cup of sugar, and TBH I could have done with even less, but that is tastebuds, again. SO silky and divine! The problem came when I put it in the fridge for an hour or two and took it out to “test” some more – it got all clumpy, and even after I blended it again I knew it wouldn’t retain that silky smoothness (though the taste was still nommy). I think I did something dodgy- I subbed the potato starch and tapioca with 2 TBSP of normal cornstarch, so I’m not sure if that was it! I see only now in the recipe comments that I could have used egg replacer – absolutely doing that next time (oh yes, there will be a next time!) *shivers*.
Man-thing LOVED LOVED LOVED this simple combo- I gave him the one cake that had struggled to lift from the tupperware with the rest (koff) of the custard inside and out (without fruit, since he’s not into that) and he was all “oh Marfigs” with this food moan that I’m always happy to get – it means he’s been transported to the proper place in the dimension dedicated to the holiness of food.
Happily for my cake today (since now all the custard was gone), I’d soaked a 1/4 cup of cashews in a teacup with a chai teabag chilling at the bottom (no special reason why!) for a few hours beforehand, so I whipped out my miller and blitzed that plus 1 TBSP agave, 1 tsp coconut oil, a few splashes of soy milk, and one vanilla pod. Yum! I really like cashew cream/frosting for most things that require it these days, and I figure it’s an acceptable replacement for the custard, because it still has that creamy consistency (plus the dark sprinkles from the vanilla innards!). I left the cashew frosting in the fridge overnight (didn’t want to layer it too early since the whole thing might get soggy) and also because I knew I’d be naughty and eat the whole thing (or at least the “leftover” cashew mix and fruit…such a delightful combo 😀
Since the birthday party is a braai, or barbecue, I thought I’d also bring along some eats of my own – the chickpea wrap (not baked!) that I’m so fond of, some steamed pumpkin, red cabbage and spinach, with a little jammy tomato vinaigrette. I decided to buy us a new, thin and large non-stick pan (at a random large retailer) for rather cheap, because I’m happy to spend R100 now on a pan that will last a year or two rather than R2,000 (which we don’t have to spend on pans!) for something which may get accidentally scratched or scoured. As much as I love the chickpea pancake baked, it has a different texture when pan-fried, so I made a shredded carrot and onion base with some mint, white pepper and lots of paprika and turmeric. Nom!
Anyway, now onto the sadness of my tale.
1) the mournful lament that is the still-lost piece of ice-cream maker equipment, somewhere deep in the foundations of our little poz.
2) the terrible tragedy that is the broken lid of the old Kenwood food processor. It was Man-thing’s granny’s and I have been abusing it (with care) for a year or so now. Long story short, my hands spazzed out when I was taking it out of the cupboard and I dropped it a few centimeters onto the tabletop – it broke off a bit of the lid, which is needed to click the machine into place – if it doesn’t click in it refuses to start! We are busy trying different glues to rectify this deep sorrow.
3) My awesome camera that I got from my FIL is giving hassles – it gets stuck on settings so I can turn my little wheel to change the F-stop or nothing. wah! So all I can do is take photos on “p” like a monkey, but the lighting in our abode is so dim and epically gloomy that even with all three downstairs lights on, two reflectors and one lamp I STILL get a blurry dark photo out of my long-winded preparation. *tears*
Nevertheless, we shall persevere! Man-thing has become more curious about cooking and the kitchen, even asking for the recipe for the dumpling stew I made the other day (!!!), and volunteering to make cookies for our xmas goodie bags for the near and dear relatives (we’ve done a test batch are are satisfied, w00t!). Wauw! I’m going to take him out to Dely on Duncan as a treat after xmas to try out their cuisine to inspire him with different tastes and textures, because I figure experiencing food in exciting settings and with new knowledge can open up all senses and imagination. ❤