I am quite the admirer of Yottam Ottolenghi. I own three of his books (this recipe comes from the third – Jerusalem – Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi) and have made exactly one of his recipes (this one) and only because I happened to have the key ingredient – tahini – sitting in my cupboard from an over enthusiastic bout of hummus making. I am sure I cannot be alone in this. The recipes this man creates do not so much require cooking as assembling and indeed sourcing, since each and every one seems to feature at least one and often three or more exotic ingredients available only to him, and a select few in West London (and anyone living in the middle East presumably). It was in my view a stroke of marketing genius for him to capitalize on the unavailability of the items he used by opening an online shop so that everyone outside of West London could also saddle themselves with kitchens cupboards full of ingredients they would use once or never at all. Alan Sugar eat your heart out.
We are now into week three of the house decoration and I am already ready for everyone to go home. Right now. It’s not even that bad really. I have my kitchen back, the decorators themselves are all lovely (if incessantly making and drinking cups of tea) and Baby BB has proved himself able to take afternoon naps through near industrial levels of noise. But, but, I just want it to be over and my house to be mine again and my cats not to be treading wet paint through the kitchen and me not to be rotting Baby BB’s brain with endless cbeebies as I attempt to keep him out of the way of the many and varied toddler-death traps now scattered about; trailing wires, open cans of paint; precariously stacked ladders; power tools and on and on. I do appreciate, however, that this is a very first-world, middle class problem: boring and annoying in pretty much equal measure, so I’ll shut up now.
Gwyneth Paltrow is very much the actress du jour it would seem, managing to be voted both the most beautiful woman in the world (really?) and the most hated woman alive (again, really? Caitlin Moran wrote a very good piece on this, but I think it’s behind a Times paywall) simultaneously; not such a contradiction when you think about it. After all, this is the woman who has been blessed by good genes, inherited wealth, a loving family and a capacity to act (sometimes) and still has the temerity not to have had her life derailed by some drink/drugs/cheating scandal and moreover to write about said perfect life and instruct everyone else on how to achieve it, or at least the healthy eating part. The cheek of it! Get back in the kitchen woman! No wait, get out of the kitchen and eat some brownies, the full fat ones. Not the ones in your books. Sheesh!
This is the third and final post resulting from my lovely afternoon at the Bordeaux Quay patisserie course. A solo hen-party if you like. As it happens there was a girl there – okay woman, but she had very young looking skin – who had just gotten engaged and was flush with the joys of a recent proposal. This took the heat off me somewhat; if not the unwed couple who had been together for seven years. Awkward.
I had been going to call this post, the second from my Bordeaux Quay Patisserie afternoon, ‘one-handed scones’ on account of the fact that you can make them with just one hand, thus keeping your other hand (and any rings that may be on said hand) free of sticky dough; but then I thought that it might give the wrong impression. Of what, or how, I’m not exactly sure, but it just felt a little bit icky. And this we do not want as these scones as well as being an absolute doddle to make (doubtless even more so if you use both hands) are super fluffy and light and scrummy on their own or slathered with butter/cream. They also were the only food Baby BB would countenance after a particularly fractured lunchtime (non) nap during yet another round of teething (when will it end? what’s so great about teeth anyway? surely he has enough now?)
Before Mr. BB and I eloped to the Isles of Scilly, or more accurately, combined a visit to the Isles of Scilly with a (long overdue) marriage ceremony, I attended an afternoon patisserie course at Bordeaux Quay. I had been wanting to do this for a while as I had hoped to be able to master, or at least get some way to mastering, the macaroon. Whether it was in fact sensible to spend four hours surrounded by chocolate, butter, pastry and cream barely seven days before my wedding only really occurred to me on me when I got to the workshop and was met with the news that we would be eating everything we made over afternoon tea at the end of the class. Hmmm…
Somehow I have managed to lose Baby BB’s Chocolate Easter Bunny. Readers familiar with this blog will know that I have form when it comes to ‘tidying away’ things, but I have never knowingly lost chocolate, or indeed food of any kind (unless you count the half eaten packet of chorizo we discovered down the back of the fridge the other week. Inside the fridge I hasten to add; like that makes a difference). Naturally Baby BB is wholly unaware that he has been deprived of chocolate that is/was rightfully his. I, however, am more than a little miffed, not least since I had been planning to snaffle at least half of it for myself. I cannot in truth bring myself to turn the whole house upside down for the bunny though, and am just hoping it will hop into view during the great enforced spring clean I will shortly undertake.
As anyone taking so much as a cursory glance at the above photograph will clearly see, this post is actually about Victoria Sponge Cake. I have called it Vanilla Birthday Cake only because this is what it is called in the recipe book I happened to take it from (Jo Wheatley – A Passion for Baking)*. There are a million and one recipes for Victoria Sponges and they are all basically the same. Purists will insist that the only acceptable filling is strawberry jam, at a push raspberry jam (or is it the other way around?) but never any cream and certainly not buttercream. I have ignored this.