I have had a cold. But lots of things have been happening – I had a party for my son’s 4th birthday – the good kind of kid’s party, in which the kids play and eat home-made sausage rolls and fairy bread, and the parents and friends sit around and eat sausage rolls and butterfly cakes and drink seemingly-endless-supplies of Long Island Iced Teas. It was supposed to be at a playground, but it was wet, so we had it at my house, which was better in many ways as it didn’t matter when people showed up, and the food could be made hot in relays, rather than all at once and transported soggily to the park.
I made an extremely easy and delicious rich chocolate cake which is the excellent kind of recipe that doesn’t have a lot of difficult ingredients such as corn syrup, sour cream, dark chocolate, etc – it just had butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking SODA and cocoa. All of which I generally have about the place.
I was given this recipe from the blogger at http://thylacinthine.wordpress.com/ but not on her blog.
Put half a cup of cocoa into a bowl, and stir in a cup of boiling water. I use Woolworths home brand cocoa (for which I specifically go to Woollies, as I never usually shop there – but their cocoa is superb, much better quality than Cadbury’s and cheaper.) Add 2 tsps vanilla. You are supposed to wait until it cools down to add the vanilla, but I forgot. It turned out all right anyway.
Beat 185g of butter in a mixing bowl until it is fluffy, or as fluffy as it gets – it’s butter for crying out loud, not egg white. Add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, and continue with the beating until it is light and fluffy…or a grainy-ish paste which looks sort of curdled – depends on how much effort you want to go to.
Add 2 eggs and beat it some more, and at this stage it may even have a chance at the Light And Fluffy Award.
Combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and a little salt if you used unsalted butter (but I always use salted as that is all I have in the house).
It sounds sort of counter-intuitive to use baking soda, not powder, as that normally leaves a horrid yellowish colour and a metallic taste unless it is balanced by an acid of some sort, so all I can assume is that cocoa is acidic. Because it works like a charm.
Alternating between the floury mixture and the cocoa mixture, add 1/3 at a time, beating well the whole time until it is a sort of pale chocolaty satiny goop. It will look a lot paler than one would hope from a chocolate cake mix, but fear not, I have made it twice now and it is AMAZING how dark and moist and rich and chocolaty it turns out.
I baked it in a (I think) 9-inch round aluminium cake tin (I use the old-school aluminium tins as they have perfect heat distribution and then cool down rapidly so as not to leave a tough crust) lined with Multix or Gladbake or similar baking paper. Seriously good texture. Oh, at about 170-180 C – it all depends on what your oven is like.
I covered it in very vanillary buttercream icing, and crumbled a flake bar all over it (my five-year-old was asking me why, in pictures of ice-cream, was there sticks in it. I thought he meant, you know, paddle-pop sticks but no, he meant flake bars – so I bought one to show him what the were like) and lots of smarties. At four-year-old’s request. It was delicious and got completely eaten up.
Yesterday morning, after nearly three weeks of miserly doling-out of smarties in the fives and sixes, five-year-old staged a smash-and-grab raid on the pantry cupboard and finished the bag.
In other news – my husband is starting a new job on Monday, which we are all very happy about as it is a LOT closer to home. One reason I have not been writing a great deal is that as a six-month red P-plater I still find driving quite exhausting and have been doing lots of dropping-off and picking-up, and what with these endless colds I seem to be having this year I am so tired it’s all I can do to cook, do laundry and make vast quantities of sandwiches for my ravening hordes of two children. And occasionally do some vacuuming, and also do my important work of reading endless ‘Pure Poison’, ‘News With Nipples’, ‘Politically Homeless’, ‘Dances with Fat’, ‘Fat Heffalump’ and ‘The Failed Estate’ blogposts. No, really, it’s important. True.
Yesterday I dropped off my four-year old at the pre-school and as I walked back through the car-park my nose was caught by that warm, strange (for a person who grew up inland) salty sea-water and mangrove smell that appears when the sun is warm enough to set it going – Woy Woy is so flat that you can be quite a distance away from the water and still get occasional olfactory ‘glimpses’ of that exciting holiday smell. I remember discussing the smell of Woy Woy train station with a couple of friends – one of them loved the smell of mangroves and silty mudflats, and the other hated it and loved the smell of diesel trains. Diesel trains! And train brakes! I ask you! What is that compared to rotten vegetation, pelican shit, decaying crabs and salt water?!
I did mention that I was an inlander, didn’t I? I LOVE the smell of mangroves – it’s like having one’s nose away on childhood summer holidays, all the time.
I am currently thinking of becoming a business analyst writer – this is the next Big Great Idea after becoming an electrician, or a pilot. Who knows. What I DO know is that anxiety has turned my brain into a terrified hamster on a permanent wheel of self-doubt, fuzziness and zero-self-confidence. I suppose come to think of it, that’s self-doubt. Also my formerly-excellent memory seems to have carked it. I am so tired and un-motivated all the time, I seem to be sick most of the time, my neck is stuffed and at the moment I can’t afford a new pillow OR an osteopath and so the thought of getting to grips with even looking into doing a TAFE course, let alone actually DOING it, let alone seeking gainful employment seems daunting and intimidating and frankly terrifying. But I really do need to do something with my life, other than reading detective stories. Speaking of which, I have an historical detective novel to read and review, which I shall get onto next week, and let you all know.
So that’s me roughly caught up. Sorry for the long delay since my last post, which was, let’s face it, cheating as I didn’t even write it. (Thanks again Tom!)