Its the very last day of the London 2012 Olympics today.
As you read this I'll be busy in final rehearsals for the Closing Ceremony tonight: A Symphony of British Music.
And with the Closing Ceremony comes the the sad realisation: what am I going to do with myself now the Games have finished?! And while I eagerly await the start of the Paralympics, here are some of my highlights of the last two weeks:
- That night in the Olympic Stadium on Super(duper) Saturday when Team GB
dominatedwere the Athletics, the entire nation was glued to their telly screens in disbelief through the combined brilliance of Jess, Mo and Greg. And the Second Super Saturday when Mo did the Double!
- Celebrating Team GB's Golden Games- they just kept coming! An unprecedented Gold rush for Great Britain made these the most successful games in the modern era. Or at least since the 1908 London Games, which included sports such as Tug of War, Bicycle Polo, Pie Throwing and the Tandem Cycling race...*
- Reading the stories of sacrifice and suffering each athlete has experienced over the last four years...and all the support provided by the families and friends of our superstars
- The enthusiasm, joy, emotion and unabashed patriotism. And the super support shown by sporting fans to all nations: typified by the following description in last week's Sunday Times: 'One woman roared with such passion that her friend had to calm her: "But you're not from Azerbaijan. You're from Swansea" '
- Developing an encyclopedic knowledge of lesser known sports. While its pretty straightforward that whoever crosses the line first on the Athletics track gets 400g of precious metal placed around their neck a short while later, over the last fourteen days I've learnt that 'eggbeater' is not a fancy word for 'whisk' but a move in Synchronised Swimming
- Possibly the best celebration of winning a Gold Medal: Germany's Robert Harting ripping off his shirt, grabbing his nation's flag and jumping in the wrong direction over each of the hurdles set our for the Women's competition
- Playing my small part and getting to enjoy watching some Olympic Sport live with tickets to the Volleyball and Women's Road Race
* One of these events I may have made up.
What are your best memories? Which moments captivated, astonished and wowed you?
These Pies were made to celebrate the phenomenal success of the Games of the XXX Olympiad as I've spent a huge amount of time over the last fourteen days shouting:
Team GB Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
For the pies
75g unsalted softened butter
125g soft light brown sugar
1 medium egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Half a tsp baking powder
50ml plain yogurt or buttermilk
150g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
2 tsps red food colouring
For the whoopie filling
30g softened unsalted butter
60g full fat cream cheese
Half a tsp vanilla extract
180g sifted icing sugar
A handful of raspberries and blueberries to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until nicely light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue to beat until combined.
3. Sift together the baking powder, flour and cocoa powder. On a low speed, whisk in the flour mixture and yogurt in alternative batches. Be careful not to overbeat
4. Whisk in the food colouring and then spoon the batter into a piping bag. Cut a 1cm hole at the bottom of the bag and pipe approx 10-12 pies onto the prepared baking sheets ensuring to leave a few centimeters between each pie
5. Pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until nicely puffed and springy to touch.
6. Allow the pies to cool while making the icing: beat together butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until the icing becomes smooth and glossy
7. Once the pies are cooled use a spoonful of icing to sandwich two pies together. Dab a little icing to the top and use the blueberries and raspberries to decorate
8. Toast Team GB for their amazing achievements!
- To ensure whoopies of the same size, use a circular object, such as an upturned glass and pencil to draw circles on the baking parchment to guide the piping of the pies
- Keep a close eye on the pies as they bake- as you can see, distracted considerably by the Olympic action unfolding, a few of my pies got slightly singed at the edges. Oops.