Saturday, 28 July 2012

I WAS THERE! BEING A CLOUD AT THE OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY!!






I was there.


After four months of rehearsals, countless hours moving Props in the pouring rain, unpaid leave from work, a fiance who has felt like an Olympic widower, being sworn to secrecy and mounting excitement.


It was incredible. Goosebumps, gasps, a racing heart.


And as I write I still can't believe I was there. It was one of the best nights of my life. There aren't enough adjectives to describe the night. 


And just a little surreal.


Who knew at the start of the year I'd be telling you 'I was a cloud at the Olympic Opening Ceremony'?!


The opening scene, the Green and Pleasant Land is described in the Guardian with the 'fluffy white clouds tethered to squads of minders and slowly circling the arena'. The Times notes on its front page today: 'vast clouds were carried in procession'


That was me! I was one of the minders! Or, to give our official title a 'Cloud Wrangler'. Dressed in our fun white dungarees that I'm almost certain Stella McCartney had been no where near, we were the very first to head onto the Field of Play at 7.30pm. Watching the buzz building as the audience filtered in, admiring the beautiful rural scene on display and then transform into the dramatic, noisy, ugly industrial landscape. 


It was felt like a bizarre dream to be told at one stage over our radios: 'Could the Clouds be aware that the geese and cows are now exiting. Please could the clouds stay away from the animals'.


And it was all a little emotional too: the children singing Bread of Heaven, the poignant minute of silence, the joyous celebration of the National Health Service. 


I arrived home, exhausted but elated at three o clock this morning and promptly watched the entire spectacle as seen by 1 billion people around the world.


Let the Games begin.


Heading into the Stadium for one of the best nights of my life

Checking to ensure each flag is correct

Cloud Wranglers with our cloud

The grin that didn't leave my face this entire evening

On the Field of Play watching the Biggest Scene Change Ever





Oh, and a cake! Here's one I made for the Cloud Wrangling Team: 


                                            
A cake version of me and the cloud!

Coconut Cloud Cake

For the Sponge:

225g softened unsalted butter
225g self-raising flour, sifted
100g plain flour
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 vanilla pod
A little milk if needed

For the filling and decoration:

3 tbsps jam or conserve (I used plum)
50g dessicated coconut
100g soft unsalted butter 
200g icing sugar, sieved

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan/Gas Mark 5. Butter and line an 8 inch sandwich tin
2. Cream together the sugar and butter for at least five minutes until light and fluffy
3. Slowly add the eggs, beating until well combined. Add the seeds from the vanilla pod
4. Fold in the sifted flours. Add a little milk if needed to achieve a dropping consistency
5. Pop the mixture in the prepared tin and bake for 1 hr 10  minutes until golden brown in colour and springy to touch
6. Allow to cool in the tin for five-ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled slice in half horizontally
7. To make the filling: warm the jam over a gentle heat in a pan, stirring gently throughout. Beat together the icing sugar, coconut and butter. Spread the cooled jam on the top of the bottom half of the sponge and use half the coconut buttercream to sandwich the two sponge cakes together. 
8. Decorate the top of the cake with the remainder of the coconut buttercream in the shape of an Olympic Ceremony cloud!

Baker's notes...
  • For an extra celebration add a splash of Malibu to the icing
  • Its taken me the best part of four hours to write this post as I keep stopping to pinch myself (its getting a little painful now)- I still can't believe I was there! Ban-Ki Moon said thank you to me as I held open a curtain!
  • And I've had a few minutes of fame...
  • Bring on the Closing Ceremony... rehearsals continue tomorrow!


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Olympic Baking: Jess Ennis Chocolate and Blackcurrent Loaf Cake



Welcome to the fourth in the now far more regular mini-series that is What Kate Baked Olympic Baking!

There are now five days to go til the Greatest Show in the World.

With all the debate and debacle around security, worry and woe with transport there has been a fair bit of, how shall I put it, slightly less flattering press about the Olympics this week. But despite all this, I'm convinced they'll be one of the best Games ever staged. London is all spruced up, the Olympic park is magnificent and there'll be some super-human sporting endeavours that will wow the world. And it is all happening right on our doorstep!


As regular readers know (hi Mum!) I am rather excited by the Olympics. Here's me telling the world.


Meanwhile, the dress rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony are in full swing at the Stadium. This weekend we've been given our costumes (despite safely predicting Stella McCartney has had absolutely no involvement in their design whatsoever, they are super-fun and are rather generously proportioned allowing for plenty of room for Emergency Cake to be stored on the night).

We've also been standing in for the athletes and flag bearers during the Athletes Parade part of the Ceremony. My new knowledge of world flags would put a Geography teacher to shame. So far, I've been Bermuda, Kyrgyzstan, Palau (no, me neither) and Zambia.  Of course, Team GB is the one we all want as we shuffle in line hoping to have our few minutes of glory as 'GRANDE BRETANGE...GREAT BRITAIN' booms out to the few workmen putting late night finishing touches to the stadium.

So there I am, fancying myself as Jessica Ennis, which led to the inspiration for this cake, which will be taken to the Stadium tomorrow to share out among my fellow Props volunteers.



Jess Ennis Chocolate and Blackcurrant Cake

Ingredients
175g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140g self-raising flour, sifted
85g ground almonds
half a teaspoon baking powder
100ml milk
4 tbsps cocoa powder, sifted
4 tbsps blackcurrant jam

For the icing and decoration:
50g dark chocolate
75g butter, softened
150g sifted icing sugar
A splash of milk
A few chunks of Chocolate


1. Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin with a strip of baking parchment
2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electrical whisk for at least five minutes until nicely light and fluffy
3. Beat in the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, milk and cocoa powder until smooth
4. Spoon half the mixture into the tin, spoon in the jam and top with the remaining cake mixture
5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden, risen and a skewer poked into the very centre of the cake comes out clean
6. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift out and place on a wire rack to cool completely
7. To make the icing: Melt the chocolate in a small glass bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Meanwhile, beat the icing sugar and butter together, adding a splash of milk if necessary to loosen. Add the melted chocolate and stir together until fully combined. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the chocolate chunks and little Jess figurine.


Baker's notes...

  • The cake will freeze well for up to three months uniced and will slice into 8-10 pieces. Or 4-5 if you have an athlete-like appetite and would prefer cake to 16 bananas a day
  • Jess Ennis is not edible
  • This cake is whizzing its way to Choclette's We Should Cocoa blogging challenge, for which the theme for July is Blackcurrants 






Saturday, 14 July 2012

Olympic Baking: Chocolate and Pistachio Logo Cake



This, if you cannot tell (and I definitely won't be thinking less of you; I think I ought to stick to what I do best: eating cake, rather than decorating them) is the Olympic logo. On a cake.

I know. I know. You kinda have to squint a bit. Yes, yes, it does look a little like I've just dumped some left over sweets from the Jubilee celebrations on top of a chocolate cake. And no, I'm not sure quite how much my version conveys 'a sense of energy.. dynamism..inspired by the world of media, communications and fashion' like the real thing. Perhaps mine conveys a message of 'Impressive work from a 3 year old'?!

And that '2' in the bottom left was clearly a right troublemaker. 

But, dodgy logos aside, the Olympics are so close now!! To be more exact: 12 days, 23 hours, 41 minutes.

And as you read this I'll probably be half way through a thirteen hour Opening Ceremony rehearsal at the Olympic Stadium. 

It is epic

Both the Ceremony and the length of rehearsal that is. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about the being part of the Olympics. More excited than when I met Mary Berry. More than being tweet-complimented by Dan Lepard. Heck, more than if they discovered cake was actually good for you and a useful weight loss resource*.

Anyways, this Olympic inspired cakey-treat is heading over to Stratford today to be enjoyed, I hope, by my fellow Props Team volunteers.


Chocolate and Pistachio Logo Cake

  • The cakey part is a recipe taken from Good Food Magazine April 2011 and can be found right here


  • The chocolate icing involved me melting 100g chocolate in a small Pyrex bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Once melted I whipped it off the heat and stirred in 3 tbsps of creme fraiche before spreading it over the cooled cake.
  • I used a selection of Special Edition Chocolate Peanut M&Ms to decorate



Baker's notes...
  • This is a lovely traybake recipe and very easy to bake although you do need a food processor to whizz up the chocolate, pistachios and sugar for the cake
  • As traybakes are the perfect Cake Stall bake, being easily dividable, this post is winging its way over to Karen for this month's Tea Time Treats blogging challenge
  • And being Olympic themed it also fits very nicely with this month's Calendar Cakes theme, hosted by Dolly Bakes and LauraLovesCakes




Calendar Cakes Blogger Challenge



* Well, almost more excited than that.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Cake for Cycling: Dundee Cake


Last weekend we went cycling.

For three days.

It was brilliant.

Cycling 35 miles a day through the gentle rolling hills and along the coastal paths of Pembrokeshire. In our panniers we packed just a change of clothes, some derriere protecting cream (best seventeen pounds spent on my bottom ever) and a few several hundred Mars Bars.

In other words, the essentials. And just look at the view my Dad, my Sister, A and I enjoyed!


And this one!



And this one!




And for a trip like this one, we needed a proper cake. A cake that when squished by the weight of several hundred Mars Bars would still taste flavorsome, light and darn tasty. 

A cake that if it were a box of tissues (stick with me) it would certainly not be a pretty floral two-ply box but a Man Sized box ('Big, strong and reliable'*) 

Dundee Cake was only possible cake that could fulfil this criteria.

Dundee Cake

The recipe is taken from Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course and can also be found on her website, right here

Baker's notes...
  • Delia suggests it makes a nice alternative to a richer, darker Christmas Cake
  • (Are we allowed to mention Christmas in July?)
  • It is light, crumbly and very, very fruity. And keeps ever so well
  • As it contains not only whole blanched almonds but whiskey (helped with the hills!), this post in winging its way to the AlphaBakes Challenge this month hosted by Caroline Makes with the letter 'W'
  • With many thanks to my wonderful Sister




* Possibly the first time you'll have heard a cake being referred to as strong and reliable.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Random Recipes: A Celebration of Cookbooks









In a genius twist on this month's Random Recipes Dom from Belleau Kitchen has sent out a missive to fellow food bloggers asking them to photograph the cookbooks that have proved the inspiration to many a Random Recipe challenge over the last year.


For the last couple of weeks, the nosy-parker in me has delighted pouring over the photos of everyone's bookshelves. Its been like resurrecting that tea time telly favourite: 'Through the Key Hole: A Kitchen Special!'


(Sample Sir David Frost's commentary:


'And panning around the kitchen I can see someone hasn't done the washing up. For some days I'd have thought...')


Firstly, on the windowsill we have a pile of foodie magazines and clippings folders. Once a year the Annual Clipping Cull takes place. Grabbing a scissors I brutally tear through the glossy pages, searching for every last pudding recipe or any new twist on the Victoria Sponge, decorating the floor in multi-coloured scraps of discarded pages that take the entire rest of the year to clear up.




And here are the baking books. There are the ones I love, and turn to time and time again. The ones for special occasions and celebrations. And the ones that I'm frightened of. Too terrified to even attempt any of the recipes. My name is What Kate Baked and I have a phobia of Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits.



This is for why:


And in the bookcase are the savoury books. Yep, that is a heavy coating of dust you see on each and every one.



And this is one very special cookbook, an absolutely brilliant I-Love-It-To-Pieces book made by my wonderful sister for my 30th birthday that has pride of place in the bookshelves:






With many thanks to Dom and his inspired, original Random Recipes.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

June Tea Time Treats Round-Up II



Oops.

I accidentally left three terrific Tea Time Treat bakes off the June berry-tastic round-up a few days ago. I think my brain is entirely taken up with remembering the steps for the Olympic Opening Ceremony ('MUST REMEMBER MY MOVES!! MUST NOT MESS UP AND BECOME YOU TUBE SENSATION!').

My sincere apologies go out to Fiona from London Unattached, Dom from Belleau Kitchen and Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes.

Fiona, who explains this is the very first time she has baked cupcakes, has sent in these Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes. I don't think any of us can possibly believe they are the very first time baking cupcakes- don't they look utterly delectable and delicious?

chocolate and raspberry cupcakes

Meanwhile Dom, to say a big thank you to the very supportive and wonderful 'blogging friends' we all make doing this lark has made this brilliant and beautiful blueberry ripple ice cream. The best advert for investing in an ice cream maker I've seen in a long time!



When it comes to strawberries, British is Best. Or in Jacqueline's case Scottish rules Supreme! Jacqueline has baked this soft, creamy, mouthwatering Deep Strawberry Cheesecake using her local Perthshire berries. 


Thank you once again to all the excellent entries we've received this month. 

Karen, from Lavender and Lovage details July's theme right here!