What came first- the chickens or the blog?

A Cake Fit For Angels

Who would have thought baking could make such exciting television? The Great British Bake Off. 13 bakers. In a marquee. Ingredients. Challenges. Creativity. Mistakes. The smell if burning. The taste of Despair. Its unmissable.
A few weeks ago the technical challenge was to make an Angel Food Cake. Considering myself a bit of a Domestic Goddess (no modesty then!) I had never heard of this cake and immediately googled it. Basically an egg white foam with a little flour and baked in a special ring tin. How hard can it be?

Following the BBC Good Food recipe for Angel Food Cake with lemon and passion fruit curd I set out to make a shopping list. As you can see, rather a lot of lemons are required. Eight. (You can tell from my scribbled shopping list that the editor could have done a better job of listing the ingredients.)
And eggs. Ten! (that’s four days laying for us) The yolks make the curd and the whites make the cake.The Gillybirds have had a great week of laying thankfully.

An Angel Food Cake Tin is a specialist piece of baking equipment so I improvised with a 10 inch round tin and filled a soup tin (empty) with baking beans to create a ring mould in the centre. No greasing of the tin surface- to cool you must sit the cake upside down so it needs to adhere to the cake tin sides (yet be loose enough to let go once cooled). Quite a challenge.

It was such a beautiful autumn day the inverted cake cooled in the garden (out of the reach of greedy dogs) while I chilled outside too.

Thankfully it came away very cleanly from the cake tin.

I made the delicious lemon curd yesterday and topped the cream covered cake with it. Spoon licking highly recommended at this stage. Mmmmm

20130928-224635.jpgMary Berry Angel Food Cake Recipe



Business as Usual





<a School holidays are over. Our days of living to no one else's timetable but our own have come to an end. And here at Gillybirds Manor birthday season has passed too.
The Girls have been laying very well, enjoying the wonderfully dry weather, their feathers have grown back, they look great. Very much business as usual.
Just as well as I have had so many birthday cakes to bake over the past couple of months. Summer is birthday season. In our house alone there has been a 20th, an 11th and a 19th, together with Auntie K who turned 40. Each cake takes 4 eggs, from my faithful Nigella recipe. Sometimes I make a simple vanilla sponge, other times I add cocoa.
The decor depends on the recipient. And how classy they want it to be, or how chocolatey. Or how Pokemon-esque.
Also this summer Miss A turned up with 36 bananas urgently needing to be used up, so the freezer is stacked with plenty of banana bread to keep us going for a while.
One of these days my mother will be making noises about getting all the dried fruit organised for Christmas cake. Only 4 months to go! Those Girls better keep on laying.

Colonel Saunders is very glad she isn’t a turkey!

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Kiss Me Quiche

We have had the most amazing weather for the past week. Today the temperature is down 10 degrees and it is raining a little, and surprisingly it is a welcome break for the garden, the dogs and those suffering from sunburn!
Mr Gillybirds was away from home longer than usual last week so to mark his return to the coop I decided to make some quiches from scratch. Yes, pastry and everything. Now those who know me (hello Mrs C) know that I have a particular dislike of pastry. Yuk. So to roll out the pasty pale stuff is a big deal.
And just to make matters worse I dug out our dear friendMichel Roux “Eggs” book. You may recall my blog about a year ago when I attempted Michel’s roulade with limited success. I should have learnt my lesson and thrown this book away then.
As a girl guide back in the day our motto was “be prepared”. So we were doomed from the start.
Just in from the school run at 3.30pm I crack open the book at “flan pastry” and read that once made it has to rest for 1 – 2 hours before baking. So I hurry the process and by 3.40 the pastry is in the fridge having a wee rest. Not so poor poor mama, now dealing with squeezing homework out of hot, sticky boys.
By 4.30 I can’t wait anymore. If wholesome food is not on the table by 5.30 there is likely to be trouble. The fairly well rested dough is rolled out and subjected to cutting, pricking, parchment wrapping, covered in baking beans and baked “blind” for a precious 20 minutes.
In the meantime Michel and I focus on our fillings. Good job those hens have been on laying form, as this recipe for one quiche requires 3 whole eggs and 6 yolks, and lots of double cream and cheese. That’s a whole lot of eggs! I made two quiche, one traditional bacon lardons and the other salmon and broccoli.


20 minutes later, the beans and the parchment were removed and the pastry subjected to another 15 minutes of the oven. It is approaching 5 pm and already the Gillyboys are restless.
By 5.10 the yummy creamy filling is added, with grated cheese mixed through. Keep calm and carry on.
This bakes for 20 minutes.
It’s 5.30. I’m starting to panic.
“Lower the oven temperature setting.”says Michel. “Cook for another 15 minutes”. I read on…”Scatter cheese flakes over the surface and bake for a final 5 minutes”. I feel like scattering ripped pages of the book around the kitchen. I resist.
Oh my. Another 20 minutes to go. But it was worth it. Golden and glowing the quiche emerge from the oven at 6.50. And no one complained.
With fresh salad leaves, some fried baby potatoes and tomatoes so sweet and juicy we really enjoyed this meal.
I’ve got leftovers for lunch for me and second Gillyboy who is studying at home. I think they may be even nicer cold.
After days of hotel food (yes even lobster) Mr G really does appreciate some good honest home cooking. 😉

PS did I eat the pastry? Well no, I fed it to the dog.

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When Life Gives You Lemons

The Gillybirds have been laying very well and I had a massive glut of eggs. This combined with some heavily discounted lemons, led to a baking session yesterday using Paul Hollywood’s great book “How to Bake”, in particular his Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. It gets a big thumbs up from all the Gillyboys and Mr G himself. Today we shared some of this yummy pud with my parents, since mum cooked a massive rib roast for us all complete with mini Yorkshire puddings!
The list of ingredients includes 6 lemons and no less than 12 eggs. It may sound extravagant but it is well worth it. Today i served twelve portions, and a little of this goes a long way! If you enjoyed the Great British Bake Off on tv recently Paul’s book focuses more on bread making whereas Mary Berry’s books are mostly about baking.

Until I discovered this recipe we always made lemon meringue pie using a wee sachet of powder lemony stuff adding water and an egg yolk and stirring on the stove, making sure the lemon capsule broke to release the flavour of lemons, It is one of the earliest recipes I remember helping my mum to bake. I can honestly say that the process of making my own lemon curd is not any more complicated than this artificial mix, and tastes so much better.


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