Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Introducing Emily ~~~

Gentle Reader ~~~ The weather is dreadful.  We shall not talk about it.  I have not been out in the garden for sometime, between the strong winds and gales, the rain, and my bad back I am letting the weeds grow and do their worst!  I could not mow the lawn during September for I could not push the mower and now the grass is long and wet, quite unsuitable for cutting, and looks so untidy and unkempt, but the birds and wildlife love it and are happy, so I am happy {as long as I don't look too hard at it all} ~~~

However, I am barely able to contain myself with great excitement ~~~ can you hear me sqeeeeealing with delight?  Long have I dreamed of owning a Kitchenaid stand mixer ~~~ by long, I mean over thirty years from the time I was a waitress and saw Chef using a Kitchenaid daily in the restaurant kitchen ~~~ I wanted one so badly that it hurt ~ I would go in to work early just to watch Chef use the Kitchenaid.  Oh, I had it bad ~~~

I dreamed in glorious technicolour dreams ~~~ then, one day I was given an Oster food center.  Now, don't get me wrong, I loved it, I used it daily, but it wasn't a Kitchenaid.  For over 20 years it served me well, but a few months back the arm that held the beaters cracked and it started to smell hot, that sort of burning rubber smell that does not bode well, and so my trusty servant of two decades left the building.  

I bought a hand mixer but after years of having a machine do the work for me, and with arthritis in my hands, it was not the easiest thing to hold and press buttons simultaneously while beating and whisking cakes.
The dough hooks that came with it were as useless for kneading bread dough as a chocolate fireguard ~~~ so I plodded on, but my heart returned to my dream machine ~~~

My birthday approached and I was asked what I would like ~~~ half joking I said "A Kitchenaid" ~~~ imagine my pure delight when that is exactly what I received for my birthday!  So, Gentle Readers ~ my dear friends ~ allow me to introduce Emily ~ yes, I have named my Kitchenaid ~ this is Emily ~~~ isn't she lovely? She looks as if she has always been here, in this very spot ~~~ perfectly at home ~~~


This is Emily in action, less than fifteen minutes after arriving in the cottage {it does not take long to open a box and quickly wash something to use for the first time} ~~~ making a whipped butter cream to fill a chocolate cake ~~~


Well, I could wax lyrical, but I shall try not to be the doting, overly proud owner of a Kitchenaid, so I will move on ~~~ 

Here is some useful information for any baker.  From time to time I am sure we have all had eggs in the house that are fast approaching their best before dates but we do not want to waste them if they are still usable in cooking and baking, but how can you tell if an egg is still fresh enough?  Well, here is a simple trick, and it really, really works!

How to test an egg for freshness ~~~ fill a deep jug or bowl with room temperature water and lower your eggs in.  Depending on what happens next tells you how fresh your eggs really are ~~~

~~~If they sink and lie on their side then they are perfectly fresh.
~~~If they sink and lie slightly at an upward angle, they are a few days old and still good.
~~~If they sink but are more upright in angle, then they are not quite as fresh, but still perfectly good and these are fine for baking.
~~~If, however, your egg does not sink but floats in the water, then it is stale and should be discarded.

It is all about the science and air content inside the egg ~ the more air, the less fresh the egg is, and the more upright it stands in the water and eventually a stale egg, which has a lot of air inside, floats. Simple!

This one was slightly raised and ended up in a chocolate cake ~~~


Here is a recipe for Bara Brith ~~~ This is a traditional Welsh fruit tea bread which is absolutely delicious and keeps quite well ~~~ I did this by hand as Emily had not arrived and does not require a lot of fast beating to incorporate air, more of a gentle stirring to bring the ingredients together.

Ingredients ~~~
6 oz currants {I used dried cranberries this time}

6 oz sultanas
8 oz soft brown sugar
10 fl oz hot strong black tea 
10 oz self raising flour
1 large egg, beaten

I also added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves, {which are not traditional, but I like the flavour}

Make the tea. {I used Whittard of Chelsea's Spice Imperial leaf tea, but you can use any black tea you like, it is fine to try different tea to see which one you like best.  I plan to use Guinness in a future recipe as I am experimenting with flavours at the moment}

Put the dried fruit and sugar in a mixing bowl and pour over the strained hot tea. Leave to soak overnight, or for at least eight hours.  


When the fruit and liquid have soaked and you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients, grease and line a 2lb loaf pan and light your oven to Gas Mark 2 or 150*C and adjust your shelf to just below the middle of the oven.

Sift in the flour {spice if using} and the beaten egg ~~~


Bring the mixture together but do not beat ~~~


Pour into the prepared tin and level off ~~~


Bake for about 90 minutes, until risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean {I also like to listen to see if the cake is still 'singing' ~ a very good method to determine if a cake is cooked ~ if it is still singing it needs a few moments longer}

Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before storing.  Bara Brith keeps well and improves in flavour after a few days ~ if you can keep from eating it fresh, that is ~~~

Mine had a little bit of sinking because I accidentally let go of the oven door when checking on it, but it didn't spoil the cake other than a slight dip in the middle ~~~


Turned upside down and you wouldn't even know!


I think it is best cut in slices about 1cm thick and spread with real butter ~~~ 


It is so easy I do hope you will give it a try.

Delicious served with a cup of hot tea and brings a little salve to my aching heart when I sit and look at the overgrown garden remembering that ~~~


~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~

28 comments:

  1. Hello Deborah!

    Congratulations on your new Kitchen Aid Mixer!! Emily is such a pretty name for her. Now you have inspired me to name my Kitchen Aid! She's a bright red. I have owned her for at least five years, but never thought of giving her a name. Now I must!!

    Thank you for sharing your lovely tea bread recipe. It certainly looks delicious! Such lovely pictures, too. Hope your back feels better soon! Take care! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Rosinda. I know you will come up with a lovely name for yours. I belong to an online group who set this tradition of naming our Kitchenaids. I came up with Emily because Emma and Jane are already taken {reserved for when I can have hens again!} ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  2. Hi, Debs ... thanks for sharing your recipe; it looks tasty! My mom had a Sunbeam Mixmaster when I was growing up, but all I've ever had are the portables. I don't enjoy cooking or baking, but I've sometimes wondered whether a KitchenAid mixer and a Vitamix blender might alter my attitude in the kitchen. (I doubt it!) Hope your back improves and you are able to put your garden to bed as you'd like. Perhaps your lawn will be more lush next year after the grass has re-seeded itself! Hugs from Alabama ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sharon ~ I'm all for making life easier in the kitchen and I am hoping that my diet will improve too. As I type, there is a savoury pumpkin flan in baking for supper and the surplus batter is soaking into some of the bread I baked this morning for a pumpkin breakfast dish!
      One day I *will* have the garden where I can manage it! ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  3. Mmmmm! Bara Brith looks and sounds so wonderful, Deb! I think this will be my first traditional Welsh recipe, just perfect for the holidays. Thanks for sharing your special recipe! Wishing you and Emily a nice, long, happy friendship in your cozy kitchen! ♡

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. G'day Dawn ~~~ I am looking forward to hearing all about your Bara Brith! Do let me know what version you try, and I'd love to see a picture too! ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  4. Dearest Deborah,
    What a lovely lovely buttery yellow machine!! Happy Birthday !!
    Yummy that is a very appetizing cake, something that I think I could
    adapt to a gluten free receipt ;-)
    Emily is going to be a wonderful addition to your household !!
    You are blessed indeed! :-D
    Many Blessings and warmth, Linnie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dear Linnie!
      I have never made this gluten free, but I'm sure it would work well. Do let me know, and I will share the outcome in a later entry if you like.
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  5. Love reading whatever you're writing about! Please tell Emily I'm blowing her a kiss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emily says "thank you" ~ her first words!
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  6. Welcome, Emily!!! She looks SO at home in your kitchen and is such a beautiful, buttery yellow. And, she makes a yummy looking Bara Brith. Our cottage is home to an icy blue Kitchenaid and has made us some delicious dishes, as well. I would gladly take some of your wet weather, as it has not rained nary a drop in over 2 weeks, allowing the goldenrod and ragweed to flourish, reeking havoc on our sinuses. Ugh! We are due for a tiny chance of rain the next few days, so fingers, toes and eyes crossed!!! I do hope that your weather and back improve so that you are able to tuck your garden in for it's log Winter"s nap. Hugs from across the sea ~ Donna E.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Donna ~ so sorry your allergies are continuing. Everyone deserves respite! Praying you get your rain!
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  7. Deborah, I am so sorry to hear that you are still suffering with back issues. What a bummer for a gardener! Your garden will wait for you, dear. Do take care and rest when you can. I know you are going to love your KitchenAid mixer. It is an amazing machine. I can't imagine my kitchen without it! You and Emily are going to have great fun in the kitchen. I must try your recipe--it sounds wonderful for afternoon tea! ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shall plod on as best I can, Martha Ellen and accept I must allow my back to heal, which is more important than dead heading a few flowers. Yes, I already love Emily! Do let me know how you get on with the recipe.
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  8. Dear Debs, So glad you love your Kitchenaid! I felt the same way early this spring when I got mine, too! Couldn't believe it!! What a difference in baking!! Your Welsh fruit bread looks heavenly. I wonder if I could raisins instead of sultanas with craisins? Also, thank you for the egg test. Happy baking!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jane! Yes, you can switch out fruit and swap them for another. I see no reason why you couldn't even use dried apricots if you chopped them up small enough. Let me know how it goes!
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  9. Hey Debs!
    Emily is so pretty! I can see what you are going to be doing all Winter long. LOL! I imagine the baking smells coming from your kitchen will drive anyone passing by crazy with hunger.

    I am glad that you will have a machine to do the heavy work for you and save your hands from hurting. Happy Birthday, my friend. May Emily serve you well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! Yes, my Dear Friend! All Winter long ~~~ piling on the pounds too if I let that happen. Thank you for the birthday wishes
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  10. What a fabulous birthday gift! I have had my Kitchenaid for about 7 years and can't imagine the kitchen without it now. Like you, I wanted one for the longest time and had deep Kitchenaid envy! Have fun together! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Penny ~~~ yes, we are getting along really well!
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  11. That is very useful information about egg testing that I did not know. I've always relied on the date on the carton since we always get store-bought eggs. But if I were to get them from a farm stand, I will have to try this out. I had an Oster Center for 30 years! And just got my KitchenAid this year, too. I didn't have a spot for it in my appliance garage because it was so tall. When we needed a new microwave we decided to put it over the stove which freed up the microwave cabinet for the KitchenAid! Things always work out if you're patient. Right?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cathy ~ remember "if you build it, they will come"? Well, I made the space and my Kitchenaid came to fill it!
      I now no longer rely on the date for eggs and test them all, even ones with a good date on them can slip through and be stale or bad, and ones past their best before can be good for up to ten days, sometimes longer, and I cannot abide waste! I always crack my eggs into a cup too, never straight into the ingredients!
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
    2. I did that with my porch! I bought a porch swing before I had a porch roof to hang it from. We had a porch slab, but no roof. It was only a couple years before we had the money to have a roof built. And I may have also done that with getting a granddaughter. For years I've been buying "girl" things at yard sales and finally this year I got a granddaughter! :-)

      Delete
  12. Oooh, Emily is just beautiful!... I have always wanted a Kitchenaide too, but sadly, do not have one... looks like you are so enjoying yours, and that cake looks divine!... do hope your back is getting better... and although you call your weather dreadful, it has given you a chance to rest up some!... I kind of like storms when I can just stay inside and rest up and daydream a bit... Happy Birthday to you also!... not sure when it was, but I do hope it was a nice one!... xoxo... Julie Marie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Dear Julie Marie ~ yes, my back is improving slowly and I managed some light gardening yesterday, but too little too late now as the weather closes in. Thank you for the birthday wishes!
      ~~~waving~~~

      Delete
  13. You lucky girl, I was like you & had an old Kenwood from my parents. Then that same smell came & she had to go. I sold a lot of items on Ebay when we downsized to the cottage & bought my Kitchenaid which I love. I have fibromyalgia & she is a god send.
    I am going to try your recipe, it sounds yummy.
    Fondly Michelle

    ReplyDelete
  14. hello deborah,
    a kitchen aid stand on my wishlist.thanks for the recipe, i will it try.
    have a wonderful week,
    regina

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'd have some of that cake with tea. During a game of D&Dr.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by today ~ I love reading your comments