Archive for April, 2010

Who’s For Brunch?

18/04/2010

It’s a conundrum. You wake up at 10, too late to be satisfied by toast but not really ready for sandwich time. And that is why brunch was invented. I’m a bit obsessed with brunch. I always try to make Sunday mornings a bit of an event; consider it my church – if you don’t find that too blasphemous (and if you do, well, erm, yeah).

I’m always on the search for good brunch eateries as well. And whilst there’s a plethora of them in London, it appears Guildford is barren. That may be to harsh, there’s a few places, but to be honest I’d rather stay in my pjs than run the risk of Cafe Rouge (sticky tables and crap eggs), Cote (breakfast service run by teenage boys) or Haha (don’t get me started). Giraffe is consistently good, but the atmosphere isn’t really the place you can sit and read the paper for an hour. What I’m looking for is the ideal brunch, which to me can be a variation of either one amazing dish, various courses, bits and pieces all combined on the plate, or just pastries. There must be coffee, always coffee!

I’m also thinking of the Golden Age of brunch, one I had at the Westin in Dublin. I’ve been twice, and both times have involved 12 family members squished around a table for six people, indulging in course after course of salmon, eggs, pastries, fruit; it even had sushi(!) gateaux and tiramisu. All in all, we spent about three hours chatting, and I think this is the heart of brunch. It’s the ritual of coming together, not being rushed, picking at things, preparing yourself for whatever the afternoon may bring.

So with that, I’m tackling the first course of brunch: cereal. Or granola to be more specific. I made it myself, after finding shop bought either teeth-dissolvingly sweet or that you are chewing on wallpaper paste. It’s so simple, and means you can include whatever you want.

The aim to is to get the oats dried out and crunchy, so in the oven it goes with butter, honey, nuts and seeds. Though, my dad is trying to avoid high sugar, so maybe next time I’ll give it a go with agave nectar. Then once that has cooled, add in your dried fruit. Simple!

So, I have that course tackled.

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Unjinxed Cupcakes

18/04/2010

Recently I’ve been having a bit of trouble making cupcakes. Whilst they’re perfectly edible, they either lack the taste of the perfect cupcake, or the iced top looks like someone has dropped it. These ‘failures’ led me to believe I’m jinxed.

However, I’m back and have regained my semi-formed prowess. Cakes of choice were some rosewater cupcakes, perfectly scented (though my jinx worries were that the cake would smell like ‘l’eau de granny’, ending up smelling like a blue-rinsed, eighty year old’s boudoir. MMmm think about that as you bite into it). But adding teeny amounts bit by bit prevented this, and with just a smidgen of patience – something I’m yet to excel at – voila!

Though now I just want to make every cupcake recipe going. Think I may have to pace this ambition.

A note on decorations though – I always find that the cupcakes in cafes and bakeries have far too much icing. I always try and go a bit light on the icing as otheriwse the cake itself becomes heavily masked, surely they have nothing to hide? Though I do have a friend who only eats the icing, leaving her boyfriend with the soggy naked cupcake. I suppose it’s down to taste, but one dollop does me, compared to the three the book recommended.

So far, positive reviews from the family, and as usual I’m sure work will be grateful for some sweet morsels to take the edge off the Monday morning rush. I’ll save one for my brother as well, ‘cos he’s had a crappy day, and I’m sure he’ll love nothing better than a pink, flowery and glittery cake. Hmm, maybe he’ll be nice and give it to his girlfriend.

*apologies for the bad photos, still looking for that darn charger…