Splice A Slice Cheesecake

September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Splice A Slice Cheesecake is not without a history. Many years ago, back in the mid-80’s I was sailing in the Mediterranean when I met Christina who was on another yacht. We spent quite a time together in France and formed a great friendship. As is the nature of yachting, one boat leaves and another arrives, more friends are made, and more friends depart for other shores. It somehow though seemed as though Christina and I would again meet up in different places, sometimes months apart. Exchange experiences, catch up on things yachting, swap recipes often gleaned from other “yachties”, and generally spend a fair deal of time shooting the breeze. Indeed, I got to know Christina over a three month period when we practically lived side by side in Malta…..a winter of repairs, lots of shopping, lots of varnishing and a heap of splicing!…..Christina taught me how to splice a rope…joining two halves strongly into one. Quite an art in itself. Eventually we last saw each other in Cyprus, exchanging contact details once again….and we set off into the sunset yet again – for the last time. I eventually ended up living in Mauritius for 3 years, and finally in 1988 returned to South Africa and a home in Wilderness, Western Cape. That life ended in November 1996, when I lost my home and all I owned in a dramatic flood. Save for a couple of pets and my family, the rest was lost forever, including of course my contact for Christina. Shortly after all this happened I moved to Knysna, and started a new life. In every respect. The years passed, and I often wondered how or where to contact Christina. From time to time I would scratch through the internet hoping to find a lead, but nothing turned up. About a month ago, I was again thinking about her, and typed her name as I had always done into the Google search bar….and there was one reference to Christina……a picture of her handing over a cheque at a charity do in Gibraltar!…….It had to be her….nose pressed to monitor….was it her? I remembered her as a slender little person with an impish face, but then she would have been in her twenties….and now she would be in her fifties….how time can play with ones mind. So I wrote to the charity, and the next day……I get……..Christina!…..got the headphones, got the Skype. Christina now lives in Spain. We are back in touch, and the first thing Christina did was send me a recipe for fudge that I remembered she made so well. Mine had gone in the flood, and now I had it back!……..plus of course the cheesecake. I have incorporated the word “splice” into the name, as it references to the joining together of two loose ends, which in this case is highly appropriate. Make the cake, and enjoy it with your good friends. It is really easy, and hopefully will create wonderful memories for you too.

 

  SPLICE A SLICE CHEESECAKE

Base

110 g digestive biscuits or tea biscuit of choice

Sufficient butter to wet crumbs to sticky consistency

 

Filling

60g castor sugar

350g smooth cream cheese

2 large egg yolks

Grated rind and juice of two lemons

10g powdered gelatine

150ml double cream – or a mixture of whipping cream and crème fraiche.

 

Method

Melt the butter and mix into crumbed biscuits. Spread and flatten into a loose bottomed tin that has been slightly oiled, and put into fridge to cool.

Prepare the gelatine according to the packet instructions.

Put the egg yolks, the cheese, and the sugar into a liquidiser and blend for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and the lemon rind as well as the gelatine and blend to smooth.

Whip the cream to a floppy consistency, and add to the blender mixture, blending again for a few seconds.

Pour the mixture over the biscuit base, cover with foil and leave in fridge for at least 3 hours.

Decorate

 

1 Bottle Goldcrest sour cherries

1 sachet Ruf Tortenguss

Method

I found this little Tortenguss product on the Pick n Pay shelf along with the general baking supplies. It is added to the juice of your fruit and gives you a gorgeous clear glaze. You simply decorate your cheesecake with the whole cherries, and then pour your glaze over to finish. Alternatively, make some little lemon rind decorations or chocolate leaves….and make sure to share it with good friends.

Happy Spring Day!

September 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Crumbs! I haven’t managed to get back to my blog for quite a time now.  I always remember how when we were at school the holidays simply never seemed to draw closer.  December was simply an ever elusive month.  Middle-age……….December is about upon us!  The days rush by at an incredible speed, and from thinking Valentines day quite recently, we are suddenly plunged into Spring, with Christmas very hot on it’s heels.  It is quite a juggle to get everything done.  Maybe as we get older we just get slower…….and it appears that everything else is on steroids.  Having said that, it is afternoon, and I so wanted to be here early this morning to welcome you all into our first official spring day.  Well, better late than never, and here are a couple of my cupcakes that I thought you might enjoy……..all spring themed.  So have a wonderful season, and may the sun shine brightly on all that you do and on all your summery days.  And yes, do visit this link where you can guess the secret ingredient in one of my adventurous cupcakes.  It is larger than the normal, decorated with edible gold leaf apples, and hides a little secret inside which could earn you a lovely prize.  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=228832030502470  HAPPY HAPPY SPRING DAY..www.cakesandcookies.co.za or fb CakesAndCookies.

Whisks And Beeton

July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

My fascination for old recipe books was fully satiated recently with a precious find of “Mrs Beeton’s All-About Cookery” published in 1909. The preface to the book reads as follows. “Mrs. Beeton has been the guide, philosopher, and friend of countless happy homes for more than half a century.  Her Cookery Books have appeared amongst the wedding presents of every bride as surely as the proverbial salt cellars, and thousands of grateful letters from all English-speaking countries testify that they have often proved the most useful gifts of all.  Mrs. Beeton’s competitors have paid her the compliment of imitation and adaption up to, and sometimes beyond, the limits that the law allows, but her work stands to-day, as of old, without a rival.  Press and public alike proclaim its merits, and even the writers of romances of domestic life have recorded how it constantly rescues young housekeepers from perplexity and woe.” Interestingly, and I stand corrected, I don’t think Mrs. Beeton ever actually published her own works.  She died a week after the birth of her fourth child in January 1865, at the age of 28. Nonetheless, her books on cookery and household management were regarded as a bible of social etiquette, and culinary perfection.  The interesting part of this book, besides the numerous colour plates, is the section on Colonial and Foreign Cookery.  I was most surprised to find part of the book dedicated to South African recipes, such as Honing Kock (honey cake), Brood Khutjes (bread dumplings) and of course Gesmoorde Hoender (stewed fowl). Taken from the preface, Mrs. Beeton has this to say on the Colonial and Foreign Cookery section. ” This branch has received particular attention.  Australian, American, Canadian, South African, German, Italian, and all foreign cookeries, have been dealt with.  Amongst the recipes are all the most opular and typical dishes of the Continental nations and the Colonists, so that Britons living under other skies may learn how to combine the dishes of their adopted country with those of the Motherland.  We at home may also gain variety in our own menus, and learn how to give complimentary and characteristic repasts when welcoming guests from abroad”. Quaint I say.  I have always got quite excited when rummaging through old books to find housewives shopping lists.  It always gives one a nice insight into what food cost “way back then”, but in this instance Mrs Beeton has worked out the costs of a menu to give the cook some guidance on expenditure.  In the instance of the Gesmoorde Hoender, she has priced the meal for 4 or 5 persons at 3s. 6d. which I understand to be 3 shillings and 6 pence……can someone do the arithmetic?…what would that be in rands and cents? In her paragraph on pricing she points out the difficulties of estimation saying “Some provisions fluctuate greatly in price from day to day, whilst a very great difference indeed exists between the cost of purchases made in town or country, for cash or for credit, by mistress or maid….” The other aspect of the book which makes it supremely enjoyable are the plate illustrations of cooking utensils.  The only items that are recognisable to me in the illustration that I have provided beneath are the colander and whisk.  They appear to have been big on chafing dishes, Dutch ovens, and in another illustration something called a bottle roasting jack.  There is also a bottle jack roasting screen. Again, in that page of illustrations the only thing recognisable is the mincing or sausage machine with a table clamp – my mom has one of those!…….And I am left to wonder – is today’s food which has been Kitchen Aid – ed, Russell Hobb -ed, electrically pulverised, Bosch blitzed and served up, taste any better than all this real sweat and tears food?……

How To Look Good (B)aked.

July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is cold and raining, dark and gloomy, and a perfect day and setting for a good winge.  A good Monday winge on a subject that has been “bugging” me for quite a while.  It all boils, or rather cooks down to the lack of respect people have for presenting food in photographs.  I am not really only referring to bloggers, but also to magazines, one in particular.  I bought a well known magazine a few months back, not for the recipes as such, but more for my entertainment. It was a case of spot-the-errors, and all for a couple of rand, kept me relatively amused for quite a while.  I have never seen “professional” photography quite at such a low ebb.  One does not mind some delicious looking gravy oozing slightly over the side of a dish, but burnt, black and unattractive scorched pastry which would startle a pot scourer is totally inexcusable.  Dirty cutlery which is by accident and not by design, and crumbs where crumbs should not be add up to shabby in my book.  Surprising, because the magazine has been on our shelves for years, and always paid immaculate attention to detail.  No fair lady would have presented her dishes quite like this. All this reminds me of my years just past graduating from art school in the 70’s.  One of my first jobs was with a top commercial photographer based in central Johannesburg.  At the time, he was working on the Royco Cup Of Soup stills adverts, and it was my baptism into the quirky world of the food stylist.  Judy Page, gorgeous as she was, was the model, and the soup was prepared in a glass with one of those metal handle things, which used to be very fashionable.  The packet of soup was not though prepared according to the instuctions.  We must have emptied at least five of them into a jug, (and if memory serves me correctly we added some wallpaper paste), mixed it all up, poured it into the cup and then proceeded to arrange all the noodles up against the glass.  All pre-dating Photoshop, the steam was later airbrushed into the picture, and voila!……..a gorgeous styled advert.  I think my attention was really drawn to the subject recently when I entered a competition run by an Italian olive oil company.  I ended up in the final 10 from the which the winner for a trip for 6 to Italy would be chosen, based on a cook-off.  My initial impression was that all save three, looked so desperately unattractive at the outset, that I would not have been one bit enticed to cook them myself.  I am not saying that everyone has a photographic talent and understanding of food presentation,  but when putting your food into the public domain, I think, that just as you would not go shopping in your shabbiest attire in public, why put under dressed food much into the same position.  We all know that a Wimpy burger on TV looks nothing like the one we get served up at their outlets, because care has been taken to make them look appetizing.  Whether the advertising agency has added starch to the buns and made the cheese slice out of painted polystyrene, we have no idea, but attractive it does look.  I don’t think anyone needs to make a shabby job of a food photograph these days.  The digital age has it all sorted for us, and with a little help from a graphics programme we can add and remove without working up much of a sweat.  After all, is it not about selling the sizzle more than the steak?

Food For Thought

July 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

It has been quite a week all in all. Launching a new product, updating my wrapper selection with the new ones that have become available, new price lists…the list goes on. It is never tedious, and I really enjoy presenting my new items – photographing them, dressing them up, and decorating them.  I don’t consider it “a job”, as I have always been fortunate to make my so called work, out of what is really a hobby.  I have always had great fun using paper, and if one can combine that joy with cooking, then indeed I am very blessed.  Winter is very tough, especially I think in “holydayish” coastal towns, and Knysna is no different.  The cold seems to bring on a sort of slower than slow kind of mood, and people even start reversing out of parking spaces at half of a good summer speed.  Life slows down, and maybe we should take note, that perhaps this is why some little creatures go into hibernation.  On the other hand, there are lots of creatures that still need to sustain life in fairly harsh conditions.  I am used to the pigeons staring at me through my little pantry window, pleading for a couple of cupcake crumbs, and I always oblige although I do believe that I am a total pushover.  Then again, I am probably one of the luckiest people in town…….I have made friends with a Knysna Loerie – and boy, is he handsome!…we have become breakfast friends, and bananas, mango, pawpaw……..well he just loves it all, and the reward is tremendous for me. There are a lot of people who have lived in this town for many many years and have never seen a Loerie.  I have my own little star! He is a tremendous distraction for me (and four cats), but the pleasure of looking at him will never cease.  I am almost in touching distance! 

Share your fruit, bread and crumbs……..birds are people too!  But back to my new products.  Macarons or Macaroons are the new babes on the block, and I must say fairly challenging to make.  I must say that I initially thought that these were the little coconut jobs that I remember making in my Brownie days, way way way back in time.  One of those little tasks you had to perform to earn as I recall a “thrift” badge. Wrong. Nothing to do with coconut at all.  Well, I have made them three times from the same recipe, and my initial foray into the job turned up some real gems.  I was ever so plucked with my skill.  Then we needed to repeat the excercise, and they all came out cracked.  Third time was not as good as the first, and with bills for almonds and eggs mounting I was hoping to just find some at a bakery that would do for my photographs.  No such luck, so I kind of managed with what I had.  Skillful placement in a photograph is what wallpaper is to blemished walls. Once I had the little models, it was time to christen the new packaging and reveal the name.  I decided to call my two new packaging concepts the “Macaringue” – a combination of macaron and meringue for which they are both ideally suited.  Available in all colour combinations, the larger box is ideal for all kinds of sweet treats, and the little one is perfect for a macaron or two, or perhaps a mini-meringue or two.  Enjoy……..and remember, all our little creatures are also entitled to treats – trust me, the pleasure they will bring you is immeasurable.

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Rising to the occasion – with Royal Baking Powder -1929

July 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

My personal taste in recipe books are those that read more like stories above those which simply have recipe after recipe without much inbetween.  By far the most enjoyable amongst my collection of books are my vintage ones which are filled with little cameos illustrating life before the Kitchen Aid.  I have to admit that probably my absolute favourite comes out of a book called “Any one can Bake” – published in 1929.  There is a half page, dedicated to “How to open any Royal Baking Powder Tin “, followed by an interesting foreword which goes on to say, “In the cottage kitchen and in the kitchen of the great house upon the hill, there is equal facility for producing foods which combine pleasing appearance with exquisite flavour”…….

I must say that I was fairly horrified recently when I read on a popular facebook page that Woolworths was running “tours” for parents to learn what to put into their childrens lunchboxes.  My little book has a section on “Wholesome Baking For Children” with a delightful black and white illustration captioned “Oh, look what mother gave me!” and followed with a section on “The School Lunch Box”. It goes on to say -“Sandwiches of home-baked nut and fruit breads, preferably sweetened with molasses – home-made cookies, cup cakes and muffin surprises – with what youthful glee is each new thing in the dainty “mother-packed” lunch box pounced upon and devoured! In the preparation of the lunch to be carried to school there is a big opportunity for the mother to use her ingenuity in selecting wholesome, nourishing foods of sufficient variety, so that the child welcomes the lunch hour”.  The page is then filled with delightful suggestions of sandwiches thinly cut into “lady fingers” and other things which are complete common sense.  I wonder what happened to us along the way……1929 seemed to have it right, and my mother got it mostly right – besides once giving me a fruit salad in a Tupperware beaker that burst in my school bag.  Sometimes I think we need to get back to basics – none of us 1954’ers were raised on organic, and vegetables still had ladybirds crawling around on them. Woolworths tours?………I say commercial clap-trap! And in case you have never managed to open your Royal Baking Powder Tin, do read on…..

Victorian Decorative Paper Cupcake Cases

July 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

It has been quite a year and a half since I first put my cupcake wrappers on the market.  I guess I have been fortunate to have had wonderful exposure to my wrappers, and in turn, I have been blessed with the most wonderful customers, some of whom have become friends…….never met, but kindred spirits.  I was proud to be the first person in South Africa to introduce locally crafted cupcake wrappers.  I must admit, that I never quite expected the excitement that I infused into the baking fraternity. The business has grown, and with it some new ideas which will be launched shortly. One has to move onwards and upwards!..new trends, new ideas, and it is always great to be the first to reveal new concepts.

 In a strange sort of way, I think I must have pre-existed in Victorian times, and often find myself in second hand book stores ferreting around on the dusty recipe book shelves.  I recently found a book by Fred T. Vine, which unfortunately is undated.  It’s title is “Cakes And How To Make Them”…….a Pandora’s box of baking gems.  I am trying to date the book, but I imagine by the old fashioned wording in the text and the contents, that it was published in the early 1900’s.  On one of the pages appears the quaintest advertisement for Cheverton & Laidler cupcake baking papers.  I loved the bit about having “10,000 lots printed round the outside with your name free of charge”.  I plan to add pages from my book collection at regular intervals, and some little pearls of interest that are enclosed within the covers. Join me on the journey, and enjoy!

The Perfect Little Cupcake Shop

June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is really hard to get to update my blog on a daily basis.  It would be great if I had the leisurely time to do so, but with a busy growing business it really just has to fit into the day when my tootsies are just too tired to hold me up any more.  Time to let one’s imagination go for a little walk, whilst the feet get to take a break.  I love this little picture that I took in De Rust earlier this year when I had to make haste to Johannesburg.  It was 6 am when I passed this little country shop, really quite in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  It delighted me, although it might appear to be a trifle spooky.  I kind of imagined that it would make a marvellous little cupcake shop…….but I fear, the only customers would be for the crumbs……..probably ants and birds would be in abundance.  An enchanting place, and probably fairly busy in holiday season with motorists maybe noticing it tucked away just off a main road.  I simply adored it, and hope you let your imaginations also go for a little stroll.   

Happy Customers

June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Happy customers come in all shapes and forms, and their praise is always highly appreciated. I have made cakes (lots of) and cupcakes plenty………and wrappers thousands.  I enjoy getting mail from all over the world, some from quite unlikely places.  Finland and Portugal included.  One of my most appreciative customers I think comes from Robindale, South Africa.  He has feathers. About a year ago, I noticed Captain Robino, a buxom Cape Robin, peeping at me through my little bakery window.  Then I noticed that he was flying in and eating the cat food……….4 cats, lots of food!……..He seems to be a fearless little bird, knowing where in, and where out.  A charming customer.  He is totally partial to cake crumbs, and I understand his twitter so much better than I understand Twitter.  He chirps in spasms of less than 140 characters per tweet, and knows how to stick to social rules.  Only eat the leftovers.  I promise to take a picture of my little friend and post it here soon.  And then of course, I have another seriously appreciative customer.  Lily.  The only cat that I know of that can take a snooze on a warm sponge cake! Pictures posted. 

Cakes And Cookies Cupcake Wrappers

June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Cupcakes and cupcake wrappers are the business of www.cakesandcookies.co.za Manufacturing in Knysna, and using imported and local papers, the wrappers are highly suited to use for weddings where cupcakes are the cake. Usually topped off with a little “mother cake” on the top tier, the concept is modern and highly attractive.  For use in favours for little wedding gifts to guests, what might be the ordinary is elevated into a stylish little treat.  Cakes And Cookies wrappers are the ultimate in style, and certainly are the product of choice where you are trying to avoid a “supermarkety, off the peg look”.