1001 Kitchen tips #68 - Avoiding a cake wreck - how to save a cake mix that has curdled

Sunday, January 22, 2012
Looks like my new year's resolution to finish work before midnight is falling by the wayside already - this was made sometime around 1am the other day.
Coconut and passionfruit cake
When a blogger offers their handy hints on the recipe 'Don't overwork the batter' - don't ignore it!
I'm not a pastry chef - as I went to college on my days off I neatly avoided the pastry course, and became more of a larder specialist. Everything in the pastry/ dessert line I've either learned from my mum and grandmothers (they had us cooking from the moment we could stand on a stool at the worktop without falling off it) or I've taught myself. So I tend to learn by trial and error. The other day it was the turn of error to make an appearance.......
Woops - curdled cake mix
I had ignored the recipe and creamed the butter and sugar and then added the eggs - probably too fast (it was late). Adding lemon juice to that doesn't help. 

Don't worry however - all is not lost. There's always an answer:

  1. Normally when adding flour it brings the cake mix back to life & it is saved. However this recipe had only a minimum amount of flour - not enough to bind it.
  2. Try adding cornflour - like thickening sauces, it can bring cake mixes together. Only a little though - you don't want to make it heavy. Cornflour works better for this than normal flour as it's lighter.
  3. Add a little warm water - this can sometimes bring it back - the same way you can save a split hollandaise.
  4. If all that fails (it did) - I found you can stick the kenwood mixing bowl over the gas flame for a few seconds  [obvious note - needs to be a stainless steel bowl - the plastic ones have a tendency to melt in a gas flame]. This gives it a little heat which softens the butter a little - this brought the mix back together with a little whisking and saved the cake!
All in a morning's work.



Surprise birthday party catering in Droitwich, Worcestershire - Childrens party, trio seafood, whole dover sole and assiette of desserts

Monday, January 16, 2012
"I've always dreamed of this!..... Getting caterer's in."

It's always good when everyone can keep it a secret right till the last moment. Last Saturday it was for a special birthday in Droitwich and the birthday girl's husband and the rest of the family had kept it a secret right to the moment they turned up back at their house after being out for the afternoon.

Children's tea

Firstly it was time for a (grand)children's sitting at 5:30 before the evening kicked off. 
Macaroni cheese - everyone's favourite comfort food

Finishing touches on the knickerbocker glory

Adults meal

Canapés to start (2 of the 5 below)

Mini burgers in homemade carrot and cumin buns
Spoon of seared scallop, asparagus puree and shiitake mushroom
Starter - trio of seafood starters - Homemade salmon gravadlax [on cauliflower and fennel coleslaw], smoked  halibut and marinated artichoke, spoon of crayfish and mango 
Then for the main course it was a split - some of the family had grilled fillet steak, a couple had asked for whole dover sole (it was the birthday girl's favourite). It's something you hardly ever see on a menu - you have to go to five star hotels & michelin restaurants. Rick Stein would do it. We could do it too. It's been a while - we used to do 10 or so a day at Claridges. Always around 10:50pm we'd get the room service dover sole orders, just as we were due to finish at 11pm - great for a bit of waiter-chef banter. When you were on the fish section Saturday was dover sole day.
Whole dover sole - whole before prepping at the house - head and tail come off , roe taken out,, de-scaled and then washed & dried.

Cooked meuniere - that paella pan has more than one use - these were 1 lb weight each -  so needed the biggest pan possible.  

Deboned after cooking and put back together, with the pan juices strained into the  lemon beurre noisette spooned on top. So delicious. Should have made it 3 ;)

Birthday assiette of dessert. The chocolate writing went down  so well we had to clean the plate around it after the meal so it could be kept!
Shotglass of eton mess, shotglass of raspberry sorbet, strawberry meringue roulade, spoon of sticky toffee pudding and glazed lemon tart


Lime and lychee sorbet

Saturday, January 07, 2012

That was the sound of Christmas and New Year flying by.
A wedding on the 23rd, so many Christmas lunch deliveries on the 24th, a fully catered 3 day private booking over Christmas eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day near Cirencester, another Christmas Day event, then straight in to New Year's eve eve and New Year's eve parties. Boom!

This sorbet from Christmas Eve was a hit. Something simple among all the other feasting. Recipe from here. I used rose cordial rather than rosewater - hence the pinkish tinge. Didn't use egg white either - keep it safe as I didn't have pasteurized white on hand. I might have added a bit of gin as well. Maybe.

Too long since I had had lychees - they make this sorbet nice and 'creamy' - try it! Would be a good one for an assiette dessert too.