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Denial Cakes

Denial cakesNow that the Christmas decorations have come down and the last of the leftovers have finally been consumed, the true gloominess of January presents itself. Dark, cold and probably very, very wet,  the month is bad enough before you resolve to try and become a better person by joining a gym and giving up alcohol for a few weeks. Why do we do this to ourselves every year? I’ve yet to meet someone who has claimed their life changed because they went out and bought a new pair of trainers on the 1st of January, or became ‘more approachable’ by writing it down in their diary.

It is silly to inflict this torture on ourselves in what is already one of the worst months of the year. Instead, I suggest moving the ‘new year, new you‘ resolutions to February. By the second month of the year, your body will no longer expect you to start drinking at breakfast time and have pudding and cheese after every meal, you will have got used to putting 2013 as the date (even if you haven’t quite got over how ugly that number sounds) and, most importantly, February is only 28 days long. This makes any goals you’ve set yourself seem far more achievable, and by postponing these aims by a month, you’ll feel super-smug as you sip green tea and snack on carrot sticks while everyone around you gave up 2 weeks ago.

So sod January, I’m in denial.

Which leads me to the cakes. I am not, by any means, an accomplished baker. Last summer I decided it would be nice to make cookies to take into the office on the last day of my internship. Sadly, I had no idea what I was doing and the resulting cookies were hard and bitter. Still, I took them in for my colleagues, and most of them sampled them. Only the boss turned down the chance to try my  (I quote) ‘rock cakes’, but it turned out he’d gone and bought Prosecco and a Victoria sponge for us all instead which was much better.

What I lack in baking skills, I make up for in eating ability. There is a long-running joke in my family about my devotion to brandy butter. Every year the brandy butter comes out with the Christmas pudding and every year I have to wait until everyone else has helped themselves to brandy butter because they all know that, if I had it my way, I would eat the entire bowl without coming up for air. So when I came across a recipe for brandy butter cupcakes, I knew I was onto a winner. I waited until Twelfth Night to make them, to have a last blow-out of Christmassy food. Then I realised we were out of brandy. Instead of giving up on baking and going to watch The Holiday for the 450th time, I decided to make rum fairy cakes instead. With ‘cheery’ rum buttercream icing.
It is unlikely that you’ll want to give these a go, but if the photos of my creation (doctored on Instagram to make them look slightly more appetising) inspire you, here is the recipe.

You will need:

(For the cakes)

  • 75g margarine 
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp dark rum

(For the icing)

  • 50-75g of softened butter (I started with 50g but ended up adding more)
  • 100g icing sugar
  • Dark rum (to taste)
  • Vanilla extract (to taste)
  • Food colouring
  • Silver sugar balls

To make denial cakes:

  1. Preheat fan oven to 160 C
  2. Line fairycake tin with 12 paper cases
  3. Place sugar and butter in bowl and cream together with electric whisk
  4. Add the eggs and whisk
  5. Sieve the flour into the bowl and continue to whisk
  6. Still whisking, add the vanilla essence and rum
  7. Spoon mixture into cases
  8. Place cakes in oven and leave to cook for 10-15mins

To make the icing:

  1. Make sure you’re butter is really really soft before you start!!! I didn’t do this so for a long time my butter’cream’ looked more like crumble mixture
  2. Cut up the butter into small chunks, then place in a bowl and whisk
  3. Add the icing sugar and continue to whisk, turning the bowl in your hand as you do so
  4. Still whisking, add the vanilla extract and rum to taste (I put in a tsp of vanilla and a good slosh of rum)
  5. If desired, add food colouring. After raiding the kitchen cupboard, I found a bottle of red food colouring and a bottle of blue colouring. I thought that combining the two might make a nice festive purple, but in fact it resulted in weird palma violet shade. I then added a load more blue colouring so the icing ended up looking a bit like a Muppet had vomited on the cakes.
  6. Spoon the icing onto the cakes. Top with silver sugar ball (remember when eating to swallow this whole to avoid cracking your teeth)
  7. Eat
Purple denial cake

The weird violet coloured icing. And the muppet coloured ones in the background.

Although the cakes didn’t really rise all that well, and the icing didn’t look that appetising, they actually tasted ok. I suppose you can’t go too far wrong where sugar, rum and vanilla is concerned.

I’ll now spend the rest of the week stuffing my face with these whilst pinning nice spring pictures to Pinterest to trick myself into thinking winter is already over.


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Filed under Adventures, Cooking

Recipe for a Disastrous Dinner

I’ve vowed not to buy any more meat until October. I’m also trying to use up what’s left in my cupboard before leaving halls forever next weekend. This resulted in last night’s dinner disaster. You’d think egg-fried rice which I’ve made approximately 4 billion times this year would be a piece of cake. You’d be wrong. Last night was less egg-fried rice, and more a kind of vegetable rice stew. If you fancy making yourself feel a bit queasy, feel free to follow the recipe below (enough for 2, or for one if you enjoy it so much you want leftovers the next day!).

You will need:

A saucepan

A wok

A wooden spoon

Brown rice (don’t measure it, just whack in far more than you could possibly ever eat)

Vegetable stock powder (again, as much as possible)

Chicken stock powder (roughly the same amount as the veg stock)

Button mushrooms (lots)

A liberal quantity of frozen peas

Chopped red and green pepper

Half a courgette (diced)

2 medium-large eggs

A bottle of soy sauce.


1. Pour vast quantity of the brown rice into the saucepan. Run under the cold water tap until you think there’s enough in there.

2. Put rice on mid-heat on the hob, and leave for 30 minutes whilst you go and watch iPlayer in your flatmate’s bed.

3. Return to the rice. See that it hasn’t come to the boil. Throw in a shed load of veg stock powder. Plus a bit more.

4. Stir. Watch the stock begin to turn the water/rice mix sticky.

5. Taste it. Realise it tastes and smells like that revolting vegetable soup they forced you to eat in nursery. Pour in further shed load of chicken stock powder (despite previously swearing off meat). Stir.

6. Realise you have made a horrible, congealed rice gravy. Notice that you have now passed the point where you could’ve drained off the excess water. Try to boil it off instead.

7. Watch the rice gravy begin to stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

8. Meanwhile…. heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Bring to a heat where you are at risk of being scolded when it splashes back as you drop the vegetables in.

9. Drop the vegetables in. Watch for hot oil splashback! When you inevitably feel the pain of a splash of hot oil on your skin, run under cold tap until the pain subsides. Try not to flood the kitchen, despite the fact the sink is full of a fortnight’s worth of washing up.

10. Stir veg. Notice that none of it has softened yet, and that the peas are still frozen. Ignore this fact, because you are bloody hungry and have better things to be doing.

11. Stir again, adding so much soy sauce that the peas begin to float in an oil-and-soy puddle.

12. Add the rice gravy to the wok. Stir. Add yet more soy sauce. Stir. Taste. Try not to cry.

See point 12

13. Crack one egg into the mixture. Stir. Don’t bother checking if it’s cooked yet.

14. Add the second egg. This time, don’t dump it in in one go, but let the egg white trickle out around the wok, and try and split the yolk with the egg shell, in turn, getting egg shell into the wok. Leave and watch the egg white turn from clear to, well, white. Stir.

15. Taste again. You really should’ve checked those peas were cooked first shouldn’t you? Woops. Oh well, too late. Does it need some more soy sauce? Why the hell not. Does it need some salt and pepper? HELL NO! The veg stock has put your monthly allowance of salt in there for you.

16. Slop onto a plate in the way Mr Bumble’s cooks dispensed gruel to poor Oliver Twist in the workhouse (don’t worry, you won’t be wanting more!)

17. TUCK IN!

18. Show off your dinner to others. Watch them laugh. Hear them refuse to try it. Watch their eyes light up as your face contorts in revulsion. Eventually persuade them to try some. Watch them nudge it around the plate before eventually opening wide. Hear that it is ‘not great, but still kinda edible’. YES, another culinary success!

19. Wake up the next morning feeling rather ill. Wonder why. Remember last night’s dinner.

20. Vow to never go there again.

21. Think the hell is over. Then walk into the kitchen and remember you've got all this to wash this up, because there is no way you can eat these leftovers for lunch


Filed under Cooking