30 March 2011

I’m officially putting the blog into hiatus till June. I will be working long hours in April and May, and while I usually enjoy my job, at the moment I have some very difficult people to deal with who drain away a lot of time and energy and joy.

In a piece of exquisite timing, my landlord has sold my house, so I also need to find somewhere new to live during by the end of May, and move.

I need to allocate my precious and very small amounts of free time to things that will help de-stress, and putting pressure on myself to update a blog is not helpful.

Thanks for reading, and please come back when I come back!




14 March 2011

Yesterday I made two plumcakes – one to keep and one to share (which I think is always the best strategy with cakes, especially if your household is not large or greedy enough to eat a large cake before it goes stale or mouldy).

I call this recipe a plum shortcake, though I’m not sure that it’s a true shortcake. It’s adapted from this recipe for a rhubarb cake, which I also make often and enjoy. The great thing about both these recipes is that they look spectacular but take very little effort to make.

:: ingredients

175g butter, softened
3 eggs, separated
150g and 120g caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
3 tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla essence
4-5 plums, each cut into 8 wedges

Two circular baking trays or pizza trays, lined with baking parchment (I use the bottoms of spring form cake tins)

Preheat the oven to 180C
Use a wooden spoon to beat together the butter, 150g sugar, vanilla and egg yolks, until soft and fluffy.
Add the flour and milk and beat with a wooden spoon until a dough forms (add a bit more flour if it’s sticky).
Divide the dough in half. Flour your hands, and spread and push each lump of dough on the lined tray until it’s roughly circular and about 1 – 1.5cm thick.
Arrange the plum slices on top of the dough.

In a clean bowl and with a clean whisk or handmixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and then beat in the 120g of sugar until the mixture is a stiff and glossy meringue.  Spread half the meringue over each plum-topped base. Don’t worry if the plums poke through in places.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the meringue is pale brown and a little bit cracked.

Eat hot or cold.

Will keep in the fridge for a week, though the meringue will lose its crispness after a day or so.