This is entry number 9, we apologies for a missed week we blame life! For the love of food is back and we hope this makes up for my procrastination.
Growing up in the Rhondda during the sixties was like living with an extended family. Everyone knows everyone and we are all interested to find out what has recently happened in the village (commonly known as finding out the gossip).
It wasn’t uncommon to see net curtains twitching at all times of the day and night with either the grandmother or mother of the house trying to keep up to date with events which could quickly be relayed back to the general populace – god help anyone who was doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
You could even say that the neighbourhood watch was born in the Rhondda with no subject being too hot to handle!!
It was this extended family approach which meant that anytime you ended up celebrating a special occasion it was rarely a small or quiet affair so it was not surprising that when I was celebrating a Birthday when we lived in the Hotel it was quite a notable event.
It was usually held in the dining room on the right hand side when you walked into the hotel. My mum would lay out a huge spread of finger food. Things I liked included as mentioned previously cheese, crisps, pickles and salmon and cucumber open rolls. Mam also included sausage rolls, pasties, cakes etc and there was always loads of it!
When we were younger we would mainly stay in that room and play games like pass the parcel and musical chairs and although there would be a lot of us (we usually invited the whole school in primary) we could be controlled.
This wasn’t so much the case as I got older while I was attending junior school. The parties at this stage were more fractious! One of the games that could cause this was hide a seek – can you imagine it and yes friends would hide in odd places and get stuck. The toilet was a good example of this as the door when closed had a heavy spring which was difficult for a child to push. My mum used to keep it open with a wedge but apparently this was removed in a bid to stay hidden.
Needless to say the game would go on forever and in the end would be quite fraught as we tried to round up the masses!! In some cases some tears could be shed.
Sometimes we would be allowed in the back lounge and I would put on music so we could dance to and all was fine until someone asked if I knew how to pull a pint. Well actually I did and of course I had to demonstrate what I didn’t expect was for my guests to start drinking it. You guessed it we had a partiful of staggering children and my parents left to explain that their daughter had given them alcohol and that they maybe a little tipsy. I am sure that the parents saw the funny side of it but my parents were mortified! Needless to say that was the end of my big parties!
This Weeks Recipe is birthday and beer related! Chocolate Beer Cake
175g Self-Raising Flour
¼ Level Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Level Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
275g Dark Brown Soft Sugar
110g Spreadable Butter
2 Large Eggs, Beaten
50g Cocoa Powder, Sifted
200ml Sweet Stout
For the Icing:
110g Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken up
2 Tablespoons Sweet Stout
50g Spreadable Butter
110g Icing Sugar, Sifted
25g Walnut Pieces, Finely Chopped
8 Walnut Halves
Additional: Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4
You will need 2 Delia Online 20cm Loose-based Round Sponge tins, greased with base liners plus two wire cooling trays
All you do is sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a roomy mixing bowl, lifting the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down.
Then simply add all the other ingredients, except the stout. Now, using an electric hand whisk, combine them for about one minute until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Finally stir in the stout, a little at a time, until it’s all incorporated. Next divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and bake near the centre of the oven for about 30–35 minutes.
They are cooked when you press lightly with your little finger and the centre springs back. Then remove them from the oven and after about 30 seconds loosen the edges by sliding a palette knife all round then turn them out onto a wire cooling tray. Carefully peel back the lining by gently pulling it back. Now lightly place the other cooling tray on top and just flip them over so that the tops are facing upwards (this is to prevent them sticking to the cooling tray).
To make the icing: Melt the broken chocolate with the stout in a bowl set over a pan containing 5cm of barely simmering water, without the bowl touching the water. When it’s melted (5–10 minutes) take it off the heat. Beat in the butter and leave it to cool a little before beating in the icing sugar with an electric hand whisk.
Now transfer a third of the icing to a separate bowl and stir the chopped walnuts into that. After the icings have cooled to a spreadable consistency, sandwich the cake with the walnut icing, then spread the remaining two thirds of the icing on the top of the cake, using a palette knife.
Finally decorate with a circle of walnut halves. Leave the icing to set completely before storing in an airtight tin.