Holiday Baking: Rainbow III & Cornish Cream Tea

Our holiday in Cornwall brought us many joys, one of which was the opportunity to fatten everyone up with some baked goods.  Obviously, my beloved Kitchen Aid made the journey with us, and earned its place on the counter of our rented home for the week.

I realise there’s a risk that I’m overdoing the posts on Rainbow Cake but I haven’t finished perfecting it, so buckle up for the third attempt…

A friend quite rightly pointed out that there was a flaw in Rainbow I and Rainbow II.  Specifically, they weren’t strictly rainbows; they lacked a seventh colour.  Challenge accepted.  So, for Rainbow III, in stepped a fifth egg and some gel colour jiggery-pokery.  In layman’s terms, my baking genius friend Angharad and I boosted the Victoria sponge mix by an egg and increased the butter, sugar and flour to match, so that there was more mixture with which to make the seven layers.  To get a noticeable distinction between the indigo and violet layers, we boosted the blue elements of one and the red elements of the other and added a little cocoa to get a better depth of colour.

While I faffed around with the colours, Angharad made the most perfect baking paper skirts I’ve ever seen, greased and lined the tins, carefully spread the mix into them and baked them in batches, making sure each was baked well (which was a HUGE challenge in an unfamiliar oven, without an oven thermometer) before hoiking them out to cool.  She also exercised amazing self-restraint when she caught a tin on the oven as it came out, and watched the green layer tumble onto the oven lid.  In this situation, I would definitely have lost my cool and binned it, but not this baker.  With the help of a palette knife, a fish slice and a plate proffered by another foodie friend Chris, she rescued Mr Green and he lived to take his rightful place in the finished cake.  And thus, a very happy birthday girl cut into her (complete and) celebratory cake.

On our final full day in Cornwall, we realised that the clotted cream we had enthusiastically procured on day one was languishing unloved in the fridge, so rather than buying less-than-fresh local scones, we decided to make them ourselves.  Using a very simple recipe of 225g self-raising flour, pinch of salt, 55g butter, 25g sugar and 150ml milk (plus egg for glaze), we knocked up two batches and used a juice tumbler as a makeshift cutter.  It wasn’t absolutely ideal as it squished the edges, preventing a pleasing straight rise but they tasted delicious fresh from the oven with clotted cream and raspberry jam.

Fish of Joy, French Cricket & Who’s in the Hat?

It’s rare that you come to the end of a holiday and genuinely feel that you got it all right.  It helps, of course, that whoever is in charge of weather-based karma decided that we’d earned seven days of The Good Stuff.  But we also made some first class decisions.

Special mention has to go to the delicious goodies we ordered from The Handpicked Foodstore (a whole side of smoked salmon and two pots each of smoked salmon paté and smoked mackerel paté), which made for a fabulously decadent breakfast and a few highly tasty lunches / snacks.  Yum.

 

Having fuelled ourselves with such an incredible breakfast, we hot-footed down to the beach to make the most of the sunshine.  After a slice of left-over birthday cake (more on that later), the pleasing sight of two usually desk-bound Londoners conquering the waves with the help of body-boards, and some slightly disappointing sandcastle/sandpenguin attempts, we broke open the cheapo cricket set and played French Cricket on the sand.  It’s no secret that my interests are far more inclined towards making (and eating) baked goods than partaking in sporting endeavours, but this was smashing giggly fun, regardless of my sporting ineptitude.  (Sadly, there’s no photographic evidence of the cricket, but I rather enjoy this shot of the pre-cricket gathering, and the following one of the body-boarders.)

 

 

Though our calorie intake was fairly extreme throughout our seven-day Cornish jaunt, I like to think we burned a handful of these with some breathtaking belly laughs, regularly resulting in tears and substantial abdominal pain.  Recounting these moments here would only result in the gross overuse of the line “I guess you had to be there”, so I shan’t even try, but many of them popped up in the unlikely setting of the game “Who’s in the Hat?”.  If you aren’t familiar, this is a team game in which each player writes famous names on 3-5 small pieces of paper and throws them in the hat, then takes it in turns to help their teammates guess as many as they can in a minute.  You go through the entire hat’s worth of names three times in total: in the first round you can describe or act as much as necessary; in the second, you may use only three words; in the third, you may only mime.  It turns out that I’m unexpectedly good at this game and I found my friends clamouring to be on my team – as my previous statement regarding my sporting prowess will attest, this was a novel experience!

Breakfast canapés, sandy walks & five o’clock fizz

Holidays are good for the soul. Fact.

I write this post from a beautiful house on the side of a Cornish cliff, overlooking a beach, surrounded by good friends. Foodie friends, to boot. Disclaimer: My holiday lexicon is limited at best, so I hope you’ll embrace the simplicity of this particular post.

Newly created holiday rituals include breakfast canapés (the piece of toast that keeps one going until everyone in the house is awake and ready for proper breakfast), four o’clock gin and five o’clock fizz, followed by a delicious dinner of some description, cooked by one of the many foodies in the house and consumed in view of a stunning sunset over the sea.

One particularly memorable dinner was the result of an afternoon fishing trip, which yielded more than 50 fresh mackerel. After a reasonably gruesome but impressive gutting process, they were gently barbecued and served with sautéed new potatoes, salad and horseradish crème fraîche. Mm-mm-mmm.

With three birthdays this week there is cake aplenty, but I’ll save the baking commentary for a later post. For the time being, I’m just going to be smug about the wonderful sandy beach on which I have walked barefoot every day.