Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Camberwell Tea (gin)

Saturday saw the resurgence of the celebrated Camberwell Ladies Institute of Tea, hosted at the lovely Hannah Osborne's flat overlooking the green. Such genteel surroundings for what would inevitably descend into a gin-soaked cake binge. And so it was, as 6 full hours after arriving, decked out in floral frocks and high hopes, we rolled out of Hannah's flat and onto the bus, cheeky bottle of wine in hand (sorry Boris), to hit the pub in epic fashion.

That's not to say that we didn't dutifully and enthusiastically observe the twin pillars of tea-party hosting: tea, and indeed cake. I can say with complete honesty that I had a lovely cup of earl grey before proceeding to slosh 14 bottles of cava down my throat. There was coffee too! Oh yes! However it is with shame in my heart that I admit to you that we splashed rum into our coffee, just in case it sobered us up too much...

But the cake! Oh what cake there was! From delicate caramel tartlets from Polly Button, to rich and chewy brownies from Ceilidh, a splendid angel's food cake in the shape of a butterfly, magnificent cinnamon buns and my own chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes. We also enjoyed a gin (yes GIN) and white chocolate cake, as it seems we are incapable of digesting anything that hasn't first been soaked in booze.

But not upon cake alone did we feast, oh no, for there were many and varied savoury delights for us to stuff ourselves with. Bruschetta,  tiny elegant sandwiches, baby sausages in honey and mustard, not one but two pasta salads, cheese scones and itsy-bitsy cheese and spring onion tarts. The weaker amongst us feared there would be no space for cake, but the more hardy struggled on, realising that this was a marathon not a sprint.

My cupcakes are from a recipe in Gizzi's Kitchen Magic and worked out very well, even if I do say so myself. I substituted the chopped Reese's Pieces for Reese's peanut butter chips, and placed a slice of peanut butter KitKat chunky on the top. These were imported from BULGARIA by my lovely friend Jess, as Nestle tragically stopped producing the bars in the UK the day after my birthday. What a gift Nestle, thanks very much. They were a bit on the large size as I made 12 instead of the recommended 18, so if you try them out perhaps you should stick to making 18 slightly smaller ones.

On a far less successful note, I attempted a hazelnut and passion fruit pavlova, because everyone always says that pavlovas are sooo easy to make and sooo forgiving if you cock them up, and they just look sooo spectacular, it really is worth making one.

Well, the people who said that are liars. My pavlova was an absolute disaster. I don't know why, again I followed all of the instructions to the letter, but still it ended up gungy and flaky and AWFUL. I can probably attribute the failure to two things; my eggs were not fresh enough and I am not very good at things like this. I should have expected calamity when I attempted a desert named after a ballerina, for grace and finesse are not my watch words in this life. I tried to claw victory back from the jaws of defeat by turning my failed pavlova into an Eton mess, as that's what people always tell you to do. Sadly mine ended up looking like a bowl of cold sick. But frankly everyone was far too drunk to notice.
Peanut Butter Cupcakes.
170g softened butter
170g golden caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs
170g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
handful Reese's peanut butter chips/ 6 Reese's cups, chopped.

200g peanut butter
170g icing sugar
150ml full fat cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 170C/ gas 3. Put 18 cupcake cases in the holes of two muffin tins. Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for five minutes or until pale and creamy. Whisk in the eggs one by one until combined. You may find that the mixture curdles a little, but it should come back together when you add the flour.
Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa, and stir in. Loosen the mixture with 3 tablespoons of milk and the vanilla extract. The batter should fall off the spoon easily; if you think it's too thick, add another tablespoon of milk. Stir in the peanut butter chips/ Reese's peanut butter cups.
Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check that they are done by sliding a skewer into a cake; if it comes out clean, it's done.
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely before icing.
To make the peanut butter frosting, beat together the peanut butter, icing sugar and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Use either a knife or a piping bag to ice the cakes. Top with chopped Reese's peanut cups.

From Gizzi's Kitchen Magic.

No comments:

Post a Comment