So I started my new nursery job yesterday. I've just had two whole days of 'induction,' which is basically a lot of talking about fire drills, and where the brooms and spades are kept and so on. Necessary, but brain-frizzling, especially when I haven't really had to concentrate on anything more onerous than the nutritional information on the back of a Rafferty's baby food packet for about two years.
Anyway, I searched high and low on my computer for an appropriate native plant picture but couldn't find one I was happy with. I did, however, find pictures of the cupcakes I made the other day, so I'll tell you about that instead.
[Alternative post titles considered: Opinions on Red Velvet Cake or Why You Should Always Check the Pantry for Ingredients Before You Begin]
Over the weekend I decided that it was high time I made a Red Velvet Cake (read the bit about the historical indicator reaction between cocoa and vinegar making the cake red coloured; how cool is that?!) Yes, I got the idea from Masterchef, I admit it. I tend to make half recipes of baked items these days, since I'm the one who tends to eat it all I figure it helps me eat a little less sugary-carby goodness (actually, what really happens is that I eat it at the same rate I usually do but it's gone in half the time, leaving me with an earlier opportunity to make something else.)
Anyway, I found a recipe (there are dozens so I won't link one). The funkiest ingredient was buttermilk, but that's OK because I happened to find powdered buttermilk in a healthfood shop a while ago and it's wonderful as a pantry backup item since buttermilk is not something I usually buy. I got started: butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, red food colouring, bicarb...plain flour. Plain flour? Oh, bugger, no plain flour. Oh well, I'll just use self-raising flour. It's only a half recipe after all.
I pop it in the greased tin, there's plenty of room (what's that line? "Never assume anything. It makes an Ass out of U and Me.") Into the oven. Walk away.
Some time later I can smell a distinct burning scent, wafting it's way through the living room. I glance over at the oven. Cake looks OK, nicely risen to the top of the tin, still 10 minutes left on the timer. But a few minutes later this burning smell is increasing and odious. So I look again, thinking there must be some crumbs stuck to the oven element. And indeed there is something stuck to the element, but it is not crumbs, it is half a Red Velvet Cake, which has overflowed the tin and dripped down over all the wire racks and the oven base.
It seems that bicarb soda and SR flour make a cake rise even more than I'd imagined, and wasn't it fun cleaning that lot up out of the oven?! Half the cake was actually edible and we ate it, but I didn't enjoy it. I wasn't sure if I was just imagining it or not, but I thought I could taste just a hint of the bitter extra bicarbonate.
So I wasn't satisfied. A few days later I wanted to try again, and this time with plain flour, and I thought I might make cupcakes so I could fit them into my lunch box easily (yes, I have to take a lunch box to work now.) I followed the recipe carefully, but left out the food colouring since it does nothing for the taste. I made sure to only half fill the patty pans, since I wasn't sure how much the mixture would rise if one didn't overdo the rising agents.
And they came out cute and rounded.
And they're quite nice, but to be perfectly honest - and I'm sorry to all Red Velvet aficionados - I'd rather have a little chocolate mud cake any day. The RV cake is lovely and moist, and has a good texture, but I found it a little insipid and didn't have much depth of flavour really.
However, as Matt Preston would say, there is a hero in this dish. D had been out to a friend's birthday the night before and when he was telling me what they'd ate I mostly heard 'meat meat meat beans cupcakes peanut butter icing.' What what what? Peanut butter icing? How have I never heard of this before? Cakes, biscuits, ice creams, satay sauce yes, but icing? Must. Make. Peanutbuttericing.
I tried it out: beating together about a tablespoon of margarine and the same of smooth peanut butter, then beating in about a cup of sifted icing sugar, then adding a dash of milk to get it to a better consistency (no recipe, I made it up) and Wonderment! The stuff is A.Maz.Ing.
Did I mention it was about midnight at this point and I supposed to be at my new job at 8:45am the next morning? Since it was so late, I iced a single -still warm -cupcake, scoffed it, then did my teeth and went to bed. The icing I'll make again, but I'm not so sure about the red velvet cake.
The next morning I iced a few more of the cupcakes and took one to work with me (in my pink lunchbox) to eat with my coffee at morning tea (morning tea? More wonderment! I have never had a job which let me have a sit-down morning tea before.) The job, meanwhile, I think will be good once I get my head around everything. The site is huge, and there are hundreds and hundreds of plants for me to learn about and I only know about 50 of them so far, but so many beautiful green things around me and a lovely setting. It will be a lot of work, but worth it.