Slowly, I’m learning the names of the many varieties of small birds that feed at my feeders. The bigger birds (Jays, Woodpeckers, Owls and Hawks and Ravens) are easy to identify, but the smaller birds (other than the Hummingbirds) have taken time for me to identify and learn, but now I can differentiate between a Sparrow, Finch, Nuthatcher and Towhee, but I’ve still more to learn.
I’m chuffed because I did quite well with a new baking technique: A mirror glaze with leaf decorations.
Baking a cake to glaze it involves a lot of work. First I bake the cake and then I make the butter icing whilst the cake bakes and cools in the fridge. Once the cake is cooled, I put a good healthy layer of icing between the two halves of the cake and then a very, very thin layer of icing on all the exterior surfaces except the cake bottom. The exterior coating functions to contain the crumbs and provide a perfectly smooth base surface for the glaze.
Then I cool the cake again, this time in the freezer so that when it comes out I can again make the surface even smoother with a hot knife. Whilst it cools, I make the glaze, which is really a second icing. Finally, I mount the cake on a stand on top of a cookie sheet so that I can pour the glaze over the cake and collect the extra glaze. Then comes the moment of truth: the pour.
It’s tricky, if the glaze is too hot, it melts the butter icing on the cake, but if it isn’t warm enough, it won’t flow over the cake to make the glassy mirror finish. And as for making chocolate leaves, I didn’t have the right tool with which to draw them onto parchment paper so I painted real leaves with chocolate, seriously chilled the coated leaves and then peeled the real leaves off the chocolate.
Today I’ll be cooking two dishes for the main course of the dinner party I’m hosting on Sunday night. I’ve invited five friends from the island to dinner. I’ll cook two more dishes tomorrow. The cake is for dessert. Duh.
It’s clear today and tomorrow’s predicted to be nice as well. Besides cooking, I’ve to chop wood so that there’s lots of kindling for Hannah to use while I’m away, and I’m going to uncover my fountain and get it going as I believe the threat of sub-zero temperatures is over.