• When life gives you limes rearrange the letters until they say smile

    Sorry for not writing for a while – I have been a little preoccupied with a few things.

    I had the idea for this post a while back.  I guess, in a way it follows on from my post, ‘when life gives you lemons’.  I was going to start the post, by launching straight into a discussion about a bake that I did recently, but then I read one of the comments on my blog, which said:

    ‘Hey, you used to write wonderful, but the last several posts have been kinda boring.  I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little out of track!  Come on!’.

    While no-one (I am assuming, of course) likes negative feedback, I can understand where the reader is coming from.  There has been a shift in my writing recently.  I have been focusing more on factual information and less on personal observations.  It was a conscious decision to make the shift, but not necessarily a voluntary one.  Given the reader’s comment, I am going to try to inject my personality back into my posts.

    With a sort of an explanation of my recent change in posting style, let me get back to the content of my proposed post.  I chose the title of this blog for a couple of reason.  Firstly, and following on from  my post ‘when life gives you lemons’, I feel that life has thrown me a few lemons and limes recently, but rather than focusing on the negative, I wanted to turn my metaphorical and literal lemons and limes onto something more positive.  Secondly, I recently did some baking with limes and thought it would be a good idea to write about this bake and link it back to another metaphor.

    As you will remember, I have been trying out a number of vegan bakes of late.  The last time I wrote about them was in my Valentine post.  Since the Valentine post, I have only experimented with one more vegan bake, as well as had a lot of practice with vegan cookies as I now provide one of my customers with a batch of chocolate and a batch of macadamia and white chocolate vegan cookies on a weekly basis.

    A while back, I bought myself an Excalibur dehydrator with the intention of dehydrating a range of fruits to decorate my cakes.   For a long time after my purchase, my dehydrator lay dejected, gathering dust.  Sad for my dejected dehydrator and being reminded of how much my dehydrator cost me, I felt that it was high time that I brought my dehydrator out of hiding and dehydrated a bit of fruit.

    Having dehydrated various fruits (lemons, apples, oranges etc.) on my Diploma in Professional Patisserie, I religiously followed my Ashburton Cookery School recipe for dehydrated fruit – a recipe which involved simmering sliced lemons and limes in a stock syrup until translucent and then dehydrating them in the dehydrator until dry.

    Although I say that I followed the Ashburton Cookery School recipe religiously, this is not exactly correct as I think I inadvertently simmered my fruit in the stock syrup for too long so the fruit was less intact than it should have been.  The lemons and limes are supposed to be simmered until the pith becomes translucent.  Let’s just say that the piths were ‘stubborn little suckers’ and did not want to transform themselves from opaque to translucent.  As a result, and as I mentioned already, the end result was that my limes and lemons were less intact than they should have been.  That being said, the limes fared better than the lemons.

    Although not the perfect, I posted a photo of my dehydrated limes on my Instagram account, @bakebybuffy in which I tagged @excaliburdehydrator.  Their response was ‘Hopefully you’ll share the final product.  Dehydrated citrus + Baked Goods = 😋😍.  My response was that ‘I will definitely post when I make the final product’.  With this promise, I needed to find a bake that I could decorated with dehydrated limes.  Having been inspired with my Valentine bake of a vegan chocolate and raspberry cake, I thought that I could play around with the recipe a bit and make a vegan chocolate and lime cake.  It wasn’t exactly rocket science.  Instead of raspberries in the icing, I added lime juice and adjusted the other icing ingredients accordingly.  I also added some lime zest into the chocolate cake for some extra zing.  Most importantly however, I finished decorating the cakes with a bit of fresh lime zest and a dehydrated lime.  I was quite pleased with the final look, even if I say so myself.

    I tried the cake myself and gave one to my chief taste-tester, Jo (my husband).  I also gave a couple to my vegan/vegetarian neighbours.  By all accounts the end result was a successful bake.   Having promised to share a photo of the final product, I posted my chocolate and lime cakes on Instagram, tagging @excaliburdehydrator.  Their response was ‘Wow!😍 These look incredible!’.

    Happy with the overall result and positive comments about my bake, the title of my post seems quite apt: ‘when life gives you limes rearrange the letters until they say smile or better still, bake them into a chocolate cake and share them with family and friends.

  • What was all the flap(jack) about?

    A couple or so week’s ago I was contacted by a potential customer who had seen my profile on Instagram.  Within a couple of days I had met with the potential customer, put together a price list, shopped for ingredients and completed my first bake.

    The request was relatively straight forward, a batch of brownies and a batch of flapjacks.  Nothing that I hadn’t done before.  However, most of my brownie and flapjack baking was done when I was at Lynwood & Co. and as you will know if you have eaten at Lynwood & Co, both their flapjacks and brownies are exceedingly good.  Despite being exceedingly good and despite being familiar with their recipes, it would not have been right to use these recipes when baking for a potential customer.

    With about 24 hours in which to research, cook and deliver the bake, I did not have time to develop my own recipes from scratch.  So armed with an array of my cookbooks around me on my bed, as well as the Internet to hand, I scoured all the recipes I could to find a suitable flapjack and brownie.  I settled on the one flapjack recipe that I had baked in the last couple of years (other than the Lynwood & Co recipe of course) and a chocolate fudge brownie.

    The bakes were relatively straight forward, especially the flapjacks.  The chocolate fudge brownies were a little more complicated with a few more steps, including hand beating the eggs and sugar into a light, thick and smooth mixture with no sugar granules and melting the chocolate and butter in a Bain-Marie, stirring regularly and preventing the chocolate from getting too hot (simmering water which does not come into contact with the bottom of the bowl in which the chocolate and butter are being melted).

    With an order being placed for 15 brownies and 15 flapjacks, I cut the respective bakes into 15 pieces and delivered them to the potential customer.  As there were no pieces to spare, except for a few brownie crumbs, I was unable to taste my bakes before they were dispatched.

    This is not how I would normally operate.  My usual modus operandi is to allow potential customers to ‘try before they buy’ or at least test the bakes before I deliver them.  However this time, there was no time.

    Although the brownies went down well, the flapjacks needed to be more gooey and the size of the bakes were not quite right for the price that the customer wanted to charge for them.  Taking on board the feedback and rising to the challenge, I tweaked the original flapjack recipe.  I upped the quantity of ingredients as a whole to make larger flapjacks and tripled the amount of syrup to make them more gooey.  I also tried a second flapjack recipe, which professed to be the ‘best ever flapjack’.  Cutting both flapjacks into larger portions and tasting both flapjacks I headed off to drop off my bakes.

    A day later, I received the news that ‘taste-testers’ thought that both flapjacks were delicious but that they preferred the new recipe.  I have to confess that I had initially preferred the adapted original recipe, albeit that I thought it could do with a bit more syrup.  However, when I tried the flapjacks the following day, it was definitely the new recipe that I preferred.

    And with that, I now have a brownie and flapjack recipe under my belt and hopefully a happy customer who I can provide regular bakes to.  As they say, all is well that ends well.