Food: Baking for the Mr’s arrival home

As Tom was coming back from his yearly stint working at a summer camp in America, I needed to give him a proper Welsh welcome home, and so I did 😉

in between working long ass shifts, the three days before he flew back, I wanted to make three things for his arrival, so I had to get organised. I wanted to make:

  • A Welshcake cheesecake,
  • Triple choc chip cookies, and…
  • Something for the first dinner back

For the cheesecake, I wanted to make truffles to adorn it, so first I infused double cream with some Welshcakes ( I had bought these, but next time I’ll probably make them myself) and the flavours of a welshcake, so some mixed spice went in there, too

After it had simmered and infused I strained it and combined with some of Willes 100% cacao and a good 80% Venezuelan dark chocolate to make the ganache. Pour and leave to set in a bowl.

-Next day-

I then rolled the ganache into bowls with a melon baller (It really works!) and laid them on a tray lined with baking silicone, (although baking parchment would also work).

Leave to set for a few hours, I left it overnight, then they will be ready to enrobe.

When fully set, I tempered a further 2 bars of 80% Venezuelan. Now, I usually use the method where you add in some of the chopped chocolate into the melted chocolate, but since I had recently bought a proper marble slab, I wanted to do it the traditional way.

coat the truffle balls, shake off the excess and leave to set on a tray.

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Now, for the cheesecake.

Now, I know A LOT of people are scared by the words ‘Baked Cheesecake’ but my homegrown method of ‘3,3,1’ seems to work, and I make a lot of cheesecakes 😉

Basically it’s 3 eggs, 3 packets of cream cheese and 1 tub of sour cream,  then your flavours accordingly – obviously don’t take the piss with the amount of liquid, but it should work.

For this one, coming home to Wales I wanted to make something very, well, WELSH – and nothing is Welsh’er than a Welshcake.

After I had made the biscuit base of crushed digestives and butter, and left to set int the fridge for 3 hours was time to make the batter.

To my usual mix i added a cupful of raisins soaked overnight in a mixture of black tea, and Pedro Ximénez sherry, lots of mixed spice, a crumbled packet of Welshcakes and a decent grating of nutmeg. Then put it into a preheated oven at 160c (fan) for 40-45 mins, then on 140 for 20 mins or so.

Checking halfway through it really seemed like it wasn’t going to work, as the filling was still uncooked in the centre. But I persevered and it did, Yipee!

After taking out and letting to cool on a rack for a couple of hours, place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, I did it overnight.

The next morning, un sheath your cake from its springform pan. The best way, Queen Nigella taught me, is to place it on top of a large can or something, unclip and slowly slide down. This is when you get the full moment of truth if things have worked, or not.

To place on top of the cake I put my now finished truffles and macerated, sliced strawberries, made with a splash of Żubrówka, mmm!

I placed it on my Iittala Kastehelmi cake platter, and hand printed a little sign for my Mr Jones.

The cookies I made by using this recipe. Its lush, I’d seriously recommend

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For the savoury bake I made a chicken and bacon pie – of which I’ll be posting about tomorrow for ye

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Design: a day out in Cardiff Bay

Yesterday, I met up with my friend Neil for a jolly in Cardiff, before he goes back to work in London. It was such a sunny day that we decided to head to the bay, as did many others…it was quite busy!

Getting there for nearly half day, I was peckish for something. So, I got a few Welsh cakes from Fabulous Welshcakes, who make them, in addition to the traditional kind, in an array of different flavours. I tried the cherry & almond and the white chocolate & cranberry ones, which were lush!  Refuelled, we decided to go for a walk around the bay, stopping by the Norwegian Church and The Senedd or (The National Assembly Building). Opened on St David’s day, 2006 and designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, it’s a building I’ve admired for years, but I had never actually been in. It was even built with help from Arup and Skanska – so its Scandi credentials were already appealing to me!

The interior is stunning, the ceiling clad in strips of Western Red Cedar sourced from Canada, is an amazing sight to see; while the floors are tiled with a beautiful Welsh slate, sourced from a quarry  in Blaenau-Ffestiniog. Then there’s the Siambr itself, with its ceiling partly made from glass, so that the public can view the Assembly processions below, a tip they’ve probably taken from the dome of the Reichstag, in Berlin. In the foyer (the Cwrt), and in the Oriel (gallery) it was filled with nothing other than some Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen furniture – Jacobsen’s Series 7 and Swan chairs were selected for the building, which I, of course, loved! It was funny telling Neil, how much they were each and seeing his face drop.

After our visit to the Senedd, we carried on walking around the bay, seeing a Tall ships youth trust ship set off. With all this walking, we had worked up quite an appetite, so we pondered where to go for food. Neil fancied fish & chips, so we went to Top Gun Fish & Chip Bar. ‘Award winning’ apparently, but I don’t know what award, as they were quite crap, being honest. £7-odd for cod (which was soggy, and greasy as), chips (which had been very obviously sitting under the heater for a while) and a drink, hmm. They don’t even touch on my local fish & chip shop for quality (Bonymaen Represent 😉 ).Plus I’m not a fan of their very sexist interior, popping back into the toilet to wash my now grease soaked hands, on the wall of the loo were some framed ‘nostalgic’ cartoon postcards. This one left me feeling very angry indeed. Some causual misogyny with my cod? I think not! Hmm

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Left feeling disappointed (and robbed!), we decided to head back into Cardiff central, not before stopping at Nata & Co’s new bakery in the bay for something to cheer me up. I just had to have one of their pastel de natas. Creamy, sweet and rich custard surrounded by crispy, buttery pastry. A perfect combo, and only for £1!.

A delicious end to a great day out.