In this, my birthday week, it seems only fair to share a celebration cake recipe so rich that you should have it no more than once a year. Indeed, this recipe should really come with a government health warning. I found it when trying to decide on what to take to a Mexican food evening and, no matter how hard I tried to find an alternative, all internet roads led me to this.
So, here goes!
Brace yourselves. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The scariest but probably not-that-surprising truth is that it tastes so delicious that you just want to eat more and more of it. Think White Witch, Turkish Delight and Edmund in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’…
for the cake
6 3/4 ounces plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
8 ounces caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup full-fat milk
For the topping:
2 cups whipped cream
8 ounces caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a cake tin and set aside.
Sift together the plain flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Using a fork, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until fluffy.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.
Add the vanilla extract.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
Pour this into the prepared cake tin.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork.
Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.
For the glaze:
Beat together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the full-fat milk. This makes up the glaze.
Pour the glaze over the cake. This needs to be done slowly and I only used half the creamy mixture because a) I didn’t want my cake to turn into mush and b) all that rich, creamy, sugary mixture? Really?
Refrigerate the cake overnight.
Place the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and whisk together until mixture becomes thick.
Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Looks very milk-y. As ‘tres leches’ means ‘three milks’ that should come as no surprise. When you tuck into a slice of this cake, the sugary, whipped cream shell seems strangely light when contrasted with the rich, unctuous creaminess of the cake within, a creaminess created by steeping the simple sponge in whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk …
You could try to redeem yourselves, and add colour (and something healthy), by serving it with some raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
And there you have it – a celebration cake that really is deliciously moist, creamy and sweet. What more could you ask for from a dessert?
NB Don’t consume before you go for a blood sugar test at your local surgery…
The Lion, Cliftonwood, Bristol : where to go for the perfect Sunday Lunch
by Isabella Morgan
It was one of those rare weekends when we were all together. Me, Gabriel, and our 3 grown-up sons. And I could tell that I wasn’t going to be able to get away with a bag of kettle chips sat in front of the TV on a Saturday night, or a ‘Lovely! Here’s a bacon sandwich for you’ on the Sunday morning to celebrate. Oh no. They’d come home. Together. And they’d come home expecting the red-carpet treatment. Pressure on.
Not that they intended to stay around for long on Saturday evening. No, after filling their boots they all disappeared to the outer reaches of Bristol. Which left us with Sunday.
And so I booked at table at ‘The Lion’, a lovely, pretty little pub in the heart of what has to be the hilliest area in all of hilly Bristol, Cliftonwood. ‘The Lion’ itself is charming, tastefully decorated and strangely homely with enough bunting to satisfy even the most ardent of bunting enthusiasts.
And the welcoming, homely feel just kept on coming at this family-run pub, with an uncle taking our orders, a nephew behind the bar, a mother bringing out the food…
As for the menu, it offered the perfect Sunday lunch. I’d heard this was the case and I wasn’t disappointed. Just take a look –
‘The Lion’ is oft described as a gastro-pub and so I did worry about what that might mean for ‘Sunday lunch’ as we know it. But, with the exception of a little polenta here and a creamy dauphinoise there, the Sunday lunch had not undergone excessive gastro-fication. I just wanted Sunday lunch. A traditional Sunday lunch. And that’s what I got here.
And that’s what we ordered. I had the roast beef and yorkshire pudding and it was heavenly. As for the dauphinoise potatoes, they added a good, creamy taste to the meal and worked perfectly, making me think that perhaps we should make them next time we make our own Sunday roast.
We drank, we ate, we talked, we laughed.
We drank and laughed. And ate some more…
As for the puddings. Knickerbocker Glory. What can I say? Even the name’s great. And there was custard with the bakewell! We were all in Sunday lunch heaven.
As we left, looking forward, sort of, to a long walk back across Bristol to walk off all the food and drink, I started to plan our return visit.
And now I’m on a mission to tell all my friends about it. There’s nothing better than spreading the word about a great place and ‘The Lion’ really is a great place. Can’t wait to go back.
LINK and FACTFILE
address :19 Church Lane, Bristol, BS8 4TX telephone number:07867 796961
Advisable to book in advance. ‘The Lion’ is not a huge pub but it is very popular.
Get ‘The Lion’ look : make some bunting using multi-coloured tiny polka dot fabric, paint your walls duck egg blue (Fired Earth paint collection), put up some tongue and groove and paint it off-white, put fresh flowers in a jug on the table, put up a large gilt mirror, string fairy lights generously around the room! Ta dah!
Some developments are worth keeping abreast of. Others are not.
Like the ‘selfie’, that worldwide phenomenon made possible by the wonder that is the mobile phone.
What is it with taking photos of yourself? And why is it that, every time I take one, I look like , well, not myself? A selfie with the self taken out. Or, at least, I hope that’s what it shows…
The alternative isn’t worth contemplating. Features out of proportion, double chin, looking older than my years…So, that’s what I sometimes see in the mirror, but I’m sure that I suffer from body dysmorphia! Must be something wrong with the camera on my phone.
So, this morning, imagine the scene…
It’s my birthday,
birthday breakfast in bed
Gabriel spent hours baking, icing and making praline. Contrary to it’s rough finish this cake really did taste heavenly. Hold that thought.
So, cake eaten, time to get dressed. I chose my cotton chambray two-piece, made without a pattern! ( I mention this with pride. You may think ‘It shows’ – and indeed it does – but believe me, this without-a-pattern project is far superior to my other no-pattern attempts…)
As it is my birthday I thought it would be a good idea to record what l look like now for posterity, and possibly for my children (who knows, perhaps one day they will want to look at photos of me when I’m not here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on going anywhere, but birthdays do make me sentimentally morbid, and, when you do go, you don’t usually have a say in it…).
With Gabriel now at work I resorted to ‘the selfie’. Oh dear.
surely my arms aren’t that flappy in real life? Not to mention long?
And my no-pattern two piece, the sewing project of which I’ve been so proud, doesn’t look that good either.
I think of Gabriel’s cake. So, it looked as though a cat had been sick on it ( Gabriel’s words, not mine. I graciously disagreed.) But it did taste so very good. Very, very, very good. Its taste, essence, soul, was beautiful…
See where I’m going with this?
As I look at my selfie, I tell myself the same holds true for me. Probably. Hopefully. Surely my children will remember the inner me, not the superficial, flabby-armed shell.
I manage to delete the worst selfie offenders ( the one here is the best of an ‘I -can’t-bear-to-look-at-them’ bunch). Better to get rid of the evidence, just in case. Hopefully their memories will embellish reality!
And so, the next time I do a selfie I’ll wear long sleeves, slap more make-up on and don sunglasses.
Or, better still, perhaps I’ll get Gabriel to stand quite a distance away from me and take an ‘impression’ shot.
Lesson learnt on my birthday : I am definitely not part of the selfie generation.
I have three weeks before the next Proust book group meeting and I’ve only got to read ‘Un Amour de Swann’, the second part of ‘Du côté de chez Swann’. Plenty of time.
Or so I thought.
Yet I’m not doing it.
I tell myself that it’s because I don’t want to peak too soon. Fat chance…more a case of the more time you have the less you do.
Focus. Focus. I need something to help me focus.
Then it comes to me. Cake! Cake will help. Chocolate cake to be specific. I must make a chocolate cake and fast!
I quickly remember Anna’s Italian chocolate cake recipe. I set about following it like a whirling dervish. 50 minutes later I’m sitting with my feet up, book open at ‘Un Amour de Swann’, a slice of delicious ( and still warm) Italian chocolate cake at my side.
Help or hindrance? I’ll let you know…but it’s a start!
(beats trying to concentrate while listening to the rain hammering down, deluge fashion, on the roof of your tent…)
And if you too need an easy-to-make gooey chocolate cake to help you focus here’s Anna’s recipe –
Anna’s Italian Chocolate Cake
200g dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a pan.
Separate the eggs.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
Mix the egg yolks, sugar and flour together.
Mix all elements together.
Spoon into a cake tin and put in a pre-heated oven (170°c) for 25 minutes.
2 metres cotton chambray ( or some looky-likey hybrid)
1 7 inch zip
There was a time when I would spend all weekend reading the Saturday Guardian. Including the ‘clubs’ review. And yes, even the ‘Experience’ section with the often wacko headline (‘The horse I was riding was mauled by a lion.’)!
Bought Saturday –
Last Saturday however I walked in to my local newsagent only to find that there were none left. Catastrophe! But hardly surprising given that where I live is a middle-class left-wing enclave where we all think we are free and independent thinkers yet are desperate not to put a Birkenstock-clad foot outside the box. We are decaffeinated, allotment-loving, cycling, prosecco-imbibing, organic-cotton wearing Guardian readers.
And so I nearly walked straight back out in search of my essential weekend reading. I mean, I drink coffee (NOT de-caf), don’t have an allotment and usually buy my veg at the supermarket. Reading the Guardian was all I had to keep me acceptable. How was I supposed to swat up on articles ready to discuss them later with our neighbours to prove that I’d bought the right left leaning paper…I mean, how else was I going to be able to fit in?
Besides, I did love spending a few hours reading through the reviews. Never mind not fitting in. Then it occurred to me that I could buy…
The Times pile sat there, enticingly.
I looked around the shop. Good. No one I knew (other than my friend Katie’s son, Jake, on the till) to catch me doing what would have been unthinkable only 5 minutes earlier. And later, I could always ply the neighbours with extra Prosecco! Ah yes, Prosecco. The social lubricant of the Great and the Good of the parish. All I would have to do then is occasionally nod in agreement at their sage words of wisdom. As I handed over the money Jake mumbled something. Usually I would have smiled and nodded in moronic agreement but as I wasn’t feeling my usual moronic self I said, ‘Sorry Jake. Didn’t quite catch that.’ To which came the repeated, and fractionally clearer, ‘I said that’s the second Times I’ve sold this morning.’
Later that night we had the aforementioned neighbours round. The newspaper had been tidied away. Deliberately. But I’d inadvertently left the magazine out, folded open at the style page featuring a cotton chambray two-piece.
I rapidly topped up their glasses before reaching for the magazine and thrusting the image of the cotton chambray two-piece under their noses.
‘What do you think of my next sewing project?’
‘Times, eh?’ said Anna, ignoring my decoy of a question. ‘Really like Caitlin Moran. Great social conscience … Not fussed on Matthew Parish but he writes well although I remember the time when… What do you think of …? Thought I was the only one who…’
As Anna waxed lyrical, it was clear who had bought the other copy of the Times that morning.
And so, what was the moral of that tale?
Well the conclusion could reasonably be made that I am a moron who follows convention. And yes, I can see that. BUT, more importantly, it shows that in our desperate desire to belong we sometimes obscure who we really are.
Oh no! I’m not really going to say ‘…above all to thine own self be true’, am I????
It seems that at the moment I am a glass of Prosecco and a cotton chambray two-piece.
“One cannot think well, love well or sleep well if one has not dined well.” (Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own)
How to create order out of the chaos of existence the Bloomsbury way (or, at least one of them…)
Why not take a leaf out of Mrs Ramsay’s book in Virginia Woolf’s ‘To the Lighthouse‘ and throw a Bloomsbury-inspired dinner party?
Here, Mrs Ramsay attempts to create collective memories by means of the highly crafted moment, or series of moments, that is the dinner party.
The food has been well chosen, the table looks beautiful and the conversation flows due to clever seating arrangements and Mrs Ramsay’s wonderfully generous attention.
A Bloomsbury Dinner Party inspired by Mrs Ramsay in ‘To the Lighthouse’
But why after all should poor Augustus not ask for another plate of soup?
As the text doesn’t specify a type I’ve chosen Nellie Boxall’s ‘Good Soup’. As Virginia’s cook, her recipe seems appropriate.
1/4 small cabbage
1 and 1/2 pounds potatoes
1 pint milk
1 heaped tbs crushed tapioca or sago
salt and pepper
Wash and trim the leek and cabbage, slice the onion. Peel and slice the potatoes. Cook in the butter for several minutes. Add 3-4 pints water and simmer for 1 hour. Season well and put through a blender. Reheat and add the milk. Bring back to the boil. Add the tapioca or sago and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Garnish with a tsp celery seeds or a few leaves of fresh celery.
main course : BOEUF EN DAUBE
It is a French recipe of my grandmother’s.
Boeuf en Daube adapted from an Elizabeth David recipe
For the marinade Olive oil, 1/2 cup 1 onion, sliced 1 carrot, chopped Celery, 1/2 stalk chopped 4 shallots, chopped Red wine, 2/3 cup 3 cloves garlic Parsley, 2 sprigs Herbs (herbes de Provence) to taste Salt and black pepper
For the daube 3 lb beef Carrots, 1/2 lb chopped 3 cloves garlic Herbes de Provence & 1 bay leaf half lb of bacon handful of pitted black olives 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Method 1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and shallots. Sweat for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the remaining marinade ingredients and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Cool, then strain the marinade.
3. Arrange the beef in a casserole and add the carrots, garlic, and herbs..
4. Pour the marinade into the casserole, then add the bacon.
5. Cover the casserole with greaseproof paper and the lid.
6. Cook in an oven (300°F/150°C) for 2 1/2 hours.
7. Add the olives and tomatoes, and cook for an additional 1/2 hour.
8. Remove from the oven. Slice the beef thickly. Cut the bacon into cubes and add to the beef. Serve with a bit of the cooking liquid.
Rose’s arrangement of the grapes and pears, of the horny pink-lined shell, of the bananas, made her think of a trophy fetched from the bottom of the sea, of Neptune’s banquet, of the bunch that hangs with vine leaves over the shoulder of Bacchus (in some picture), among the leopard skins and the torches lolloping red and gold…
As for the beauty of the table and the generous attention lavished on your guests, those details can be all yours!
When Swann likens Odette de Crécy to Botticelli’s Zipporah, in ‘The Events of the Life of Moses’, we know that his love has reached a place from which there is no turning back. He goes so far as to keep a reproduction of the painting on his desk to remind him of her. By focusing on the artistic image Swann’s love develops into a jealous obsession. Ironic, and completely telling, that Odette herself shows an ignorance and insensibility to Botticelli’s work.