My last 7 days have been filled with people, and visits, and tales, and outings, and guests, and shopping, and planting and baking baking baking.
In fact, the last few days have felt much like this cake looks.
Baking, and cooking in general, are things that I love and come naturally to me. So, throwing baking and making into my day is quick and a fun highlight for me.
I whip up pastries on a whim quite often, as I love to have something totally homemade when folks stop by. Such was the case with this cake. I call it, the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale cake.
Well, it seems to me, just the cake the witch would bake up to lure curious children into her gingerbread cottage. (video at the end)
I LOVE the Hanzel and Gretel version with Cloris Leachman.
Especially the cake luring in scene.
I should say that, that cake was the lovely end to a string of guests this week.
It actually began with pies...
Actually, it began with one blueberry pie for Mister Lovee. He brought home oodles of blueberries in hopes that I would bake him up something good...
I used this recipe for the filling, and it was beyond excellent. If you feel like you have too much dry ingredient, don't worry, you don't. Just pop it all in your pie shell. It will all come together beautifully.
I used my go to crust recipe, which I created after trying lots of recipes that failed. I now use this recipe below for all of my pie baking. It is lovely supple glorious dough. It makes enough dough for two single crust pies or one double crust pie.
Sorry about the bad looking handwriting, but my right hand and wrist are still a bit swollen and very sore from my gardening shenanigans.
(give it 60 seconds to open)
Also, a tip for making lattice tops can be found here...
It was sooooooo goood!
My new fave dessert I think.
Not too sweet (which makes it a fave), with burst in your mouth berries.
I also took out over a dozen monster aloes this week, from a completely over grown area. I then relocated them to another part of the garden.
Honestly, this was the most difficult job I have ever done in my life.
You can see the root ball system in the photo below in the back left.
There were 3 of those root balls.
Mister Lovee jokingly thinks I am hiring men to do the work behind his back.
I am not.
I am trying to get all the hard work done before the heat of summer comes along, when it simply won't be possible. It will be too hot and the dirt will be too hard and dry.
While I work...
Gentle poppies keep coming to life....
Nothing like the unfurling of a paper thin poppy, me thinks.
Before I took out the aloes (in between baking and guests), I decided that a very aggressive desert broom had to be pulled out of a crucial garden spot. That is, if we wanted to give a home to a lucky 25 cent citrus tree.
We have ever so many desert brooms.
Most people hate them. With their allergy gobs of fuzz and such.
I quite like them, and throw a fit when one needs to be cut down.
But, after dealing with this monster below, I sort of don't know how I feel.
It was a huge bush/tree thing.
It took me two days to get him out, and still the root was too deep, so Mister helped me cut it about 5 feet down.
Of course, the babes want to be on top of me while I am working. If I ignore them, they take up wrestling for a while. Yay for wrestling ;)
To this mix, I threw in some bread baking.
As I wanted to send my parents away with fresh bread...
I whipped up some Challah...
My tips on working with yeast.......
Make sure your eggs and all items are room temperature.
And, above all, turn your cold bowl upside down and run it under hot water to warm it up before you begin.
I almost always use this recipe for Challah.
A really hearltfelt gift I think...
And then, save one loaf for a treat of blt's on piping hot bread.
While bread bakes, bees find flowers.
It is so good to see the bees.
Oh so good.
The warm air is bewitching with the strong scent of hyacinth flowers (it has been a warm lovely winter here in the 70's most days).
Of course, if you know me, then you know I can't resist doing extra amounts of things when I am already extremely busy.
I work best this way.
(I know what you might be thinking. And, no, I don't take supplements or anything for energy. And, I have been off of caffeine for one year in February. In fact, I feel like I have have to push myself very hard sometimes, to get all the things done that I want to do. I find that, once you get going energy somehow finds you.)
So, I made two more blueberry pies to gift.
Fresh blueberries were available in abundance this week, Mister Lovee says. So he brought a lot home. Perfect for more pies.
This time around, I covered the edges in foil so they would not burn.
I also made pecan pie to gift.
(using this filling recipe and my pie crust recipe above)
But, I forgot to take photos.
Would a pecan color dog work as a stand in for that photo?
Oh oh, one other thing.
I accidentally drizzled in about 1/4 teaspoon of orange extract into the pecan pie filling, which everyone raved about ( I was apprehensive about it before tasting). It added a lightness of flavor that even non-pecan pie lovers liked.
So, it was a happy accident it seems.
And then, the end to all things good.
The Hansel and Gretel Fairytale cake, for a guest, age 6.
I used this recipe for the white cake.
I doubled the recipe so I could make a two layer cake.
Then, I took a tip from one of the comments on the recipe page for doubling the recipe. I used 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 1.5 cups of milk, and simply doubled everything else.
The greatest tip I can give is, only use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar. Then, mix the rest by hand (with a wooden spoon or such). If you get too much air into the batter (by using a mixer) your cake will sink in the middle.
If it does sink, just fill your cake with frosting and raspberry jam between the layers, and use lots of frosting for decorating the top ;)
I was out of butter for making frosting, so I just used powered sugar, a couple pinches of salt, sour cream , 4oz of cream cheese, and a small slurp of vanilla. It was all I had, and it turned out great. You need lots of powered sugar, and not so much sour cream. You can eyeball it as needed. If it is too runny, just add a bit more powdered sugar, and salt to taste. A tiny bit of salt takes the edge off of the sweetness, and enhances overall flavor. (oh, and two drops of red food coloring, to make pink)
And so, a surprise night-time tea party ensued for my two guests...
My guests (a 6 year old and her Oma) loved the cake.
I told the 6 year old that the cake was hers, and she should bite into it.
She was very apprehensive about such an act.
Her Oma convinced her it was a once in a lifetime experience, and they both bit into it together at the count of 3.
It was a wonderful fun time!!
And, I sent the cake home with Miss Littles.
Cake and tea.
Pinkies raised, as reminded by the 6 year old, and clinkety clinking of tea cups...
Then we took a stroll through the night garden, and the 6 year old said...
"This is what is called enchanting..."
And, we all laughed ;)
So, I guess you can say....
My week looked like this cake.
Sprinkly, sweet, sparkly!
With cherries on top.
Ya sure, it isn't all fairy cake and frosting.
But, who can even tell?
I am sure the oven is snoring right now.
Phewey! What a long update there.
I have been watching a hoarders show, so, in the midst of everything, I am purging.
I am inspired.
I am cleaning out closets and cabinets in the evening, while watching the show on Netflix.
Although really, I don't think half of the hoarding business on the show has anything to do with hoarding, but more to do with emotions and feelings and deeper stuff. So, I think I can try to understand how folks can get to that point. Even though it is quite unreal. It is deeper than just pitching stuff. So much deeper it seems?
I feel like I am going insane when my house is a mess and my kitchen is out of order. So, I can see how if your house got crazy out of control, you could just slip into an abyss of sorts. Is that it?
Still, it inspires me to get things that are out of order, in order.
Like going through stacks of magazines, etc.
Why do we keep this stuff?
Mister Lovee won't let me get rid of some of it, so, I will have to sneak it ;)
My fave part begins at the 5:00 mark, but the extra wonderful part with cakes and such begins at the 8:50 mark.