Baking and Fund-raising – Natural Partners

Pic of home-made millionaire's shortbread

Ah the joys of baking sweet stuff; and baking for a good cause too.

My sisters, mother and I love baking so we’re in the process of getting ready for a coffee morning on 2 November.

It’s a fund-raising event for Motor Neurone Disease, as last year my aunt was diagnosed with this awful illness. MND is name for a group of illnesses which cause damage to the nerves called the motor neurones, the nerves that carry messages to the muscles. It can result in difficulties with walking, lifting your arms, chewing or swallowing. It’s also a progressive condition which means the damage gets worse in time and there is no cure at present.

The money we raise will go towards important research. There is awful lot of important medical research which is funded through charity and people’s donations to a cause; choosing between so many valid causes can be difficult, but obviously this is a personal one for my family and I. If anyone reading this does feel moved to contribute, there’s a link to my sister’s Just Giving Page here. (And thank you ever so much in advance.)

Anyway, for our baking morning I’m planning to make one of Nigella Lawson’s chocolate cakes. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free, which makes it sound terribly earnest and “a good for you kind of thing”, but it is absolutely delicious because it’s so chocolate-y and moist. I’ve adapted it slightly according to my own baking experiments.

I’m also planning some millionaire’s shortbread with a marbled chocolate topping as most folks love the combination of buttery shortbread, super sweet caramel and the crisp chocolate topping. I was toying with the idea of coconut ice too – retro but pretty, hmm?

 

Nigella Lawson’s Dairy and Gluten-free Chocolate Cake

  • 50g good quality cocoa powder (Green & Black’s make a nice one)
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 3 large, free-range eggs
  • 150ml olive oil (the mild stuff, not the extra virgin kind)
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 1tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 2tsp vanilla extract or paste

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C. Grease and line a loose-bottomed square 20cm cake tin.

Mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Leave to cool.

Using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together with the vanilla extract for three or four minutes until you have a smooth, pale-yellow coloured mix.

Add the eggs and whisk in one by one. Add the cocoa and water and the ground almonds and mix thoroughly (using a wooden spoon to keep the volume the eggs have added). Add the baking powder and mix in.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. If you stick in a skewer or a knife it should come out with a few crumbs sticking to it. Turn out, leave to cool and cut into squares. You can serve as a cake  dusted with icing sugar just before serving, or serve warmed with a spoonful of sweetened cream or ice-cream.

 

 

 

The Muse, London Marathon et al

We seek her here, we seek her there – we seek that damned muse everywhere…

Blasted muse wasn’t here either, despite lovely setting!

Nope, writing inspiration is still in short supply (oh the horrors of the blank white page). I thought about blogging a steak pie recipe – bear with me here, oh dear few and loyal readers – in that I  genuinely made up the recipe, it did look delicious and it is a pretty easy way to fill your home with delicious aromas and contented men.

[Yup, you make this and all of a sudden, open your front door and there are queues of handsome, eligible gentlemen ready to eat your wares, compliment your cookery skills and sigh in satisfaction. It’s all gone a bit Stepford Wives.]

My excuse is that I’ve been blogging for Social Media Week Glasgow this week – attending events and writing up reports afterwards. All great fun and plenty of learning. I include links to my reviews of the events I attended – mindfulness & social media and NHS collaboration through social media.

Still searching for writing topics here though… An email popped into my inbox this week. Way back in the beginnings of 2011, I thought running a marathon might be… well, not fun, but perhaps a achievement to aim for so I said, ‘yes, put my name in for the 2013 London marathon‘.

Easy to make these promises when the future looks miles away, hmm? And lo, I get an email this week from the charity I work for saying, hey, we’ve got two places for you and friend for the 2013 London marathon.

Eeks. My first thought – ‘oh ho, training for the marathon may well guarantee wedding dress size smaller thing, hmm?’ Second thought – ‘lordy, I will have material to blog about forever more. I can talk about training, I can share my pain, I can post about the miles I’m clocking up each week, I can talk about what you eat for running long distances and generally become a complete running bore’. Happy days!

Then a friend made a valid point. Running the London marathon for charity three weeks before I get married has a few risks. Time, for example. Possible injury which rules me out of walking down the aisle as another. And also, it would mean that I’d be approaching the same people for sponsorship who would be attending my wedding meaning that they would inevitably lose patience splashing out on moi.

So, the marathon is a no-no (feel free to approach me if you would like to run on behalf of Carers Trust, though). And the ease of thinking up blog topics forever more ruled out too, bah.

Finally, I’d like to direct your attention to Patrick – now he is a gent imbibed with mucho talent. He takes great pics, he and his friends go for great adventures and then he writes it all up in a cool way and he is ARTISTIC, blast him!