No. I don't mean it is baking hot today, though it's not cold either; I mean I have spent the day, well the afternoon anyway, in the kitchen doing a bit of baking. What with my diabetes, and both of us watching our weight a bit, I don't do a lot of baking these days, and I sort of miss it. So it nice to have an excuse to get the recipe book out again. This coming Sunday it is my turn to do church coffee/tea duty and it has become a habit for me to take in some home-baked cake. There are only around 30-40 in the congregation so it is not a great chore, and it gives me a reason to make a batch or two, and then I can keep back just a few for us and take the rest in on Sunday. If I make a whole batch for us I nearly always end up throwing the last ones away. It was different when we had a hoard of boys in the house with hollow legs!
Anyway I was fortunate enough to be in our Iceland store when they had a few cooking apples on the shelf. They come in early on a Tuesday morning and have usually sold out by mid-morning, so I get them when I can. So my first job was to make a mix of my special pastry and put it to rest in the fridge while I prepared the apples. We both really like apple pie and that will be a treat for us for a few days to come. Then I used the family tried and tested recipe for 'Maids of Honour'. Mum always said these were cakes for the men, but I know a good few ladies who enjoy them as well. I also made a dozen mincepies. I am already getting orders for them at Christmas so this was a practice run. Last year I made about fifty dozen, which were mostly sold for the church funds and our local village charity, but I was a bit taken back when I packed the last few up to deliver and found they had gone soft underneath. Fortunately I had spares to replace them with for my orders, and we heated up the 'soggy' ones and ate them with custard on! This has never happened before, and in England I have kept them right up until Easter without even refrigerating them. I think it is down to one of two things. a). I can't buy hard block margarine here, and the soft variety is not good for pastry, or b). to cut costs they have reduced the fruit in the mincemeat and added more liquid, so the tablespoon of brandy I add to each jar to 'give it a lift' is a drop too far! So today I have made a few changes and I will store some of the pies away for a few weeks to test my theory. And finally I made a Paradise cake which is a recipe from a very old Jimmy Young cookbook. It is basically a swiss roll tray lined with pastry, spread with jam and filled with a cake mix that is mostly dried fruit, plus ground almonds, rice flour, and a little butter and sugar. So my one mix of pastry did me quite well, and the kitchen smells yummy!
It was a good day to be indoors as, although it started off quite sunny, the clouds have been gathering all day, and this afternoon there was lightening all around and deep rumbles of thunder. It hasn't rained here yet but I am sure it is pouring down on the mountains by Mojacar. The dark sky makes a good back drop to the orange trees doesn't it. Even as I write this the sun has broken through again. This is the sky from my craft-room window now, but it is still pretty black to the right of here. It probably means we won't get any TV reception tonight. The signal doesn't travel through rain very well! At least we won't need to get the hose pipe out. Because all our plants are pots and tubs they need watering for most of the year unless we have rain.