Place the mince in a large non-stick saucepan with the onion, celery, carrots and garlic.
Dry-fry over a medium heat, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon for 8–10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are beginning to brown.
Add the mushrooms and fry with the mince and vegetables for another 2–3 minutes.
Sprinkle over the flour and stir well, then add the wine, tomatoes and tomato purée, along with 300ml/12fl oz cold water.
Crumble the stock cube over the top then add the caster sugar and herbs.
Season with a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, stir well and bring to a simmer.
When the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 30–40 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. As soon as the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and push it down with a wooden spoon to encourage the strands to separate. It’s important to use lots of water so the spaghetti can move freely without sticking together. Cook for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.
While the spaghetti is cooking, increase the heat under the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and the sauce is rich and thick. Stir regularly and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Drain the spaghetti in a colander and divide between warmed bowls.
Spoon the Bolognese sauce on top, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
oil, for deep frying (I used groundnut, but sunflower or vegetable will do the job)
Roughly chop the prawns, garlic, ginger, onions and chilli and stick the lot in a food processor with the egg, soy and sesame oil. Blitz until you have a paste, adding a little bit of rice flour if your mixture is too sloppy
Spread the mixture generously over the slices of bread, with more in the middle than the edges. Pour you sesame seeds into a bowl big enough to fit in the sliced bread and dunk it, prawn mixture side down, into the seeds to stick
Cut your slices into two or four triangles (again, this depends how big your slices are – gluten free bread tends to come up smaller, so I only cut mine in half)
Heat up the oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan and use a fish slice to carefully place them in the hot oil, sesame side down. Leave them for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, before carefully flipping them over in the oil for another minute or so to brown the other side. Do this in batches, so you don’t overcrowd the pan
If you put too many in at once, your oil will cool and your toast will get soggy. Once it’s nicely golden, fish your prawn toast out of the oil and drain it on kitchen paper, before serving with sweet chilli sauce
When you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet it can sometimes feel like the whole world is conspiring against you.
First we had Christmas to negotiate, and now we’re faced with Pancake Day. While everyone else is tucking into starchy desserts that are slathered in sugar, syrup, chocolate sauce and heavily-processed lemon juice, you’re sat there like some kind of chump with a low-fat yoghurt and a few blueberries.
It doesn’t have to be like this, though. It’s easier than you think to celebrate Shrove Tuesday without hindering your health and fitness plans.
WHAT’S THE SECRET TO MAKING HEALTHY PANCAKES?
DW’s resident health and fitness expert and personal trainer, Carly Tierney, has given us some handy pancake-related nutritional advice, as well as a few sweet and savoury recipes for you to try out on February 9th.
She commented:“Pancakes are a favourite breakfast food [ed note – speaking of breakfast foods,have a read of this], and many varieties provide a number of essential nutrients. However, they can be high in calories from sugar and fat, especially if you eat them at a restaurant or top them with a lot of butter and syrup. You can make more nutritious versions of pancakes at home.
“Plain pancakes can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. You can make them even more nutritious by ditching the unhealthy toppings like cream and jam and instead add chopped fruit, nuts and veggies. Savoury items such as sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and help to strengthen your immune system, and fruits such as bananas, berries and pineapple not only add extra flavour, but are jam packed with vitamins too. You can purée your fruit to create tasty sauces that are perfect to drizzle.
“The way that you cook your pancakes can also make a massive difference to the calorie content and how healthy they are. Try replacing your usual butter or vegetable oil with low-calorie sprays or a small amount of coconut oil and always use oils sparingly.”
HEALTHY PANCAKE RECIPES FOR THOSE WITH A SWEET TOOTH
They say that if it tastes good, then it’s probably bad for you. We’re here to obliterate this myth with our divine, health-conscious sweet pancake recipes.
Mash the banana and crack the eggs into it, stirring until the mixture forms a paste. Add the milk and flour gradually until you have a nice smooth batter (there will be a few lumpy bits because of the banana).
Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan on medium heat and pour in a 2.5-inch wide portion of batter.
Carefully flip the pancake after about 25 seconds or when it browns. The recipe makes three to four small pancakes.
Not only is this recipe incredibly easy, it’s also extremely tasty. The combination of banana and coconut gives the dish a really refreshing and exotic flavour. Add some pineapple to give your pancake a Pina Colada-esque taste. Who doesn’t like Pina Coladas, right?
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
Although their natural sugar content is on the high side, bananas bring untold health benefits. A great source of potassium, fibre and protein, bananas are a great addition to your pancake mix. In similar fashion, coconut is also a little high on the sugar scale, but this is balanced out by the favourable iron and protein content. Banana and coconut should only be incorporated into your regular diet sparingly, but as a Pancake Day substitute for chocolate, cream and other assorted fattening toppings, they’re an excellent option.
Also, you’ll have noticed that we used just one full egg alongside two egg whites. This helps to keep the calorie count down (there are around 55 calories in each egg yolk), while at the same time retaining many of the nutritional benefits that eggs bring. You can read more about this inour recent blog post.
APPLE PIE PANCAKES
The next four recipes all use the same basic ingredients to make the pancakes.
• 110g of plain flour, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites
• 275 ml of skimmed milk
FOR THIS DISH, YOU’LL ALSO NEED…
• 2 apples
• 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
• Half a teaspoon of powdered nutmeg
• Low-fat Greek yoghurt
To make your topping, you’ll need to slice your apples and stew them in a small amount of boiling water for a couple of minutes. Add your cinnamon and nutmeg and continue to heat through until the apples are nice and soft. Scoop your mixture on to your pancakes and add some Greek yoghurt to the mix. It’ll taste just like rustic American apple pie, but won’t leave you feeling guilty afterwards. You’re welcome!
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
As the old saying goes; an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are crammed with antioxidants and are said to help reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Certainly worth having on your pancakes, then.
The nutritional benefits of cinnamon are perhaps less renowned.This studyshowed that Ceylon Cinnamon could have a positive effect on blood sugar control (in rats anyway). The ingredient is also known to fight bacteria, making it a trusty ally against stomach bugs in particular.
Greek yoghurt, meanwhile, contains just 59 calories per 100 grams (depending on the brand) and as such is a fantastic substitute for cream or full-fat yoghurt.
HEALTHY PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY
Another wondrous comfort food that won’t have a detrimental effect on your waistline.
• A dollop of natural peanut butter (we love scientific measurements!)
• An assortment of mixed berries
• Teaspoon of Greek yoghurt
There’s nothing complicated about this pancake topping, but what it lacks in gastronomic guile it more than makes up for in flavour.
Simply combine a tablespoon of peanut butter with a teaspoon of Greek yoghurt and mix together. This makes the peanut butter a little smoother, and once you add the mixture to your warm pancakes you’ll be presented with a mouth-watering melting concoction that gently oozes out on to your plate. Throw your berries on top to finish the job.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
Peanut butter is a not-so-secret weapon for those who are looking to build muscle. Full of protein, fibre and so-called “good fats” peanut butter – eaten in moderation – is a great addition to your diet and is the perfect pancake topping. The creaminess of the peanut butter/Greek yoghurt mixture complements the tangy sweetness of the berries very nicely. You’ll have your own berry preferences of course, but if you’re undecided, we’d recommend blueberries, which are high in Vitamins C & K.
HEALTHY SAVOURY PANCAKE RECIPES
If you’re already sweet enough, why not have a crack at our savoury pancake recipes? The batter itself is just the same as the dessert version, but the toppings make all the difference.
Give these a try…
SPINACH, MUSHROOM AND LOW-FAT COTTAGE CHEESE
Again, there’s nothing fancy about this pancake topping, but the nutritional benefits are vast. Simply sauté your mushrooms in low-fat spray/oil for a few minutes and add your spinach once the mushrooms are starting to feel soft. Spread atop your pancakes with a splodge of low-fat cottage cheese, and you’ve got a tasty savoury treat that is low in calories but high in flavour.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
Mushrooms are certainly underrated as a healthy ingredient, asthis BuzzFeed postalludes to. A fantastic source of potassium and known to boost our defences against cardiovascular diseases, mushrooms are very much an unsung hero of our cupboards. If you’re feeling daring on Shrove Tuesday, why not switch your standard mushrooms for the Shiitake variety?
At the other end of the scale, the health benefits of spinach are well documented – Popeye knew what he was doing! Good for your skin and bones, spinach is lauded as a“superfood”thanks to the amount of iron, protein and vitamins that are packed into it. Cheese, meanwhile, is a guilty pleasure for many, but rather than sprinkling a load of cheddar on to your pancakes, opt for a low-fat cream cheese instead.
RED PEPPERS & LIME/CHILLI-MARINATED TURKEY
Marinate your turkey in lime and chilli for a few hours in the fridge. In the meantime, slowly roast your chopped red peppers in the oven on a low heat. Once they’re nice and soft, put them in a pan with a tablespoon of tomato passata and warm up.
Grill your turkey until it is thoroughly cooked (15-20 minutes should be long enough) and then chop it into strips. Spoon your tomato/red pepper mix on to your pancakes and place your turkey on top. Grind on some fresh black pepper and you’re ready to go!
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
As one of the leanest meats around, turkey is criminally under-utilised. A healthier alternative to red meat, turkey is not only low in calories, it’s also rammed full of protein, making it an ideal option for those muscle builders among you. What’s more, it’s said to boost your immune system.
Red peppers are also an underappreciated nutritional marvel. They contain 300% of your recommended daily Vitamin C requirements, which is extremely impressive indeed.
NEED MORE INSPIRATION OR ADVICE?
We hope that we’ve demonstrated that the arrival of Shrove Tuesday doesn’t have to derail your health and fitness progress. There’s always a way to take seemingly unhealthy comfort foods and turn them into something that’s delicious and nutritious in equal measure.
If you’ve spent the day running around like a nut and arrive home late, cooking dinner can feel completely unmanageable when all you want to do is sink into a comfy seat and put your feet up. Pouring yourself a bowl of cereal may seem like a sad dinner option, but can actually be a great option. In truth, if you’re heading to bed shortly after your dinner (which, by the way, you shouldn’t do) a bowl of cereal is a light way to satiate yourself without over doing it.
If you don’t feel like spending a ton of time cleaning up, a simple bowl of cereal won’t require much clean up at all.
It Has Vitamins and Minerals
If you choose your cereal wisely, meaning ones with no added sugar, it can deliver a good dose of vitamins and minerals. In whole grain cereal, you can get dietary fiber, B vitamins, minerals, protein, and more.
Cereal For Dinner
You Can Dress It Up
Have a thing for fresh strawberries or blueberries? Adding fruit to low-sugar cereal can add sweetness and texture to an otherwise plain cereal.
Cereal For Dinner
You don’t need to spend a fortune on hefty, unhealthy take out. And you get instant gratification for a lot less money.
Combine the beef, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) rimmed baking dish, mixing thoroughly, then pressing into a flat, even layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Drain the liquid and set the cooked beef aside.
Slice the rolls in half lengthwise. Place the bottom half in the same baking dish. Place the cooked beef on the rolls, followed by the onions and cheese. Top with the remaining rolls.
Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Mickey D’s, Golden Arches – there are a lot of ways we refer to America’s favorite fast food restaurant; however, the slang doesn’t stop here. McDonald’s is recognized across the globe for their tasty burgers, delicious fries, and even better prices.
A company that resides in over30,000 locationsand serves over 68 million people daily, its no wonder it has its own slang. We broke down the McLanguage from around the world, so the next time you find yourself in one of these countries ordering a Big Mac, you’ll feel in the know.
1. USA – “Mickey D’s”
Mickey D’s or Golden Arches, whichever is your go-to slang for McDonald’s – you’ve surely heard these nicknames used. Personally, I’m more of a Mickey D’s gal, but no judging if you’re more of a Golden Arches kinda person.
2. Canada – “McDick’s”
Maybe it’s because I live closer to the Canadian border, or close to a lot of immature college boys, but I’ve certainly heard this nickname used in the states. I’ve got to say, it’s a creative use of the Mc- prefix…
3. Australia – “Macca’s”
What’s Mickey D’s to us is Macca’s to those in the land down under. We affirmed this one both by the internet, and my friends who were lucky enough to spend a semester abroad with the Aussies, and ate plenty of Macca’s along the way.
4. Germany – “Mekkes”
Ah. the land of amazing chocolate and Mekkes. A hop across the pond brings all new verbiage to the booming fast food chain. Wondering if the menu is any different abroad?Check this out.
5. Hong Kong – “Mak Kee”
The land that brought us the ever-so-trendy bubble cone. Residents of Hong Kong refer to McDonald’s as Mak Kee. With amenuso drastically different from other locations, its no wonder their slang is unique.
6. France – “McDo”
Pronounced, “Mac Dough,” the French keep it classy, offering renditions such as thebaguette hamburgerand more. With over 800 locations across the country, the French must love their French Fries.
7. Mexico – “McDona’s”
I can’t say my go-to would be to grab a Big Mac in the land of fish tacos and other delicious Mexican Cuisine; however, sometimes you just need some McDonas, I get it.
8. Japan – “Makku”
Sushi or Makku? What a hard choice. Although, “Makku” in Japan have around50 unique menu itemsnot found in any other country, so, it might just be worth it.
9. Romania – “Mec”
Short, sweet, and to the point. Romania keeps it simple with their McSlang, “Mec.” So next time you find yourself roaming the streets of Romania, throw around some “Mecs” and maybe you’ll blend in.
10. Scotland – “McD’s”
They copied us. Well, almost. The Scottish simplified the Mickey in Mickey D’s and brought to life “McD’s.” I could get use to this one – save your breath and have more room for fries.
So, next time you find yourself on your next world tour, make sure to use this as your guide for locating the nearest McDonald’s. From Mickey D’s to McDo’s, you’re sure to find the nearest Golden Arches with your new learned McLanguage… ha.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Place the sausages in a non-stick baking tray and roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions and mustard seeds together for 10-15 mins until softened and golden.
Remove the sausages and brush with maple syrup. Pop the baguettes onto the same baking tray. Increase the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and return the tray for 5-8 mins until the sausages are dark, shiny and cooked through. Stir the mustard, sugar and vinegar into the onions until the sugar has melted. Cut the baguettes open across the top and put 2 sausages into each. Spoon over the mustardy onions and serve.
Big One – sticks out a mile. Who can forget the classic innuendo laden 1970s TV ad for the Big One chocolate bar? Plenty judging by the blank looks from OldnDazed readers I’ve mentioned it to when discussing my list of the best ever sweets and chocolates.
But, fading memories apart, it does make you think of our favourite sweets and chocolate bars from yesteryear which are no longer with us. Or, they may still be around, just a hell of a lot smaller.
Actually, this journey down confectionary memory lane was inspired by the news that new Walnut Whips are hitting the shelves. Sans the walnut. Hence they are now called Whips.
Makes sense but my inner old git isn’t happy. Even if I did, and still do, take the walnut off and sling it.
The golden age of confectionary
Let’s get straight to it. The 1970s was the decade for chocoholics and sweet addicts. Or maybe it’s just that this decade coincided with my sweet tooth becoming more lethal than Dracula’s fangs at a Transylvanian virgins convention.
Whatever. My favourite munchies from this decade included…..
OK. This is where I need to pause and revaluate. My original intention was to have a decade by decade summary of the bestchoccy treats.
But, during my extensive research (two minutes on Wikipedia) it transpires most of the sweets I remember from my youth were actually introduced years, even decades, before.
So. New tactic. Firstly, a potted history of sweet treats followed by my owntop tenbest ever sweets and chocolates. Needless to say I’m sure this will cause a bit of debate. Anyway, let’s get the dusty history out of the way first.
Back when time forgot
Before Victoria lowered her plump posterior onto the throne sweets weren’t really a thing. Most kids had to make do with munching on small pieces of coal for their sweet treat.
But, onceCharles Dickens had inventedChristmas, new sweets and chocolates had to be found. The grubby pillow cases of street urchins and rich kids’ pristine stockings had to be filled with something. Cue loads of new sweets being produced.
Now, this may not be entirely accurate, OK, its complete bollocks. But let’s run with it.
Vicky rings in the changes
1886 was a seminal year. It sounds incredible but this was the year Fry’s Chocolate Cream was invented. I know what you’re thinking. But it’s true. I know. Unbelievable.
As we’ll see later Mr J.S.Fry’s glorious chocolatey treat makes it into my top ten list of best ever sweets and chocolates. It’s staggering to think how old it is. And, being dairy-free and vegan it was way ahead of its time. Who knew?
The 19th century also saw chewing gum invented in the United States (where else?) and Liquorice Allsorts make their debut. I’m not sure about Bertie Bassett though.
Into the 1900s
I told you this was going to be a brief history. Let’s gallop through the 20th century with a few edited highlights.
The early twentieth century saw chocolate bar producers struggling for sales. However, the First World War changed all that. Manufacturers including Rowntree’s of York sent British soldiers a tin of chocolate each at Christmas 1914. This heralded a surge of popularity for the sweet stuff which has never waned.
Between the wars
Although I started this essay eulogising about the 1970s it was actually the twenties and thirties which were the golden age of sweet making. The decade produced some of the best ever sweets. Amongst other giants of sweet history Kit Kat, Marathon, Flake, Aero and Mars were all invented during this time.
The 1930s may have seen the great depression with massive unemployment, poor housing (for some) and widespread poverty. But at least the sweet shops were stocked with brand new chocolate bars. Only the well-off could afford them but I’m sure the hard-up working classes didn’t begrudge the toffs tucking into their Mars and Kit Kats.
By the way, in 1939 you could nip into Woolies and grab a half pound chocolate bar for sixpence.
Oh no, sweet rationing
Horror of horrors the 1940s saw kids everywhere deprived of their sugar rush as rationing was introduced. Apparently there was a bit of a barney in France which meant kids couldn’t eat chocolate anymore.
The sweet ration varied between 8oz and 16oz a month. This probably equates to a boiled sweet a day. Not a great time to be a chocoholic.
Yay, the end of rationing
Once the Hun had been given a jolly good kicking thoughts, naturally enough, turned to chocolate. There was also the small matter of rebuilding our bombed out cities, launching the NHS and nationalising the railways. But, chocolate was obviously the most important.
Wartime austerity was firmly banished in the 1950s with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan telling the nation “you’ve never had it so good.” He must have been stood in a sweet shop at the time.
Mars had already brought the taste of paradise to the high street with the launch of the Bounty. And the sweetie renaissance was well and truly underway. The end of the decade saw Macintosh create the unique Caramac (another of my best ever sweets) with Opal Fruits appearing a year later in 1960.
In for a penny
As we gallop relentlessly towards the end of the 20th century I should touch on the popularity of penny sweets. The seventies and eighties were probably their heyday. Hordes of kids would turn up at the local shop with a handful of change and leave with a bag of treats.
Personal favourites from the time included:
• Fruit salad
• Candy cigarettes
• Love Hearts
But I was never a fan of the chewy sweets like strawberry laces, foam mushrooms, cola bottles and fried eggs. And was there anyone who actually liked Parma Violets? Surely the most hated sweet of all time?
The seventies saw Yorkie hit the shops but possibly the sweet I bought most at the time was bubble gum. Purely for the football card attached to the gum. A typical scene in any school playground at the time was kids sat around comparing theirfootball card collections looking for swaps. “Got, got, got, got, need!”
Cadbury’s Creme Egg adopted its modern guise in the seventies but I don’t think I was aware of them until much later. The award for the most iconic chocolate bar of the 1980s surely has to go to the Wispa. Mega-popular it was inexplicably binned in 2003 only to be brought out of retirement five years later after a prolonged online campaign.
In the midst of all this goody goodness I have to end my review of the 20th century and the best ever sweets on a sad note. One which I am sure will resonate with old gits everywhere.
July 19, 1990 was a shamefully day writ large in the annals of confectionery history. It was the day of the ridiculous metamorphosis of a Marathon into something called Snickers. I need say no more.
The new millennium
Since the turn of the new century there have been plenty of confectionery changes. All of them bad. It has been one outrageous scandal after another as the size of chocolate bars shrink, the number of sweets in a bag reduce, and prices go through the roof.
The manufacturers defend their heinous behaviour by saying they are helping the health of the nation by reducing the size of sweets. Whilst they simultaneously raise prices and make bigger profits. Thanks fellas.
I suppose the only good thing about the last couple of decades is the emergence of more artisan sweet makers. Every market, many high streets, and most events will feature at least one sweet maker selling their wares.
But, with no more ado I’m going to list my top ten best ever sweets and chocolate bars. As always this is my opinion and I would welcome your list. Use the comments box below to tell us about your favourite confectionery memory.
My top ten best ever sweets and chocolate bars of all time
1 – Bounty
Oh the memories. When I was a kid every Friday Dad would come home from the local with fish n chips, a bottle of shandy, and a Bounty. Back in the day they were bigger and had the cool cardboard tray. I’m still a fan.
2 – Kit Kat
Whether dunking or eating dry a Kit Kat is hard to beat. And I’m not such an old git that I don’t enjoy the new flavours. Mint is my favourite followed by orange. But original will always be best.
3 – Old Jamaica
An absolute Cadbury’s classic from 1970. Bournville dark chocolate with rum and raisins. And the coolest wrapper ever. This bar disappeared for years so imagine my delight when trudging through Morrisons one day I saw it on the shelves. Yes, it’s back. Still available but not easy to find in shops.
4 – Woolworths pick and mix
Not sure if this is cheating or not but every kid loved the pick and mix in Woolworths. Before MacDonald’s a treat during a trip to town meant nipping into Woolies and helping yourself to chocolate mice, Jazzies, strawberry creams and any of the other 1001 exotic delights.
5 – Fry’s Chocolate Cream
Fondant and chocolate. Hard to find a better combination. I enjoy both the original and peppermint versions. Fry’s also did a five centre bar until the 1990s which was a tad too adventurous I thought.
6 – Munchies
I was surprised to discover Munchies were a thing back in the 1950s. I don’t think I discovered them when I was a kid but they are my guilt snack of choice now. Love the original and the mint which were called Mintola.
7 – Caramac
The chocolatey equivalent of Marmite. You either love it or hate it. It’s in my top ten so I’m definitely a lover though I don’t know many others who share my opinion.
8 – Milk Tray Bar
Oh yes, this was a thing. Eight Milk Tray chocolates joined together in a bar. Unbelievable. My favourite was the lime barrel. Loved it. Wish they would bring this one back.
9 – Milky Way
It’s the treat you can eat between meals. An easy to eat bar and it had those brilliant adverts during the eighties when the blue car beat the greedy red car. Did you know in America a Milky Way is actually a Mars bar? Those Yanks are nuts.
10 – Maltesers
Another classic confectionery invented in the 1930s. Who doesn’t like a box of this malty treat at Christmas? Or any other time of the year.
THIS EARL GREY CAKE IS PERFECT FOR THE TEA LOVER IN YOUR LIFE! EARL GREY INFUSED CAKE LAYERS PAIRED WITH A SILKY VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM.
There is nothing quite like having to call the fire department while you’re in the middle of making a cake. And no, this was not due toanother incidentwith the kitchen torch. It actually had nothing to do with my baking at all (hah!), but it certainly made for a more eventful Thursday than I had planned.
It all started with an odd smell in the kitchen. I went in there late morning to start making the buttercream for thisEarl Grey Cakeand smelled this weird mechanical/chemical kinda smell (not gas). I thought maybe it was the landscapers with their various electric tool things (lol, I have no idea what they are called), but the smell didn’t dissipate after they left, and actually got stronger.
In typical Olivia fashion, I started to freak out, half-finished cake still sitting on the counter. I have a pretty wild imagination so I started picturing faulty wiring in the walls, smoking and starting an electrical fire (for real). Our place is 30 years old (we’ve only been here for a year) and has had some work done to it. Some of the stuff here has been DIY’d, and I have no idea what’s inside the walls.
Anyhow, due to fears of an electrical fire (lol, sigh), I went and turned off all of the breakers leading to anything in the kitchen. Sure enough, the smell faded away. This confirmed my fears that it was something electrical. So, naturally, I went to Google to see what to do. As always, Google issohelpful. No matter what you look up, you’re either dying or you’re going to die. Everything was like: “Get out of the house!”,”You’re gonna die!”, “Call the fire department”. So I did.
I had to psych myself up to do it though. The thought of a fire truck outside my door, neighbors gawking and wondering wtf was going on, I just didn’t want to deal with it. But I also didn’t want out place to burn down, so… I literally had an internal pep talk before I dialled the number.
Anyhow, the fire department arrives. I could hear their sirens as I was pacing the floor, wondering if somehow they could be discreet (lol). They checked stuff out as much as they could, using their heat sensor things, but couldn’t find anything. I was hoping they’d be like — ok, turn on each of the breakers one by one and we’ll see. Unfortunately, they said they weren’t qualified to assess that and that I’d need to call an electrician, but to leave all the breakers off. SIGH. At least I was assured that nothing was currently on fire? I guess?
So off I go to Google again to find an electrician who can come TODAY. ASAP. I was cringing at the amount I would be charged for this emergency visit. I get off the phone with the guy, who says he’ll be here in a couple hours, and turn the breaker for the fridge back on because, HELLO, I have a cake in there.
As soon as I get back upstairs I smell it again. It’s easy to get behind our fridge, so I pull it out and start smelling the outlet. LOL I am SUCH a freak/loser/whatever. I thought for sure it was coming from there, but then I hear a zap from the back of the fridge. Aha! My nose leads me to the bottom of the back of the fridge, where there is this grate, and that’s where the smell is coming from. Thank god. I was so relived it wasn’t something in the walls!!
I cancelled the electrician (yay!).
I didn’t realize at that point that the fridge had actually DIED. I thought it was just on its last legs and that we should probably look at buying one on the weekend. After the whole ordeal (and finishing this cake), I went into the freezer to get a popsicle (it was super hot that day). The popsicle was basically mush. Oh *&^%. The fridge is DEAD. Ooookay, so off I went to the appliance store (alone, Ryan was at work and the shop closes at 5:30pm, seriously) to buy one that day.
Thankfully they had one they could deliver on Saturday, so it wouldn’t be too bad. We put what we could into our (already packed and very small) second fridge/freezer, but there was still a lot left in the fridge. It was keeping things cool-ish as it died, but by Saturday morning when we opened it up, the air that came out of there was warmer than the air outside. Gross.
So, a bit of an ordeal and some food loss, but it all worked out in the end. And we finally have a new fridge, which I’ve wanted since the day we moved in. Now, let’s talk about thisEarl Grey Cake, shall we? Because it’s a winner.
I’d had anEarl Grey Cakeon my radar for a while now, but it seemed like more of a “Fall” type cake (cozy sweaters, warm tea, etc.), so I waited until it was closer to Fall season. The days are getting shorter and cooler (I’m actually wearing a sweater as I type this – insert happy face).
Earl Grey is traditionally a black tea that is flavoured with bergamot (citrus). I say traditionally because you can now get rooibos and even green tea versions of Earl Grey. I prefer the traditional one, although mine has a bit of a twist too. My favourite is aCream of Earl Greywhich adds a hint of vanilla to the classic beverage. It really takes it to a whole ‘nother level of deliciousness. I used Cream of Earl Grey tea in the cake, but you can use any kind you like.
You don’t have to love tea to love this cake! Ryan is not a tea drinker at all, and he loved the unique flavour it has — though I will say that if you are not a fan of Earl Grey, it might not be up your alley. The Earl Grey tea is infused into the cake layers in many levels, so it is very prominent. I paired it with a simple vanilla bean buttercream to compliment the creamy Earl Grey flavours.
TIPS FOR THIS EARL GREY CAKE:
If you don’t like Earl Grey tea, you can experiment with other tea flavours. I used Cream of Earl Grey for this cake.
The Earl Grey syrup is optional (I forgot to add it even though I had it made), but it will enhance the flavour of the cake even more, and will add moisture.
I used the tea leaves as garnish on the cake for the pictures, but do not recommend doing this as they are rather unpleasant to chew on!
Bring milk and tea to a boil in a small pot over med-high heat. Turn heat off and steep for 10mins. Strain and measure out 1 cup. Top up with milk if needed.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6″ cake rounds and line with parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, tea,and salt until well combined. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on med-high until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
Alternate adding flour mixture and Earl Grey milk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition.
Bake for approx. 35mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Earl Grey Syrup:
Place sugar, water, and tea into a small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 mins. Remove from heat, steep for 5 mins. Strain and cool completely.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
Place bowl over a double boiler on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot (160F) and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.** Add vanilla bean paste and mix until incorporated.
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush with 2-3 Tbsp of the Earl Grey syrup.
Top with approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream and spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for 20mins.