16 June 2010

GUEST BLOG: Learning how to make lots of sweet treats

By guest blogger SARAH-CLARE CONLON

I promised to take a Cracking Good Food session, so I put my money where my mouth is and put my mouth round a nice slice of homemade cake.

The Easy Puddings masterclass was held last night at Chorlton High School, in a very well-equipped domestic science lab. Following Adele's quick runthrough of some general housekeeping points (emergency exits, location of loos, tidying up afterwards), Cooking Leader Kim and Cooking Assistant Avril were straight into passing out scales and sponge cake ingredients to the three groups of three and four eager students.

Particularly democratic in our group, one of us worked out 200g unsalted butter then transferred it to a saucepan to soften, one of us measured out 200g brown caster sugar to be creamed into the butter using an electric handwhisk (sooo much easier than doing it with a wooden spoon, I can tell you!), and one of us weighed out 200g self-raising flour, to be sifted into the creamed butter along with three eggs, cracked in, one by one, by each of us! We were having fun! After adding a splash of milk, we poured half the mixture into one silicon baking case and the other half into a second. While the sponges baked for 20 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 175C (gas mark 4), we moved onto our second dessert.

Next on the menu was a no-bake cheesecake which turned out to be very easy, very impressive and very berry! Having taken out the stresses of the day on some digestive biscuits with a rolling pin, we pressed the resulting crumbs (complete with a generous pinch of ginger) into separate ramekins to create individual dessert pots. These were refrigerated while we made the filling: blueberries broken down for 10 minutes on the hob with some sugar, folded into a mixture of cream cheese, Greek yoghurt, icing sugar and lemon zest and juice. It made for a tangy taste, with all the flavours coming through one after the other. The rich purple and white marble effect goo was spooned over each of the bases and a couple of sprigs of fresh mint added for presentation, before the pots were popped back in the chiller until later.

Back to the Victoria Sandwiches, and as the sponges were left to cool on the side, we got on with the filling: sliced fresh new season British strawberries and double cream, whisked to a stiff thickness. These were layered on the first sponge, with the second pressed down on top. A top layer of icing sugar was drifted over, and three fresh'n'fancy Victoria sponge cakes were ready! Once cups of tea were distributed, we all tucked in. Mmmm.

Avril will be running the next workshop for Cracking Good Food: Tasty Salads. The details about this courses and all the others are on the Cracking Good Food website.

Sarah-Clare Conlon is a writer, editor and press officer who lives in Chorlton and does PR for Cracking Good Food. You can read her award-winning blog about arts and culture here.

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