Turning 30 is a big occasion. Our eldest turned 30 this month and she had her friends from Toulouse come to Coin Perdu to celebrate. She wanted this chocolate cake which we have been baking for years in our home. Really a deliciously decadent cake and so easy and quick. I found it years ago in Annette Human’s Winning recipes 3. It is from Renie Conradie who got it from her husbands stepmother, grandma Polly. Well, there you go.. a recipe that withstood generations of baking and is still going strong.
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Baking the cake at 170 °C will prevent the cake from cracking and rising to a point in the middle.
- Gently hit the the bottom of the cake pan on the table surface to get rid of air bubbles.
- Add 1 tsp extra cacao to the cake mixture for a darker cake.
- Serve with whipped cream or ice cream or créme fraìche.
- The cake becomes tastier the longer it stands.
In his speech mon chéri said he remembered the day he turned 30 years ago.. He thought he was old then. With our first daughter turning 30, he wondered how he should feel now. the nice thing about having children turning 30, is that we felt 30 again too, being in the company of all the “20’s-going-on-30’s” and all the “30-something’s” for a whole weekend,
Preparations were done on Saturday by everyone for a rustic-shabby-chic evening, which lasted until Sunday morning at 4. I was just about to call the police to complain about the “kids” keeping me awake, when the last one crawled into the barn and a faintly familiar silence fell over Coin Perdu. It lasted only few hours before the first morning coffee announced the next chapter of busyness
..Some British Pimms..
..the apero table..
..friends starting arriving..
..1, 2, 3 et voilà!..
..oh dear…a little too much muscle!..
..joghurt marinated legs of lamb..
..preparing the buffet table..
..fire and food..
..old fashioned coke..
..always a fire..
..a chandelier in the walnut tree for some romance..
The day after the night before always starts in slow motion. Crawling out of tents, coffee with brioche, and a shower finally opens up heavy eyelids. so much so that a rugby ball can be thrown about by the brave, others go for walks and pick wildflowers(which would find their way onto my dressing table, since it was mother’s day), some just hang around in a deep chair, and the real brave ones get onto a horse. Finally everyone gathers to fill stomachs on leftovers, tent pens are pulled out, cars wave goodbye and the sun sets on a 30th birthday. Long may she live to remember this year!
When I think of spring and Easter, I think of Easter eggs(of course!), roasted lamb, asparagus and petits pois, daffodils, blossoms, new born animals playing on green prairies with yellow dandelions. A beautiful time of year. For this Easter, we will enjoy some oeufs cocotte, salads, some oven roasted rosemary lamb and we will probably finish our day with a mini Nantais cake. Made to stand for 2 days, its flavour just gets better and better. It can also be baked as one big cake, but a change is always good, so I made it into individual mini cakes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas 6, 356°F).
- Grease a cake tin(20cm diameter), or mini cake molds of your choice.
- Beat together 125g soft butter, 125 g castor sugar and 100g ground almonds until creamy.
- Add 3 eggs, one at a time. Beat until well mixed.
- Add 40g flour, 2 TBSP of apricot jam and 50ml of rum. Mix until the mixture is light and fluffy
- Pour the mixture into the greased cake tin of the mini tin. Bake in oven for 40 -50 minutes for the large cake tin, or 30-40 minutes for the mini cakes. If the surface gets too dark, cover with a sheet of tin foil or brown paper. Test with a skewer which need to be dry when pulled out.
- Prepare the icing: Mix together 50ml rum with 100g icing sugar. Pour over the cakes and serve.
Serve 6 people
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Bake the cake about 2 days for a more flavourful cake.
- Replace the rum with lemon juice of 1 lemon if you don’t want alcohol.
- Replace the rum in the icing sugar with a few drops of lemon juice.
The garden is far from finished – I walk around with a knee brace after hurting it with a fall, the days are filled with rain the ground is soaked…so working is not very apparent. At least the bulbs planted in fall have no problems showing off their splendour. So.. to accompany this Easter posting, here are some images from the garden beginning April.
..Bienvenue dans mon jardin à Pacques..
..A bed of daffodils, tulips and muscaris..
..No need to encourage the chickens to go play outside!..
..Two chicks, only 3 days old..
..daffodils waiting to flower..
..Have a lovely Easter time..
We have harvested some delicious nectarines from our newly planted nectarine tree. Our first apricots and cherries were stolen by someone..I will have to take stronger measurements against the feathered folk next year…
This rustic tart is prepared in a jiff, bakes 40 minutes, just enough time to get the coffee ready, clean up and call everybody to the table under the old oak tree.
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Use other fruits like apricots, or apples, pears, peaches, plums…
- Use pine nuts or pistachios instead of almonds.
- Be careful not to use too strong a honey like lavender honey which will completely overpower the tart.
- Serve warm with a dollop of créme fraiche, or a dollop of ice cream on hot days.
- When the flesh of the nectarines stick to the seed, place the nectarine on its stem side and cut a cheek on each wide side of the nectarine from top to bottom, close to the seed. Cut each cheek in half to get neat quarters. Cut off the rest of the flesh on each narrow side of the seed which already resembles en quarter.
Yesterday it was time for the new mother hens and their chicks to be upgraded to the chicken coop. When the chicks are born, I always take them and mamans from the chicken coop and keep them aside in a basket with me where I know they are safe and I get to enjoy the chicks more as well. Every moring they are taken outside and the flap lifted and they scurry out, happy to see light(and me, I hope) and every evening they move into their beds themselves, I close the flap and bring them inside. After a three weeks or so, when the chicks are strong enough and they start walking with the rest of the flock, I walk them to the chicken coop late afternoons, have them investigate and integrate en find their spot among the others. This takes a few evenings, because the rankings have now been disturbed in the poulailler and new ones have to be established. Never a dull moment.
..les deux mamans et leurs petits poussins..
..la poulailler “secondaire” ou elles partent en “vacances” (the holiday home where they spend their vacation)…
..le gardien devant la poulailler (guarding the chicken coop)..
In “le jardin de Ronelle” everything is a bit wild in July. The weeds win me over a bit, the lawns need constant mowing and trimming and deadheading drag behind. The chicks appear and begs for attention, the rabbits multiply and eat my salads… the tomatoes are growing like Jack’s beanstalk and we can keep up with the abundance of courgettes! Not to forget my constant desire to plant more and change again and again.
..les lapins n’attendent pas une invitation, elles sont trop à l’aise déja(the rabbits don’t await an invitation , thye just make themselves at home)..
At times like these, I just sit back and start focusing on the corners and little details that work together to make a garden. Some small corners and moments that give me pleasure. They tell a story in their own way.
..mais mignons quand même (but so cute)…
.Quelques morceaux de porcelaine voisinent un pelargonium odorant dans la mini serre ( old pieces of porcelain next to a scented géranium in a mini greenhouse)..
..les chaises et les lanternes (chairs and lanterns)…
..mon chéri picking some nectarines..
..J’adore mes pelargoniums odorants sur la table ( I love my scented geraniums on our outdorro table)..
Ice cream is a big favorite in our home. Usually I have my one or two scoops in a little bowl and mon chéri takes over the rest of the contaziner. As you see here, Carte d’or being very popular here. Apparently Carte d’Or saw the light in 1978 in France with only 5 flavors and their latest flavors arr absolutely just to die for..I am close to not handing over the container to mon chéri! See Carte d’Or here.
..et surtout la glace!..
..mes agapanthes bleue..
..dipladania blanc et les lavandes à l’arriére plan ( dipladenia agains a backdrop of lavenders)..
..L’heure de siésta!
..un verre de vin, une magazine et la tranquilité (a glass of wine a magazine and calm)..
à la prochaine fois
A yoghurt cake…infallible and so easy even your young children can bake it! Everything gets measured with the one yoghurt pot, perfect for someone like me who hates dishes!
Pincée de sel:
- Choose either the syrup OR the icing
- One cup of joghurt = 125 g.
- Use as a dessert when you’ve added a syrup to your cake and serve with whipped cream and caramelized or fresh orange slices. (Caramelize orange slices in pan on stove with some sugar and a little butter/orange juice)
- Use lemon juice in place of orange juice.
- Separate the egg whites , beat until stiff and fold in last for a lighter cake.
- A thin slice of cake goes a long way…
I have mentioned before that I always baked a cake or a tart for the weekend, way back when the girls were small. I was quite good at it too…made interesting treats for the weekends…tried new recipes, concocted my own all the while having tiny hands mixing and whisking Since then, life has changed completely, like it does with years passing by. Now it is only mon chéri and me and I have become quite useless at baking..much to the distress of mon chéri! The last few weeks I tried some new recipes, tried concocting my own like old times, but being good at baking back then doesn’t apply any more…. three times I failed miserably lately.
I couldn’t get the first cake to bake through completely..however long I let it bake! After a while I gave up and removed the cake, just to cut it and find that it tasted horribly of egg. With egg whites and beaten egg yolks with sugar and a filling of créme patissiére which is basically eggs and sugar..it turned into a “a sweet eggish cake” and I had difficulty swallowing it. Apart from it not being a great recipe (in my humble non-expert opinion), I was also clumsy, so between all the other possibilities, I naturally messed up somewhere. But then, the recipe guided me with all those eggs…so naturally I crossed out this recipe with a “Don”t try again” -note.
The second cake was totally my own incompetence….but I will only admit that in front of a firing squad. Just maybe I took too many shortcuts, which every decent baker knows, results in catastrophic outcomes. There is a reason why you need so much raising agent for X amount of flour. There is a reason for beating the egg whites, or creaming yolks and sugar, or adding soft butter and not melted butter. It is a science and I, who ironically enough have a science background, took shortcuts. so logically the results were exactly the same as you would find by shortcutting in a lab…nothing works and you come close to blowing up the lab…in this case, the cake. But since there was no firing squad, I blamed the recipe and crossed it off as “Terrible recipe”‘...sounds familiar right?
My third cake burnt into oblivion. Crossed off…“Horrible recipe”!
And so I arrived at the yoghurt cake for this weekend. Taken from the book Le Petit Larousse -Pattissier(it even has a pretty picture of the cake), I decided I would follow the recipe step by step, leaving no window for error. Armed with my reading glasses, I wiped my working surface clean. I took out all my ingredients, placed them orderly in front of me.Deliberately slowing down my usual hasty pace. I placed my bowls in ranging order on the counter. I cracked my eggs in a different little bowl before adding to a bigger one, to prevent cunning egg shell pieces surprising me later. I rubbed my hands in excitement and started off with step one of the recipe. Done. Step two. Done. Step three. Done. This is so easy! Done. But then it started going wrong. Stupidly I added mirin instead of sunflower oil to my preparation. The bottles look very similar as do the colours! And I added the orange juice, meant for the syrup much later, to my preparation as well. Zut! Zut! It was supposed to be easy! Only one solution. Throw out and restart? Yes. I can’t suck at baking forever and blame the recipe! This time I attacked this recipe like I attack my tennis games. My own way.At my own natural pace, with my own shots, doing what and how I do it best. Yet, still withing the rules of the game. The science of baking. And voilà, so it came that we have a cake for this weekend, however a bit rustic and unrefined it may be and not at all like the pretty decorated and styled picture in the book…
Finally? Yes, it is truly an easy and delicious little cake and quick enough, if you get it right first time round…
Mon chéri is a happy man. And I am a proud baker. And there is still cake left, because a thin slice goes a long way.