During the Summer in Cyprus, I do minimal baking. If I do need to make a dessert for some reason, either I cut up some fresh fruit and make a fruit salad, or I throw together a basic bar cake in a roasting pan.
But now the weather's a little cooler, I like pottering in the kitchen a bit more, and I also like trying out new recipes. Yesterday might have been a lazy day for the cats, but it wasn't for me. We were expecting our good friends - a family of eight - and two other friends who are staying with them, for the evening. We get together every couple of weeks for a cold meal; they bring cut up salad veggies and cheese, while I make some bread, and some kind of dessert.
Making bread is easy with my breadmaker. I now have a recipe that's pretty much foolproof, so long as I remember to adjust the temperature depending on the season. Here are the first two loaves I made:
Sometimes two is sufficient for this group, but I thought I'd make a third anyway. Just as well I did, since they brought two other teenage girls with them, making us a party of thirteen at the table (the youngest member of the family is not quite five months old, so doesn't have a seat to herself).
I was thinking about making some kind of apple cake, since I had about four small, soft apples in the fruit bowl. Since my non-citrus juice extractor is broken, and the one on the food processor isn't great, I've only been making orange juice recently.
So when, browsing Google Reader to see what my favourite bloggers had been posting lately, I saw a recipe called Marie-Helene apple cake, I knew I had to make it... particularly since two of the people in the family who were coming are called Marie and Helen.
It came out pretty well, although I think I used rather too much apple:
I wanted to make something else as well, since I realised that it wasn't very big. Browsing more cake recipes on the same blog,
I came across a chocolate banana cake. It looked extremely good. At the last minute I decided not to use my largest loaf pan (which was not quite as big as the one in the instructions) since there appeared to be a vast amount of mixture. Instead, I used my seven-inch square cake pan, which turned out to be exactly the right size:
Slightly to my surprise, the apple cake proved to be the more popular. Everyone thought it extremely good. The chocolate cake was very chocolatey, with only the faintest hint of banana, but rather dryer than I'd expected. I'm not sure why.
Since I also cooked lunch for Richard and myself, and had a fair amount of cleaning up to do after all the baking, and then our friends arrived around 5.00pm, it was far from a lazy day from my perspective.