Friday, 30 October 2015

The not so yummy mummy

By: Mrs Robot

"I won't do a chocolate cake for Halloween this year," I thought. "I know I was planning to make a werewolf, but I bet everyone's fed up of chocolate cake*."

After lots of thinking about this year's Halloween cake, I decided to make a carrot cake and pipe the coating into 'bandages' to make a mummy. I got a lovely broad icing nozzle from Pitts, Trowbridge's specialist baking and sugarcraft shop, dragged out my trusty old copy of Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book (the same book that contains the always-reliable chocolate cake recipe) and got to work.

The cake worked brilliantly. It looks very tasty. This is despite our 'pick what you think will work' oven temperature dial, which has lost all its numbers. The cream cheese icing, however... I don't know what went wrong. I followed the recipe, yet instead of a nice fluffy mixture it was RUNNY. Properly liquid. I tried beating it, no joy. I gave in, put it in the fridge in the hope that the cool temperature would stiffen the two main non-sugar ingredients (cream cheese and butter), made a couple of eyeballs from marshmallow fondant and went to bed.

I left it in the fridge overnight. This morning it still wasn't pipeable. Have you ever seen the appalling horror film The Stuff**? That's what it looked like. Runny white goop***. It tasted great, but was no good for cakes. I desperately whipped up a batch of buttercream, but on starting to decorate realised I'd need enough sugary icing to send my entire office into a diabetic coma.

I'm feeding my workmates sweets from M&S instead, and will defeat the mummy myself later...

*Like that EVER happens.
**Which I remember mainly because in the film The Stuff came in pots and put my brother off Pot Noodles for years. You'd think given he was prepared to eat the contents, a mere horror film would have no effect, but it did.
***If you've any ideas what might have gone wrong with the cream cheese icing, I'd love to know. I traded the specified marge for butter, and did wonder if there was some chemical in margarine that was required. Or is modern soft cheese in tubs treated in some way to make it soft that also renders it unsuitable for turning into icing? I can't work it out.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

October, we are ready for you!

By: Mrs Robot

October is a big month in the House of Robots, but also usually a horribly busy one. I like to do something for Halloween - as Mr Robot doesn't like small children coming to the house, this usually means making a cake (last year's was a Martian cake) and treats for my workmates. Also, since our trip to Burma/Myanmar (take your pick) a couple of years ago, we've also marked Thadingyut. We're not Buddhists, or indeed religious at all, but I'd hoped to feel a connection to my family when we were in Maymyo/Pyin Oo Lwin, and walking through the streets all lit with candles was deeply moving, so ever since we've lit a candle and eaten Burmese food for Thadingyut.

Usually I get halfway through the month and realise both things are coming. This year Thadingyut is the 26th-28th of October and Halloween falls, as always, on the 31st. However, we are prepared this time! We've got two lovely Burmese meat dishes in the freezer, leaving us just side dishes to think about, and this morning I picked up some bags of sweets from Marks and Spencer. Pinterest is a great source of free Halloween printables, and I have some lovely little boxes to print and make up, then the sweets can go in them.

And after October we can rest... apart from Bonfire Night and Christmas!