What a grim old day it is, me & the cat are snuggled up in my room both tentatively glancing at the down pour outside. Thames Water have published a statement on their website thanking everyone for doing their bit to help lift the hose pipe ban, I expect most of the work was done by the great British weather & its grand disregard for sporting events, with the impeding Olympics it seems to have erratically upped its game. Standing in Kings Cross station yesterday an alien & rather plummy version of British Rail English announced “Due to the inclement weather” I couldn’t help wondering if it would have been more practical to use the word rain given it’s proximity to St Pancras. But my weather imposed house arrest is as good a reason to start writing as any. God I haven’t written anything in such a long time that I’m surprised I still no how. I guess I better explain where I’ve been all this time. I was in two minds about whether to talk about my life at Meat Liquor as the opinions expressed here are my own, not theirs, but for 9 months I was their Pie Lady & not much else. On the 11/11/11 Meat Liquor hit the ground running to rave reviews. It was an amazing experience which I couldn’t even begin to explain in my delirium of sleep deprivation, adjectives failed me. My dreams were consumed with slicing pie & an echoed calls of “MEAT”. Working in a kitchen is a lifestyle choice, you cease to function like a normal member of society, in busy public spaces I still have to restrain myself from shouting behind & expecting folks to leap out of my way. It was an all encompassing, all consuming, love affair & I wouldn’t change a second of it.
I decided to treat myself to a months breaking after leaving. It felt a bit like the first day back after a long adventure, endless mountains of washing & an empty fridge, all the things you’ve been meaning to do but there was never quite time pile up quite dramatically. It’s taken me a while to adapt to this new relaxed pace but I’m just starting to get in the swing of it. In the spirit of R&R I decided to go & visit Tara who is currently studying at Ballymaloe Cookery School. It’s hard not to be inspired by Ballymaloe, it is idyllic. At times I think I’m guilty of forgetting there’s a world outside London, that the pace I exist at isn’t the only way. I came away daydreaming of rural living & perhaps a better work/life balance, a more sustainable existence in more ways than one.
It dawned on me that I hadn’t baked a cake just for the pleasure of eating it in a long time. Don’t get me wrong I was still baking on my day off but it tended to be birthday cakes or treats for the chefs. Freshly filled with Irish inspiration (That is not a euphemism) I thought I would revisit an old favourite: Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake. I must have made this cake a dozen times, the recipe is now firmly ensconced in my memory. The Guinness provides a great depth of favour which lifts it above the average chocolate cake, it is moist almost brownie like without being too heavy. The recipe is from Feast by Nigella Lawson which is worth owning for the chapter entitled “Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame” alone, alternatively it can be found here. If you are not a fan of washing up the cake batter can be made in one large sauce pan, make sure you whisk in the sour cream before eggs to drop the temperature so they don’t scramble. As the recipe calls for a springform tin I like to invert the cooled cake before icing, this allows you to disguise the small lip created at point at which the sides & base clip together. Nigella tops hers with billowing clouds of cream cheese frosting, I prefer to flatten mine off with a hot palette knife so it’s reminiscent of Guinness in its more tradition state. I can’t recommend making this cake highly enough, it’s near fool-proof & it keeps well for days. Although I would add that due to the cakes consistency & depth it does take rather a long time to cool, roughly an hour, so it’s not suitable for “in case of emergency” baking.