Recently, Team Pretty Bake has been observing a kitchen hiatus brought about by a flurry of gardening activity. Following much bed preparation numerous varieties of beans, peas, beetroot, corn and carrots have now been entombed, and our seedlings are well on their way to being planted out. Should efforts to prepare for the long-term care of our thirsty offspring actually eventuate, there will be some very exciting times and produce ahead.
Garden developments – seedlings away, fruit trees blossoming, seeds in, & I even built me a fence!
But despite enjoying some time out of doors and basking in the promise of home-grown seasonal produce, we are bakers by heart and by nature, and naturally yearn for our habitual surrounds. Hence, like the proper ladies that we are, we made true our womanly virtues and got back in the kitchen for a Sunday session filled with frill and fancy.
Now, our methods for recipe selection tend to be rather haphazard, and so to ensure that prose sufficiently intellectual and witty in nature is presented (cough!), I will often try and draw together our cooking exploits into some sort of theme. This week’s twittering allusions gave promise of both cutthroats and a cappella quartets in the guise of all things barbershop, and as exciting as this would be, I must confess that I was perhaps being a tad exaggeratory. In fact, if I were being perfectly honest, I would likely have to admit that the only causal relationship between barber’s pole and TPB Sunday treats was in fact one of coloured aesthetics.
Red and white were our fortuitous primary’s of choice, and as there was also a deliberate undercurrent of taunting due to a questioning of our capabilities, it may be both apt and of interest to note that a barber’s pole was traditionally associated with the practice of bloodletting. Apparently in medieval times, barbers were also surgeons, and it was standard practice to hang clean and blood-stained bandages from shopfront poles, atop and abottom which sat basins for leeches and collecting blood, respectively. Said bandages would twist together in the wind, hence the spiral and optical illusionary pole more commonly seen today. In another stretch to relate TPB activities to useless information, you may also be interested to learn that “on the Barber pole” refers to the maximum safe velocity at which an aircraft will travel, and conceivably the level at which we prefer to operate. Even more interestingly and tangential, there was a decree made in France during the Middle Ages banning facial hair on men. Thankfully, that didn’t persist.
But I digress. Enough of my proclivity for beardyness and on to baked delights.
Before we got on to our candy cane-esque treats, Miss Rose had a hankering for balls, and so we turned to the omnipotent Cook’s Companion and constructed sardine polpette – a delicious combination of sardines, currants and pine nuts.
A second craving was also addressed and satisfied by the preparation of hummus laced with cumin, garlic and tahini. Rather moreish, the two combined made for a pretty tidy lunch, and epitomised the lure of unavoidable temptation, causing certain individuals to exclaim as to their fullness while simultaneously reaching for another helping.
Sardine polpette with hummus & Mr Pita
Our first red and white number was rhubarb strawberry mascarpone cheesecake. A buttery, biscuity crust was filled with stewed rhubarb and strawberries, topped with a luscious vanilla lemon mascarpone cream and baked until a delicious golden brown. Finished with a rhubarb strawberry glaze, it was particularly gorgeous and equally heavenly to consume.
Rhubarb & strawberry mascarpone cheesecake
Next I set about emulating my personal kitchen pin-ups by making cinnamon and hazelnut meringues. Using the Swiss method, if food is supposed to represent the erotic, then these would have to be some of the sexiest treats on offer. Any attempt I make to articulate just how silken and luxurious this mixture is will be thoroughly inadequate, so the best I can do is offer some images of the divine, and suggest you craft these yourselves post-haste.
Cinnamon & hazelnut meringues
We finished the day with another sumptuous splendour that was meringue roulade with rose and Morello cherries. Snow white meringue was topped with rose-scented cream and preserved Morello’s, rolled, and finished with sugared rose petals. While I must intimate that such ambrosial creations should be reserved only for those of whom you’re rather fond as preparation of the petals requires much love, persistence and fine motor skills, all of which are deserving of devoted appreciation; I can also assure that this elegant beauty will immediately leave any guest positively smitten.
Meringue roulade with rose & Morello cherries
It is therefore my belief, dear Will, that the answer to your question is yes we do, and we do so rather well.