It Twas the night before Christmas

And whilst the genoise bake and the chiboust cream chills, two hands find themselves without a little assistant or husband or Christmas related faff to distract them.

It is a very long time since I was around these parts.  Almost two three months.  I am surprised I haven't had a little note from Marie kicking me out of the HCB'ers.  I do have a couple of excuses. 

These are currently referred to as Twin A and Twin B.  And far out, have they been taking a lot of my excess everything.  I have just passed thirteen fourteen weeks, and whilst I thankfully haven't been sick, I have felt a tad tired.  Hence the break in blogging.  And baking for that matter.  That strictly isn't correct, I have been baking and that stretched to a few photos on occasion, but it has all been a bit lack lustre.  Too busy being tired and excited and nervously anxious and saying "Oh my, twins!" repeatedly.  I will keep the mention of pregnancy etc to a minimum - this is a baking blog, not a pregnancy blog.

Ha! It literally Twas the night before Christmas, however, now it is quite a few nights post Christmas.  First day back at work and I feel like I have somehow missed Christmas altogether.

Anyway, a brief round up of the cakes issuing forth from the oven...

Chocolate Genoise with Peanut Butter Ganache - the genoise was a blinding success even with the eleventy hundred flour bombs littering the base and insides of the cake.  I was kind of hoping that the heat from the oven would dissolve those flour balls, but once I tested the cake with a toothpick and it came out tipped in flour, I knew that no weird chemical reaction had occurred to dissolve that flour. 

I then spent about 15 minutes excavating flour balls from the bottom (top) of the cake.  Even after 15 minutes I didn't manage to get all of them!  The pile was substantial...

I wasn't overly enamored with the raspberry syrup - the cake didn't need it at all.  I also wasn't that keen on the peanut butter ganache, however I think that might be because my tastebuds are a bit weird.  Everyone who tried it raved about the ganache; the syrup; the cake - clearly it is just my tastebuds.  It was a breeze to make and it came together perfectly.  This will definitely be on my bake again list - spectacular and pretty easy.

Next out was the Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake.  Meh.  However, it was easy "meh".  I didn't really like this cake at all.  I found it a bit dry and pretty lacking given that it followed on directly after the spectacular genoise.  I won't be making this one again anytime soon, I would prefer to spend an extra five minutes on beating lukewarm eggs to triple their volume and turn out the genoise.  To my mind, this is the cake that needed the syrup and some ganache.  I do love that tin though!

For my free choice week I baked the Swedish Pear Almond Cake - the week after it was actually scheduled.  I was a bit nervous about this - the almond comes from almond paste, of which I am not a fan.  That almond essence taste gives me the heebies - pregnant or no.  Especially since the only almond paste I could find was the rolling almond paste that is traditionally layered under hard fondant on those heavy old style Christmas cakes.  I bravely soldiered on.  I do like to stick to Rose's recipes the first time round, and then tweak afterwards.  I figure that Rose and Woody have baked a few more cakes than I and may just know their way around a recipe... plus I am not allergic to anything.

The almond paste is blended with egg, butter, sugar and then channelled into the cake, with the pear slices layered on top of the almond mix.  Then through cake magic that works for almonds and pears (and also for undissolved flour balls) the top becomes the bottom which then becomes the top again. 


This cake was fabulous.  Great crumb, the almond taste was discernible but not heebie inducing.  And the pear developed and further moistened the cake over the next few days.  Definitely a bake again cake.  Fantastic for a morning tea or afternoon tea.  Or dinner (ahem).  I did mention how tired I have been.  Some days it is unreasonable to expect me to cook dinner when there is perfectly good cake sitting on the bench.

I didn't make the Candian Crown.  Christmas doesn't exactly bring me out the cheesecake lover in me.  I opted instead for the St Honore Trifle.   I actually did the Rose trick of diving my hands through the batter to make sure that the flour balls were dissolved.  This was my Christmas miracle.  Two perfect genoise, with only one flour ball between (amongst?) them.

These came together perfectly.  My chiboust cream was fantastic (modest aren't I - but I claim no credit - it is all Rose!).  The strawberries (from Egypt!) weren't exactly England's best, but they were good enough not to need sweetening.  I layered it all up, debating extensively with myself about the absence of jelly.  For me, the jelly in the trifle needs to hold the fruit.  I stuck to the "Rose knows best - the first time round anyways..." rule.  And four days after Christmas I am stuck with a trifle that is more like a genoise cake filled with chiboust cream and strawberries.  The next time I make this I will take a more traditional approach.  A single genoise sponge, spread with tart raspberry jam, a layer of raspberries or strawberries suspended in a homemade berry jelly spiked with some Chambord, then a big layer of chiboust cream topped with the sweetened cream.  There was too much cake in the Rose version.  I think I have learned that Trifle is a very personal thing!

That wraps up my exploits for the past several months.  I don't know if I can promise to be more frequent around these parts.  Truthfully, the tiredness does seem to be abating, so that is promising.  And I guess I will only have a relatively small window before I can't move and my life becomes incomprehensibly chaotic.   So perhaps I should just get baking and blogging while I still can.

Hoping that you enjoyed your festive season (if applicable) and wishing you a New Year of opportunity, happiness and well being.


  1. Oh my goodness.
    Twins give you a free pass--but I think you might as well bake now. Although, on second thought, since you won't be sleeping, you might as well bake.
    Congratulations--love the family photo and hope to see next year's!

  2. I agree with Marie! Wow..Congrats!! :D I think you'll be even more hectic after their birth. Not sure if you can find time to bake even if you are not sleeping though. What a lovely family photo! :D Happy New Year!

  3. Congrats Nicola! You should bake as much as possible now. When the twins arrive, even if you don't sleep, you might be doing (gasp) loads of laundry.

    Beautiful cakes. And I agree with you on the Fudge cake. Though so far in my house, the worst cake prize goes to Spice cake.

  4. "Some days it is unreasonable to expect me to cook dinner when there is perfectly good cake sitting on the bench." Brilliant! Perfect slogan for an apron! Love the picture. How happy you all look! These little twins are very lucky indeed. Can't wait until next year's holiday photo!

  5. Wow, big news! And yes, bake now, for with twins there will be No Time, unless they are so considerate as to operate on the same schedule. Other mothers of twins tell me that this is rare.... :)

  6. ב''ה

    Congrats! I fully support having cake for dinner! :)

  7. You been busy making babies... of course you get a free pass! Congratulations to all of your family on the new arrivals...


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