Friday, 22 March 2013

Herman's progress

Friday 22nd March - This is 'Herman' today. We should have something worth eating by this time next week.

The Ginger Beer Plant

Following on from the blog about the German Friendship Cake, years ago we were given a Ginger Beer Plant. This was looked after as outlined below and you ended up with a slightly alcoholic ginger beer which tasted quite different from the ones we know today.

These are the instructions I was handed at the time but of course I don't have a starter ginger beer plant now,  to try it again.

Ginger Beer Plant
Feed jar daily for 7 days with 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon sugar.
On 8th day - strain liquid through muslin. Dissolve 1 lb sugar in 1 pint boiling water, add another
4 1/2 pints cold water and add strained liquid.
Add juice of 2 lemons
Bottle in screw top bottles to within 2 " of the top
Leave at least 2 weeks before using.
Now scrape the residue fro the muslin into a jar. Add 3/4 pint of cold water and mix well.
Divide into 2 jars
Start feeding these the next day as before.
Plant must be halved each week or it will become too concentrated - Plant has to be divided

I can't remember whether it was the ginger beer or homemade wine that became too vigorous and exploded all over the ceiling!!

This Blog by the Guardian explains more about the ginger beer 'plant'

I never thought about it much at the time but I have discovered it wasn't actually a plant.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Friendship cake

Herman the friendship cake

I was never a fan of chain letters especially those that asked you to send a favourite  recipe to 10 other people, the object being that you in turn would receive new recipes from them. It never happened and I certainly wouldn't take part in any chain which involved money as the only winner was the person who started the chain in the first place!

However what I would describe as the food version of the chain letter - Herman the Friendship Cake is  well followed and passed on for the right reasons and a lot more satisfactory.

The White-ish Glug.....beginnings of Herman...

A month or two ago a friend gave me a jar of white 'glug' - the beginnings of a German Friendship cake. I followed the instructions and made my cake which was enjoyed by the whole family then I passed the starter mixture on to 2 friends and froze some, this is the batch  I am starting off today.
I don't intend going into detail about the process in this blog but for those unfamiliar with 'Herman' there is a mass of information about it on Google follow the link below:

Follow my blog over the next few weeks and see the end 'Herman' once it has been baked.

Next week I will be talking about Ginger Beer Plants!!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Afternoon Tea for Vegans

I hosted  a very successful Afternoon Tea in the stunning dining room at Lennoxlove, Haddington at the weekend but  for the first time High Societeas had to cater for a vegan.
Now coming from a farming background being brought up with sheep, cattle and poultry I can't imagine living any other way. However as a professional caterer my interest was stirred so I started with the Vegan Society website which says-

Vegans choose not to eat anything which is taken from animals, for example:
  • No meat, fish nor other substances that come directly from killing an animal, such as animal fats and gelatine
  • No dairy products such as cows milk, cheese and yogurt; nor goats milk
  • No eggs nor foods containing eggs such as Quorn
  • No honey
So that covers pretty much all of the main ingredients for baking!! -eggs- how will I make cakes rise and add bulk ? without dairy products what will I use to bind ingredients? What will replace butter and margarine?and of course, the burning question..... what will the overall flavour be like?

From years of baking I know exactly what I expect my baking to taste like, how I expect the texture to be and what it should look like, so I have found that I have to look at the end product differently. I can't expect everything to be exactly the same but my aim is to produce  baking for vegans, gluten-free and dairy-free to the same high standard using whatever ingredients are available to suit the dietary needs of my guests - and I enjoy a challenge!!

Sandwiches and Savouries? well thats a whole different issue!
My vegan sandwich for last weekend was...

White bread spread with Vitalite, avocado, humus and cashew nuts

It went down well but I have a lot more research and experimenting to do.