We've been rushing around like mad things for the last week, with our normal routine thrown out of the window. Spare time completely disappeared - or, when I had it, I was too tired to do anything - so I have only been putting basic meals on the table, and have had no time for baking.
In place of my home baked cakes, cookies and desserts, I actually had to buy stuff from the supermarket! The things bought ranged from Tesco's decorated cupcakes at 4 for £1 to Waitrose de-luxe cookies at nearly 50p each. At the bottom end of the market I think the prices are cheaper than baking myself, but the quality is very variable. The decorated cupcakes were all air and no substance, in both the sponge and the buttercream, and they were very sweet too, whereas a chocolate chip brioche at a similar price was delicious, and well worth the money. When you get into the de-luxe ranges, I'm not sure whether it's cheaper to buy or home bake, but the quality is usually better than the cheaper bought goodies, and I'm guessing the price differences are marginal. I think the biggest difference is that the shop bought stuff contains a bit less of the expensive stuff than I'd use at home - less chocolate chunks and nuts in the cookies, for example
Fortunately it's a quieter weekend, with medical duties on hold until Monday, so I had time to bake a shared birthday cake yesterday. I used this recipe from Australian Women's Weekly, for a Chocolate Mud Cake. I used a slightly bigger baking tin, one that was 20cm square, and found the cake cooked in 1 hour and 25 minutes. The ganache split - I have a feeling what the Australians call thickened cream has something like flour or gum in it, which may stabilise it when used in ganache. I managed to rescue my ganache by adding a couple of tablespoons of sifted icing sugar, then beating like a mad thing with a rotary whisk for several minutes. Not sure this would work every time, but it saved the day here! Anyway, the fuss over the ganache meant I didn't use it as suggested in the recipe - I just spread it on top of the cake and threw on what I could find in the way of cake decorations. There wouldn't have been enough candles in town to put on the number needed for the two of us!
Overall, a successful cake, but I wouldn't use the proportions of cream and chocolate given in the ganache recipe again. If I made it for anything other than a birthday celebration I'd probably use a fudge frosting rather than one with fresh cream, but this was one occasion where I thought the CT could forget his diet for a day or two and have a fat laden treat!