Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Treat For A Rainy Day

Oh dear me! The weather where we live just now has been so terrible! It has rained nearly all day today. Dark clouds and icy winds haven't helped - it feels as if it is November, not almost May! But we always look forward to rainy Saturdays like this - it means we can all enjoy being cosy at home together!

We had to stop by in the town today, which necessitated catching a bus, as the parking is so difficult (and nearly as expensive as the bus) where we live. It was nice and quiet on the bus and in the shops because of the dreadful weather, which was very nice, and although it poured with rain on the way there, and on the way back, it did not actually rain whilse we were doing our shopping, so it was not nearly as dreadful as we had been expecting! Little Bear and Cubby had one or two items they needed to get (socks - they seem to wear up their socks, past the darning stage, so quickly!) and I wanted to buy some wool so that I could make a couple of gifts for people at Church who have birthdays. They aren't people we know well, but I wanted to make something small and sweet for them, so I am knitting a couple of the funny, characterful chicks that I made at Easter, and adding a few embellishments to them to make them more personal. Home mades gifts are nice to give to someone that you don't know well enough to be sure of their tastes, and because they're unique, they also add a little extra reminder of the people who gave the gift too! Then we enjoyed looking at different things in the shops we had visited before deciding we would far rather be back at home!

I put some potatoes into the oven before we left, set so that they would be cooked when we arrived home from our trip. We had hot taties waiting for us as we walked through the door, and what with them and the scents of some home made granola baking in the slow cooker and the delicious new vanilla candles that Papa Bear bought for me this morning at the supermarket (even in the packaging, the scent was beautiful), our home smelled very welcoming! It was so lovely to have a hot meal almost ready to eat as soon as we had arrived. We had a salad with them with cress that I'd been growing on the windowsill, and lots of other bits and pieces besides, and then this afternoon I did some baking, in between reading, knitting, doing a few chores and - oh, we are excited about this! - working out how to edit the template for our new website, which eventually we hope will be linked to our blog, as a stand-alone resource with lots of features that are currently on the blog at the moment, such as recipes and weekly menu plans, which I haven't had time to update just yet this week - because I've been busy with the website! We have been planning this ever since we started the blog, and with the new Blogger interface being so challenging for us to adjust to, we felt that now was the time to get started on the website! We will keep everyone updated with our progress ...

We don't usually eat dessert during the week unless it's a special occasion. But we do eat it at the weekend, and today everyone decided that a cake was what they wanted! Then of course was the difficulty in deciding which cake to bake! Among the suggestions were coffee walnut, raspberry mallow, lemon ice, cherry, or the one that was the definite favourite - pineapple upside down cake! I think we all felt it would be a very welcome treat during this dreary weather, with its topping of cheerful yellow pineapple rings and bright jaunty cherries like jewels in their centres! A hint perhaps of sunnier days to come? We do hope so!

Please do let me assure you, if you've not ever thought of making a pineapple upside down cake - or if you have, and have been deterred by the idea that it's quite tricky to do - that this is a really easy cake to make - and really delicious to eat too! It's also not expensive either. All it consists of is a basic sponge recipe, which is baked in the usual way in a tin into which you have placed the drained contents of a large can of pineapple rings (or the equivalent of fresh pineapple, which does taste really wonderful). I normally use a cake mix of 8/8/8/4 - that is to say, 8 ounces of sugar, 8 ounces of margarine or butter, 8 ounces of all-purpose flour and 4 eggs. Converted into cups, this translates as ...

1 and 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 cup margarine or butter (I used margarine)
2 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten

Plus also

1 teaspoon vanilla essence
One 14 oz can pineapple rings, drained (or the equivalent of prepared, fresh pineapple, which really does make a difference - and is what I used today, as pineapples were on clearance in the supermarket, so we bought 2).
Enough glace cherries to fill the centres of each pineapple ring.

Prepare the tin first - grease, then line with greaseproof or baking paper. Place the pineapple rings on the top of this, arranging them so the pieces do not overlap. Fill in any gaps with left over segments or cherries, and add a cherry to the centre of each ring.

Preheat your oven to a medium heat (this takes about 35 minutes in our fan oven at 200).

For the cake ...

1. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and margarine or butter until light and fluffy (it will change colour when it is done and become paler).

2. Add the beaten eggs, a tablespoon at a time, and stir in gently. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon or so of flour from the amount you have measured out.

3. Add the vanilla.

4. Sift the flour into the mixture, then fold in lightly. The mixture should have a thick consistency that glides easily, but fairly slowy, off the spoon. If it is too thin, add a little more flour. If it is too thick, loosen with a tablespoon or so of milk.

5. Now put the mixture on top of the pineapple, and bake in the oven until it is lightly browned and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a rack to cool. This cake is lovely eaten warm (as we did!) with soured cream or vanilla ice cream - but it is also delicious cold. You can also make a sauce with the left-over pineapple juice if you have used canned pineapple - simply warm it through with a little arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken, and enjoy! In our home we have even been known to eat this cake for breakfast ... perhaps we will tomorrow!