three little puddings

we are hosting a quiz night at our tennis club to raise funds. as usual i offer to make dessert. i have been baking for the club basically since i joined last year. when you live in a household of two and you have a baking compulsion the situation can quickly become dangerous…i mean new wardrobe dangerous. with the tennis club i have a group of enthusiastic, quick-to-compliment friends who devour anything i bake. it’s great for my ego and its good for their blood sugar levels. win win.

i am now undertaking the task of baking dessert for 42 ppl. i have done this before. you’d think i would have learned by now. in truth i should ask for help but i get this vision in my head of what i want it to be and i can’t bare to dictate terms to someone who is volunteering and yet at the same time i can’t let go of my vision. i do it to myself…i do…that’s why it really hurts :p

anyhooo winter is upon us so i’ve decided that some nice warm puddings would be best. i’m going with a self-saucing chocolate pudding (snowflake book of baking), a malva pudding (a friend sent me a photo of her recipe, i have no info on the source) and revani which is a greek/turkish orange semolina cake doused in syrup (this recipe is from souvlaki for the soul).

the revani i made once before for a dinner with the neighbours. one of the guests who was doing the cooking is turkish so i  thought i’d honour him with a traditional dessert. it took a week of research before i found a recipe i felt comfortable with. many of the revani recipes i found used oil instead of butter. eventually i found one that used butter. in truth that probably makes it less traditional but i’m ok with that.

so my first conundrum is that i need to produce these three puddings in one day and i need them to be reasonably warm at serving. i think it might be better  to bake the self-saucing chocolate pudding first because i have a suspicion that this one will be the easiest to reheat. or will it? i should maybe check if i can borrow some oven time from the neighbour.

when i chat to my neighbour about oven space she recommends that i bake the revani the day before. she thinks it tastes better the day after once all the flavours get  a chance to chill out together. i go with her suggestion. it will also make things easier on saturday. the revani is straight forward.

start by making the syrup as directed. you can finely zest the orange or you can use a potato peeler to get larger strips. i strain the syrup so the finer zest is not a problem.

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v is for very tasty

v is for very tasty

i add the juice of one of the zested oranges to the syrup and the juice of the other to the cake. the cake batter doesn’t call for any wet ingredients…mostly because six eggs go into the batter. i was however skeptical because i know semolina absorbs moisture as it cooks.

achin' for some bakin'

achin’ for some bakin’

when the revani is baked i cut it into diamonds and pour the partly cooled syrup over it. the first time i baked the revani i didn’t cut it first. this resulted in the syrup pooling around the edges and very poor distribution in the middle i.e dry middle, soggy edges. i toasted some flaked almonds and sprinkled them over the top.

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one pudding down, two to go.

the load shedding schedule got us out the house and down to the labia to watch mad max fury road.  longest car chase scene EVER! i enjoyed it but bear was looking for the mad max movie of days gone by. i remember the first mad max and being slightly traumatised by how graphic and violent it was. this new one was a disney version by comparison but still entertaining.

got home and popped a pound cake in the oven for my friend lucy. i wanted to test if people would be keen on cake that wasn’t covered in icing. as i’ve said before the pound cake tastes good on it own but most of the time people eat with their eyes and prettiness seems to sell. i approached lucy to conduct my little experiment and she was happy to help. lucy runs the lucy’s pop-up tea garden stall which you can find at the city market. its my favourite saturday morning breakfast. scones with clotted cream and jam with tea served in beautiful china tea sets. such charm and elegance in a rustic setting. i love it!

so saturday rolls around. i’m itching to get going but i have to wait till the afternoon to bake. i’ve had a think and i’ve decided that the chocolate pudding should actually be baked last. at half past three i get going on the malva. i need to make a double recipe but start making a single recipe by mistake. urgh!

fortunately i realise my error early and am able to rectify it. when doing a double recipe its helpful to write down the doubled-up quantities on the recipe. that way you won’t get confused. the malva cake is simple but uses some interesting ingredients like apricot jam, vinegar and cream. the batter is very runny after adding half a litre of a milk and cream mixture. from what i can gather from making cakes, runny batters give you a light sponge which is usually quite airy but prone to drying out. denser sponges will taste more buttery. since you douse the malva in syrup a light sponge will be thirstier and hence better conditioned to soaking up all that syrup. well that’s my story and i’m sticking to it.

the revani was a dense batter which is why you had to cut it to help the syrup soak in. with the malva you simply pour the syrup over cake and the syrup magically disappears. there is no distribution issue, the cake is uniformly syruped. science…and other forms of voodoo magic.

on a side note, making the malva syrup will make you want to go into cardiac arrest. half a litre of milk and cream mix, 320g of butter and two cups of sugar! i feel my arteries clogging up already. but do me a favour, have a small piece anyway. it’s worth it.

should have used a flash

should have used a flash

its half past five and the quiz night starts at seven. i have one more pudding to bake and i still need to clean the kitchen and make myself presentable. i get cracking on the chocolate pudding while my neighbour tells me about a wedding she attended the day before. i love it when people chat to me while i’m busy in the kitchen. growing up we had a huge kitchen that was always filled with people. invariably at any family gathering the party would happen in the kitchen so you never ended up cooking alone. we’d have everything set up in the lounge but no matter what everyone would gravitate to the kitchen. for me it’s natural for cooking and baking to be a very social activity so i’m happy to have someone to chat to as i make the final pudding.

now the reason i decided to make the chocolate pudding last is that it is the only one of the three puddings that you don’t douse in syrup after its baked. that’s cos you douse it in syrup before it’s baked. i was fifteen the first time i baked this pudding. i made the batter as directed. its basically a normal chocolate cake batter but with three teaspoons of baking powder per cup of flour. this is a pretty high ratio if you consider that self-raising flour is two teaspoons per cup. once the batter is ready you make a chocolate syrup. i add about a tablespoon of extra cocoa to the cake batter and the syrup.

once the syrup comes to boil you simply pour it over the batter. but that can’t be right. i now have a baking dish with a layer of syrup and bits of batter floating about ( really should have taken a pic for you guys but i was on the clock and the i just couldn’t break my rhythm). the first time you can’t help but be skeptical but have faith little ones. as the pudding bakes the batter, which miraculously does not dissolve in the syrup (dissolve is not the right word but you know what i mean) actually pushes through the syrup resulting in a sponge top with a decadently gooey syrup underneath. people are usually enthralled by the secret gooey layer lying in wait underneath. so i baked it last because the sponge on top might dry out if you had to warm it up in the oven for too long (i am helluva long-winded…forgive me).

how do it work?

how do it work?

so three puddings done. i decant the woolies custard that i bought in to a nice bowl to be reheated at the club ( i could have made my own but i was not in the mood to find interesting ways to dispose of eight eggs whites. after this stint i’m hoping not to bake for atleast four or five days). i did the same with the double cream.

so custard for the malva pudding. cream for the revani (the custard clouds the clove and cinnamon) and cream for the chocolate pudding. i let people choose what they want but those combos would be my recommendation. i get some friends to help me carry dessert down to the club. its a 5 minute walk but i’m really warm by the end of it since since i’m carrying the still-hot chocolate pudding.

i give the puddings five minutes in the oven before serving.

dessert went down a treat. the malva was incredibly gooey…sheer delight. the revani spiciness provided a nice variety and the sponge had  nice nuttiness from the almond flour and semolina (the semolina doesn’t soften completely in the baking process but this is great for the texture). The clove and orange combo worked well with the colder temperatures.  our team also came out second in the quiz. all in all a good night.

i dropped off the leftovers with my neighbour who was hosting a eurovision party. hopefully her guests have demolished what was left because right now i feel like if never see another malva it’ll be too soon. baking overload will do that to you. its kinda like binge drinking. the day after you’re all, “never again!”, but next weekend you’ll be back at the bar.

lessons learnt: different types of sponges behave differently based on the runnyness of the batter. even though all the desserts i made had a sponge and syrup component they were each very distinct in texture. it’s interesting how simple adjustments in ratios and method give you different outcomes.

additional note: apologies for the lack of photos. i’ll do better next time.

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