Christening the stand mixer

I’ve been a bit lax, haven’t I?

Not at baking, so much, but at writing about it. I’ve been applying for jobs, and playing lots of Mass Effect 3, and also being really ill, so that accounts for most of it.

I’ve been making more stuff, though. I made some lavender shortbread. I made the New Zealand delicacy Lolly Cake (cut up foam sweets, crushed up biscuits, melted butter and condensed milk, rolled in coconut).

And the, for my birthday, I got a stand mixer from my flatmate. Hurrah!

The first thing I made with it was a sponge cake. Well, the first thing I made was a failure, because even a stand mixer can’t apparently handle chilled butter like I thought it could. So after I scraped out the bowl and cleaned it all off and started again with some softened butter, I made a sponge cake. It was … well, it made a huge difference. The butter and sugar mix really did get fluffy, and stayed thus once the flour was in. So there was just *more* cake. The mixer was also great for the buttercream icing.

I tried to be a bit inventive and wasn’t entirely successful. I was going for a green tea frosting, but I just brewed some very strong tea and mixed it in once it was cool. It didn’t really work, becase it made it way too liquidy, which I then had to compensate for with more butter and sugar. It stiffened, but it wasn’t really ideal. The maple frosting from the other week worked a lot better. Also, in the bowl it had a definite green tea taste that wasn’t really present in the cake.

It was still tasty. And the sponge was super-light. It looked like this:

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Not my finest hour, I’m sure we can all agree.

Then I made some bread. I thought I’d be adventurous, (well, for a given value of adventurous) so I went for half white flour, half wholemeal. I love making bread, but confess I’m just not good at pulling the dough together in the first place. It ends up bitty, or too wet, or ragged. The dough hook took care of that for me in about six seconds. At that point I wasn’t too sure if I should then keep the hook going or grab the dough and knead. I ended up doing a bit of both, which probably wasn’t ideal.

My flat suffers from a glaring absence of suitable places to prove dough. So my bread’s never as good as I feel it could be if I had an airing cupboard or some other cozy little nook. Anyway. The bread was decent enough. It looked like this.

 

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Because for some reason I thought I’d be ‘rustic’ rather than just use a loaf tin like a normal person.

I did, however, use the loaf tin to make banana bread. There are obviously a thousand thousand recipes for banana bread, but I found a pretty simple one that was low on butter and sugar, and fairly high on flour. And REALLY high on bananas. Like, 500 g of bananas. That’s more than all the other dry ingredients combined. I did half and half with the flour again, because why not. And threw in some vanilla extract, because why not. And threw some sliced almonds on top, because why not. But I also learned that even when using over-ripe bananas deliberately, there are some bananas that you do NOT want to use. A banana should not be of feathery consistency.

The stand mixer was a total boon, because the recipes are all ‘mashed bananas’ and I’m all ‘screw that, the machine can deal with it’. And it did. It got a far more thorough mix than I could have done by hand.

And it looked like this:

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It was very well received. And it’s nice to have something to make that’s ‘puddingy’ but not obscenely bad for you, because the stuff I’ve mostly been making tends towards the ‘butter, sugar, butter, flour, butter and MOAR BUTTER’ end of the spectrum.

So yes, that’s what I’ve been up to. Nothing too adventurous, but keeping my hand in.

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