Kitchen Disaster Zone

Last weekend everything I touched in the kitchen turned out to be a disaster.  Where to start?  I’ll start with my cake.  I have a carrot mountain to scale so thought I’d help things out by making a carrot cake.  I bought the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook years ago but I’ve never made anything from it.  I’ve sat for many a happy while at the table oohhing and aahhhing at the pictures but I’ve never delved into a recipe.  Their carrot cake looks amazing, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

First up it’s an absolute whopper, three tiers.  Now this is new territory already.  Baking it was fine and making the icing was fine too so it wasn’t a total disaster, however putting the thing together was not so successful.  I made the error of making the icing and leaving it in the warm kitchen (Sunday dinner was being cooked) until it was required.  I’ll cut to the chase.  My elegant cake that I imagined would grace the Sunday tea table looked like this

Doesn’t look too bad but there are three adults just to the right of the cake out of shot shouldering the burden of keeping this bad boy upright
I had chosen a pretty cake stand to put it on but as it started to resemble the abominable snowman  that had fallen headfirst into a gravel pit, I had to resort to the weighty cheese board.  I think that the china would have suffered irreparably had I have placed this cake’s sheer bulk on it.  The icing was so runny that I had to keep propping the behemoth of a cake up to stop the three tiers from heading to the kitchen floor like a triple limp frisbee.  ‘Leave the cake to me’ I had confidently stated on Saturday night (we had 6 extra people over for food on Sunday.)  If we hadn’t had a table full of guests then I would have put the icing in the fridge for a while, and I think it would have been fine, but I didn’t have time.

All was not lost, despite it’s appearance the cake actually tasted really, really good.  It was polished off on Sunday (hopefully because it was nice rather than out of good manners) so it wasn’t a total disaster but I sliced it far away from the table before it completely collapsed.

The second disaster was completely inedible.  For ages now I’ve wanted to make marshmallows using a veggie alternative to gelatine but haven’t found a recipe.  I found some Veggie Gel recently so gamely thought I’d tackle Hugh F-W’s recipe as seen in his Family Cookbook.  My children were so excited, I imagined us sitting around the fire toasting them that evening and everyone basking in the glow of my domestic wonderfulness.

A couple of things went wrong.  I don’t own a sugar thermometer, Hugh was insisting on very specific temperatures for boiling the sugar and looking at the molten bubbles, nodding and saying, ‘hmmm, that looks really hot now’ may not have been accurate enough.  Secondly I just don’t have a clue.  They were my two downfalls.  The result was two pans of what can only be described as not very good meringue mixture before it’s cooked.  On the plus side they smelt lovely; I had optimistically flavoured one with vanilla and the other with rose essence.  On the downside I now have worktops and a hob that look like Jackson Pollock’s been at them with white acrylics.  Three days in and the welded on white blobs are showing no sign of budging.  Had I have attempted going anywhere near an open flame with this mass of wobbly disaster I think I’d have caused a scene to rival Gandalf’s firework display in the Lord of the Rings.

So there you have it, the view from my table this weekend was pretty bleak. Does anybody out there have a recipe for vegetarian marshmallows?  Happy to purchase a sugar thermometer!



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