Forget about spring – we’ve just had our summer.
Going by the last couple of years, this weekend was probably it, but it was lovely. I spent much of it outside playing ponies, plus meals out on Friday and Saturday nights – and lots of work to try to minimise the deadline Tuesday after a bank holiday Monday stress - which was partially successful
It’s amazing to see how fast everything’s reacted to some warmth at last; greenness everywhere, blossom appearing on every other tree, country lanes seeming half the width because of the growth of the hedgerows and verges. May and June are my favourite time of year.
But to go back to my post title, I went to my first spin class last week.
The gym near me has changed hands and the new owners have canned the Monday night zumba, which I’d been going to every week, and replaced it with spinning. A friend of mine had just started coming to zumba and we agreed we’d try spin instead; although I was slightly worried I’d end up collapsing in a knackered heap halfway through.
I enjoyed it though, in an I think I’m going to pass out-type way. You get into the rhythm of it, although it’s disconcerting to have the instructor bawling “Turn the resistance UP!” or I said FLAT OUT!” every other minute
My legs felt like chewed string afterwards but didn’t ache the next day at all – and it beats zumba into a cocked hat in terms of exercise! I’m definitely going back.
As far as the other bit of the post title goes, there’s been lots of baking.
There were two recipes in a book I’ve got that I had my eye on so I tried the first, a pecan, chocolate and caramel cake, for my best friend’s birthday last week. Unfortunately, it sounded a lot better than it was. So instead, I made a basic sponge cake, using brown instead of caster sugar, and folded in some milk, dark and white chocolate chips. I dolloped half the mixture into my fancy ring tin, spread on a layer of dulce de leche bought for the original cake, then put the rest of the mixture on top. I baked it for 40-ish minutes at 160C, then topped it off with my caramel icing.
Please ignore the slight collapse, probably owing either to my putting the caramel layer too near the top of the cake/bottom of the tin or to my being impatient and taking it out of said tin too early – schoolboy error
The second recipe I liked the look of was a white chocolate and raspberry cake but when I came to make it for a girl at work’s birthday, I realised I didn’t have all the ingredients. I ended up making another sponge, but replacing half the butter with melted white chocolate, folding in about 110g chopped white chocolate and 75g chopped toasted hazelnuts and baking in two ring tins at 180C for 20 minutes.
Inspired by the roasted raspberries in the batter of the original recipe, I drizzled 1tbsp agave over 100g fresh raspberries and roasted them for about 20 minutes at 180C, till soft, then drained off the juice and used them to fill the cake. I also filled and iced it with buttercream made with 50g butter, 35g (light) Philadelphia, 25g melted white chocolate and 170g sieved icing sugar.
Neither cake was my finest hour in terms of not-falling-apartness but, although I says it as shouldn’t, both were delicious. Chocolate and caramel is always a winner and so is white chocolate and hazelnut – add the tangy raspberries to the latter and it’s a match made in heaven. In my humble opinion
But, of course, having sampled both cakes and toppings at every point along the way, I now feel the need for another few spin classes…