I don’tend to do much baking on a Monday. Monday’s for me are a day to catch up; I’ve normally spent the weekend working hard at events with my pizza company so household duties tend to take second place. Cleaning, washing, ironing, general admin and emails usually fill the whole day (I know, the excitement 😉 ) however on this Monday the urge to bake something beautiful had me clearing my schedule, it all could wait for a day. I felt as though black clouds had surrounded the past week and I needed to escape for a few hours. While my hands were busy measuring, mixing and decorating my mind could rest for a while.
Life is full of ups and downs, regardless of the state of your mental health there will be periods of joy and adversity. How we handle these are what shapes our character and defines us as people. Sometimes it will be the people around us who are facing great misfortune and often there’s little you can do to ease their suffering. This can leave you feeling powerless, frustrated and angry and it’s very easy to let those emotions take over, however this doesn’t help anyone.
Although we can’t always fix others problems and make everything ok we can practice kindness, compassion and sympathy. We can offer a hand or a hug, a small gesture to help bring a smile to a loved one or a shoulder to cry on. Most importantly we can remain positive, be strong and believe that things will be better. We can’t predict the future but we can remain optimistic and try and keep a sense of calm, there are positives in every situation, even if you have to search incredibly hard for them they will be there. Often misfortune will show you just how loved you are and how many people are there to help and that is a massive positive in itself.
Cooking is a great way for me to keep calm and positive. If I can create something beautiful when times get challenging then it helps to restore my inner equilibrium. It reminds me and helps me to focus on the now, to live in the moment and enjoy something without worrying about the future.
I wanted to make something light, pretty and summery to not only lift my mood but also others around me, what could be better than a beautiful pink cake! There’s always time for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. Time to sit, regroup and rest for a few minutes and hopefully you’ll be feeling ready to keep going and remain positive afterwards.
Whether you love to bake, sing, meditate, dance or exercise your mindfulness activity is a brilliant way to channel any anxiety and stop negativity from building up. Take a positive action before you find yourself desperately seeking a negative coping mechanism. So if like me you feel the need to relax and take your mind away from stress have a go at this beautiful cake, believe me it tastes as good as it looks! Have a great week everyone and keep smiling!
‘Eton Mess’ Naked Cake
480g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
250g caster sugar
115g butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
150g pureed strawberries
250g strawberry yogurt
60ml condensed milk
FOR THE FILLING
500g icing sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
2-3 tbsp milk
Meringue kisses, strawberries,
Heat oven to 180C/160 C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the bases of 3 x 7 inch/18cm springform tins.
For the cake combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Beat the butter and sugar using electric beaters until pale and fluffy. Add the egg mixture a few drops at a time beating well between each addition. Now add the puree, yogurt and condensed milk and mix until combined.
Fold in the dry ingredients using a large metal spoon until evenly combined.
Divide between the prepared tins, if you weigh the amounts the layers will be more even, you need about g in each of the tins. Cook for 25-30 minutes until risen and springy to the touch, check with a skewer it should come out clean. Remove and leave to cool completely in the tins before carefully removing. If not icing straight away wrap in cling film until you need them.
Make the buttercream; mash the butter and the icing sugar together in a large bowl; this will stop your kitchen being sprayed with a cloud of icing sugar. Once mashed beat with electric mixers until pale and fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and beat for about 45 seconds more. Transfer to a piping bag.
Use a small blob of icing to stick the bottom layer or cake to a small cake board. Spoon a couple of tsp of jam onto the cake and spread out but leave a border around the edge so the jam doesn’t spill out. Next pipe a generous layer of buttercream all over the cake. Put the next layer on top and repeat.
Finish with your flattest surface on top. Cover with buttercream then pipe a little more into the middle of the layers. Next, use a small offset spatula to add a thin layer of whipped cream to the sides of the cake. Don’t completely cover the cake layers as they are suppose to still be visible. Decorate with your chosen topping, try flowers, strawberries, meringue kisses or sweets.