High Tea in West Footscray

A lovely birthday, Food stuff, Interesting people

This post has been delayed because I am still catching up from my technical difficulties a few weeks ago… there’s still a few to follow in a non-linear fashion.

We decided to have a high tea with my family to conclude the festivities of my birthday week. It gets more and more difficult to get everyone in my family together (especially as some live overseas), and so it was wonderful that so many were able to come.  It was only right and proper that there be plentiful tea, sandwiches and cake. It was quite a success, even if I do say so myself!

Greg used the interweb to learn how to turn plates from the op shop into glamorous tiered displays. Easy to take apart and store as well, although the drill bit is very blunt now. His handiwork was much admired and he is a man-for-all-seasons (or something).

I was able to put my new KitchenAid pleasingly through its paces. We had mud cake, scones, savoury puffs and pikelets, sandwiches, flourless orange cupcakes, vegan flapjacks, and biscuits. I’m probably forgetting something, and then people also brought more food. Including some yummy, but quite frankly quite confronting, age-appropriate biscuits made by Nat and Josh (no elegant obfuscation of my real age!).

Len and Judy came down early to help make crustless sandwiches and other organisational support. Judy had made a wonderful fruitcake (she is known for this in our family), iced with stylish minimalism.

We had the immediate Taylors (besides Matt and Suzanné in England who had held a parallel tea party in my honour on my actual birthday), Taylor/Strijder Aunts and Uncles, cousins and a group of Iretons as well.  Greg and I did observe that it is on occasions such as these we see the opposite nature of our families. The Taylors are very loud, eat a lot and could be confused with the Paparazzi. The Iretons are not loud, don’t eat as much, and never seem to take photos. Having said that, we all get on famously! This is a large number of people to cosy (cram!) into our little house (I think around 24), but fit we did (people are happy to be cosy in if not for too many hours, there is a point at which it shifts most noticeably to crammed).

Rather excitingly, it was also the first party that baby Isabelle has attended – so I am quite honoured. She certainly provided the Taylors with more reason to get snapping with their cameras. In addition to several nieces and nephews running around and having adventures and who are very used to ignoring adults with camersa. Josh brought a Polaroid camera along which added further interest to the afternoon.

Another tradition in the Taylor family is over-catering. We eat a lot, and you don’t want to under-cater (disaster!). So many of my guests took goody bags away with them and my workplace also enjoyed left over cake for a number of days.

An experiment in clotted cream

Food stuff

I had a couple of attempts recently at making clotted cream. Not something readily available here in Australia. Have read of others giving it a go a go and so thought I would have a go too.

I read a few recipes online. For example, this entry on the Cupcake Project blog and this one on the Joe Pastry blog.

The basic idea seems to be that you cook normal cream at a low temperature for a long time, the liquid evaporates and you have a much thicker, richer cream.

I tried it one weekend with a ‘normal‘ 700ml bottle of thickened cream from the supermarket. I cooked it overnight for 12 hours on about 80 degrees.

It seemed to work quite well – with a really thick, caramelised layer on the top. We tried it immediately on some fresh scones and it was yum. Not exactly like clotted cream that you get in England, but good.

A week later, I had some people coming for afternoon tea and I thought I’d impress them with some fresh clotted cream. I bought a container of the posh cream that is really thick and is much more expensive than thickened cream (and it has a much higher fat content). I thought that this would make for a really clotted batch of clotted cream. I baked it for 12 hours as I’d done before. This was a complete disaster! It became thinner, although did separate into layers, and I couldn’t use it. I ended up using it in a cake recipe so that I didn’t waste it. Weird!