In 2012 Big Sis and I decided to throw Mum a 1940s themed party for her birthday.
Most of the invitations were sent electronically – to set the tone we created a video in the style of a Pathe Newsreel…making that was great fun. For those who needed a paper invitation I edited a wartime ‘Careless Talk’ poster and printed them onto postcards with the information on the back (they were sent in envelopes…I didn’t think we really needed the entire mailing system knowing where the party would be 😉 )
We kept the decorations simple with home made bunting; we encouraged guests to dress up and played music from the era.Dressing up the clothes and dressing down the food:
With a make do and mend’ attitude, guests sourced outfits from charity shops and made creative alterations to existing clothes.
The food was kept low key and old fashioned, served on mismatched plates and trays – devilled eggs, sandwiches, coronation chicken, potato salad, pickles and pies…not strictly 1940s food, but I couldn’t bring myself to serve up Woolton pie and spam fritters.For Mum’s birthday cake I used my ever improving chocolate cake recipe to create this chocolate and strawberry box cake. The panels were made from tempered chocolate spread onto transfer sheets. The cake was filled with fresh cream and strawberries and covered with lightly whipped chocolate ganache. The panels were then (very carefully) applied and the whole thing topped off with a heap of fresh strawberries and the all important birthday candles.
During the early years of gluten free baking experimentation I was frequently curtailed by lack of funding. By choosing to go to university I’d cut our household income in half, and it seemed a bit like taking the piss to spend too large a proportion of the tiny amount left over on cake ingredients. For cakes that might not even work out that well.
I was also curtailed by time. I set myself the target of a First, and I’m proud to say I earned it. However, that involved sacrificing just about everything else in my life in order to study. When I signed up it was 22 years since I’d last been in the education system…I had to work for those marks! So, that meant that most of the baking done during the study years was within the confines of the summer break.
All of this meant that progress was a bit stop/start but whenever I could I was being brave and getting stuck in – trying out new things, learning and improving techniques.
Getting chocolate cake right was high on the list of priorities. This Black Forest Gateau was for Barn’s 2011 birthday. Given that my husband’s such a fan of the 70s (I know! Bizarre or what?!), I decided to do a 70s style menu…prawn cocktail, steak ‘n’ chips plus the gateau.
There’s some whacking great bubble holes in that beast, but I was really getting there with the general flavour and texture.