This week while reading a few of my favourite blogs I was surprised to read that some these wonderful, talented women (who I look up to) were feeling a little down about their lack of 'hosting' skills. All of these ladies were expressing how they truly wish they could be the sort of person who whips up a cake at a moments notice. The sort of woman who can host and prepare a dinner party in only a few hours.This however was something that eluded them......and always remained a distant ideal in their heads.
I really hate to brag......but I think I am that woman. That kind of hostess skill is my forte. I'm not really sure how it happened, but its just the way I am. After getting up at five a.m, going to work, and doing some food shopping, I can come home and whip up a three course meal for at least five people in about two hours (at most). This I find easy. At any given time that you drop into my house I will have a fresh pot of coffee or tea sitting on the table within minutes along with some cake or cookies. This my friends is just what I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to be perfect,there are many things I can't do in life (read a map, paper work, work out how to use my computer, drive, pick a decent man to date, change a tyre, or remember to shave my legs once a week.....just to give you a few examples) but this is 'my thing.' I'm good at hosting.
So you can understand my surprise this week when I found myself phoning a friend to cancel a dinner party. I was feeling like all the crazy running around I had been doing in the last three weeks had finally caught up on me. I was stressed, cranky, work out.....but mostly tired!
I'd love to tell you that instead of the dinner party I cleaned my house and whipped up a batch of scones, to continue with the domestic theme, but instead I lowered my blinds, crawled under my blankets, ate chocolate, and watched movies in bed all day.It was bliss.
Why am I telling you this? Usually I like to keep the appearance that everything is under control. When life is falling apart I just bake a cake, and slap on a smile........but at the moment I'm leaning its ok to just stop, and not try to do EVERYTHING.
Because lets be honest, it doesn't really matter how wonderful everything looks around you, if your'e not being real with people there is no point in serving them cake, there is no point in inviting them around, and there is no point in being a host. The most important thing, is that we make people feel loved, and sometimes in order to do that we have to take some time to love ourselves (and go back to bed for the day.)
So that's exactly what I did.......and then the next day I got up and made a cake and some cookies, for my friends birthday, packed it up in a box and took it to her house to celebrate.....and be real.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting
(This cake recipe is adapted from Donna Hay's 'No Time To Cook' cook book. I made a double batch for this cake though.....I've just listed the single batch.)
- 350g dark chocolate
- 185g of unsalted butter, chopped
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of coffee (I just brew some really strong in my plunger, but if your fancy and have a machine use a few shots.)
- 1 cup of almond meal
(From Taste.com.au web sight)
- 250g butter at room temperature
- 100g brown sugar
- 2tbs of golden syrup
- 1 tbs of milk
1. In a pot melt together the butter and chocolate on a low heat. Stir continually.
2. Once the butter and chocolate are melted, take the pot of the stove and stir in the coffee, sugar and almond meal.
3. Whisk together the eggs, and whisk into the cake mixture(make sure the mix is off the heat so that the eggs don't scramble.) Mix the cake together until there are no lumps.
5. Pour the batter into a greased and lined cake tin, and place in a preheated oven at 170. Cook for 45 mins -1hour, checking from time to time. Check the cake by sticking a squire into the middle, if it comes out dry the cake is ready.
6. Let the cake cool on the bench for 20 minutes, and then transfer it to the fridge (this is something I always did with this cake because I ran out of time to cool and then frost it......but then i found that, it actually worked better this way, as the cake sweats in the fridge, and instead of forming a crispy surface, becomes moist and soft.
7. To make the frosting, cream together the butter and sugar for 7 minutes or until lighter in colour. Add the syrup and milk and whisk for an addition minute.
8. Cut the cake in half, and spread one layer with frosting. Place the second half on top and also spread with frosting.
9. Pile on anything pretty you want. I used candied nuts, and fruit....but you can use anything you like. Sometimes I just use fresh flowers to decorate my cakes, and it looks lovely.