Monday, 9 May 2011


I despair!

Over the years I've always been drawn to the appeal of madelines...or rather
the tins in which they are baked. The shell-like pattern is what defines the madelines from other cakes. (Also the use of melted butter - melted to the point of just browning that adds to the distinct flavor). But for me, it's mainly to do with the baking tins.

I confess, I love baking tins - I'm slightly obsessed with them. At any given opportunity I will amble into a kitchen shop and peruse their collection of tins in quiet contemplation. Ah yes, as I pick them up be it a muffin or bundt tin, I'll think of recipes that I've come across and how lovely they would look in said tin. My tenderly holding them has led to some sales assistant sauntering over and asking me if I need any help. No thank-you, my gentle caress of the tin doesn't mean I want to pilfer the thing!

Not that I'm some sort of strange person that needs psychiatric help to understand why I love baking tins. I won't be appearing on an edition of Taboo or anything like that (Taboo for those who have not seen the program is about people who have strange loves; like a man who likes being dressed up as a baby or a woman that's in love with an object, which is a wall I believe). It's just a healthy appreciation.

So whilst visiting Williams & Sonoma (anyone not knowing what the shop is about, you must pay a visit to their site. They have the most divine things for all kitchen/dining related items. Pricey, but my piece of heaven on earth!) Anyway, I sauntered over to the baking section and whilst I mulled over how much use I'd get from the Star Wars pancake moulds I spotted the madeline tin. Now, I have one back in the UK; unfortunately, it's neatly packed away metaphorically gathering dust in storage. So my dilemma - should I get another one? The last time I baked said cake, they didn't turn out the way I expected. To say they were a little dry and 'heavy' was an understatement!

As I contemplated whether to buy or not, I noticed that they had a mini version. It looked so damn cute that my failure hurtled to the back of my mind as I reached for the shiny metal object. Ahh yes, I have a home you my mini madeline tin.

Fast forward to my day to bake. I looked in my cookery books for a good recipe with doubt settling in quickly about how good they'll turn out. Now the US don't really do 'self-raising' flour; they do 'self-rising' which to me is the same thing, but they mainly use 'all purpose' flour to which you add baking powder/soda/helium - anything to make the cake light. But they also have 'cake flour' - which I used for this recipe. I promise I followed the method and although it said to use self-raising/rising I thought cake flour should suffice - wouldn't it? But maybe there is a huge difference in cake flour and self raising? Back in ol' Blighty I used sponge flour for all my cakes to no ill effect - Lord I miss McDougalls!!

Cutting this saga short, I baked 32 mini madelines and were they light and fluffy? About as light and fluffy as a hippo on a tightrope.

The recipe that I used advised: "best eaten on the day made - except if you're Shalini, in which case, give up all hope and find another use for your madeline tin".

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Location:Chauncy St,Cambridge,United States

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Starbucks, Apple & A Good Idea

Forgive the interruption in service. There really is no excuse for not making regular posts. But, being a new 1950s housewife is very time consuming ahem...

So, where was I? Ah yes...

...Hubby has hit upon a brilliant idea. Whilst passing by (my beloved) Starbucks, we looked in to see if there was any room. Alas, on a Saturday afternoon, it's nigh on impossible to find room for one, let alone two people.

I suggested to Hubby that we loiter and stare at people so those sitting with empty cups and half eaten brownies will feel guilty and vacate their seat/table. Admittedly, I lack the courage to actually carry that 'threat' out, so we stood for a moment contemplating where to go for a cup of java.

Whilst standing there, Hubby surveyed the tables. And smiled, "you know", he said to me "Apple needs to open up a 'Genius Bar' here...or at the very least PC World should sponsor this place. Actually make that Best Buys."

Brilliant idea! Each time I enter SB, I don't see tables laden with used paper cups or crumbs from a devoured coffee cake, but rather laptops, i-pods, and i-phones. With the amount of Apple laptops that adorn the front window benches, a Genius Bar would do very well. How many essays, thesis' or notes have disappeared or a web page not loaded properly? Their frustration would be resolved in an instant. But, would having a Genius Bar encourage folk to stay even longer and therefore deprive me from leaving crumbs of coffee cake behind?

Still, I reckon Hubby is onto something - I should get in touch with Apple & SB to suggest the idea...and obviously get some sort of compensation...

My Hubby, not just a handsome bloke

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