The Therapy of baking: Fudge

I recently bumbled on about the splendid TV entertainment that is The Great British bakeoff. I love it! I wouldn’t take part in it for a squillion quid, way too much pressure, but I love to sit on my pressure-free sofa and watch it. It made me want to try and bake everything they were baking. They made it look so easy. Ish.

I have loved to bake since I was little. When I was a young teenager, my parents would often come into the kitchen and find a cake resting on the cooling rack. I can’t say I’m a tidy baker. On the contrary. I openly confess I am incredibly messy in the kitchen. Drives the husband potty. But he gets yummy treats to eat so it all balances out.

So, inspired by The Bakeoff I was. And since I’ve been most comfortable standing recently, thanks to my stupid sciatic nerve, it’s been a pretty good way to pass the time. And so far, (possibly speaking too soon) I’ve not had any culinary disasters. So this week I’m going to share some yummy and easy recipes.

First up….Fudge.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been a massive fan of fudge. When I thought of fudge I’d think of that rubbery sickly stuff that tastes of artificial nothingness. But this stuff….Oh this stuff. It’s crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth, gotta-have-another-piece delicious. Honestly, try it and then I’ll be your hero for bringing it into your life.

You’ll need:
397g can Carnation Condensed Milk
150ml (┬╝pt) milk
450g (1lb) demerara sugar
115g (4oz) butter

A few things first. I used Condensed milk light. Therefore I consider this fudge pretty much a health food. It is also important to use proper butter, not the low fat spread rubbish. And it’s totally ok because you used Carnation light. Here’s how I make it.

1. Choose a good CD and have it to hand.

2. Bung all the ingredients in a pan and put a dead low heat on. Stir. Keep stirring. You don’t want any sugar to stick to the bottom and burn. That would make for awful fudge.

3. After a few minutes the sugar should have dissolved. You know when it has because it looks all smooth and glossy. Keep stirring. Turn the heat up a titchy bit. Are you still stirring?

3. At this point you might be a bit fed up of stirring. Put your CD on and have a bop to your selected tunes. But the dancing must involve stirring. STIR! The mixture will start bubbling soon.

4. Let the mixture bubble away for about ten minutes. Is your arm aching yet? it should be. But don’t think the worst is done, they is way more stirring to come.

5. When the fudge mixture has started to look like frothy lava, give it another couple of minutes and then do this cool test, which should tell you when it’s cooked enough. Drop a bit of it into a glass of dead cold water. If it forms a soft ball, you’re onto a winner. If it kind of flops to the bottom of the glass in a mess, keep it on the heat for a little while longer and then try again.

6. Take the pan off the heat. Now go mental beating the life out of the mixture. Seriously, make it therapuetic. Missed the gym this week? Give it welly with a wooden spoon. When you think you can’t possibly stir it anymore, you need to stir it for about five minutes after that.

7. The mixture will turn from a shiny runny liquid, to a matt, almost paste-like consitency. If you can pour it into the tray, You’ve not beaten it enough. What you’ll get is a really smooth fudge that doesn’t quite set properly. And you don’t want smooth. You want crumbly.

8. Oh yeah, you’ll need a tray. Cover it in baking paper. Jobs a good’n.

9. Spoon the fudge into the lined tray, and pat it down nice and even. Let it cool and when it is cool, bob it in the fridge.

10. After half an hour or so, take out the tray, slice up the fudge and try not to eat it all in one sitting.

Voila!

I’d have put a photo of the fudge up but it didn’t last long enough to get my camera out.

The canny thing about this fidge is, you can totally put your own stamp on it, when you take it off the heat and beat it to within an inch of its life, you can add all kinds of wonderful yummies. Raisins, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, nuts. For christmas I’m going to make a load of Baileys Fudge. I’m salivating already.

patience is a virtue???

I’ve spent the last 28 years taking my bum for granted. I never fully appreciated what it’s like to sit down pain-free. I now vow to cherish my padded posterior to the end of my days.

The cocktail of medication has finally started to work, so hopefully I’m on the mend. The past two weeks I have kept myself sane by:

1. Watching two box sets of Desperate Housewives. How did this show slip through my fingers this past decade??? Those women have made a lifelong friend in me. Yes, I know it’s not real…

2. Baking cakes and cookies and fresh bread and icecream. I’ve not been eating much at all so the extra calories won’t do much harm, right?

3. enjoying (prescription!) drug induced sleep.

Now I’m a little better my mind has returned to getting a puppy, leaving my family despairingly with their head in their hands. But I’m nothing if not determined when I get my mind on something. Sure, I can be impulsive…But in my defense I have taken my time looking into different breeds and trawling the internet. I thought I had struck gold with a ridiculously cheap puppy. Having corresponded with the breeder and read the information she has given, I have a feeling I have only gone and touched base with a very suspect puppy farm. Oh dear.

Since then, I found a King charles spaniel breeder in Blackpool who have some puppies now, but they are more than we can afford, so it’s back to the drawing board and time to get saving. I’m not very patient, but I guess the only way to practice patience is having to wait. Or I could just nag and nag and nag until I get my own way.

comfort food.

urgh. I’m in pain. It serves me right for not being more sympathetic with The Husband with his bad back. Doctor told me it was sciatica and gave me a load of strong pain relief.

I can’t get comfortable lying down, I can’t get comfortable sitting, but walking around makes it a little easier. So to stop myself from going nuts, tomorrow I’m going to do something to keep me on my feet. I’m going to bake and cook. Yep. I’m going to make yummy edibles until I Can’t stand anymore.

butternut Squash Soup. Fresh Bread. Blueberry muffins. Choc and oat cookies.

Slimming-World Schmimming-world. Sometimes comfort food is necessary.

diets, cupcakes and stacey solomon.

JimmyJams on.

Tucked up in bed.

8pm.

Great British BakeOff Final.

Need I say More?

No. But I will.

The last two days of work have thrown me into the middle of the week before I could say Bob’s your uncle. But I’ve loved it. I adore loving on those tiny tots at the Nursery when I get to do some work in there, and I have to keep pinching myself that I get to earn my keep doing what I was doing in my ‘spare’ time. I love my young people. They might just be the best young people in the world.

Being busy and knackered means I find my mornings at home an indulgent luxury. Even if I’m tiding up or sorting through the dirty washing.

I think I’ll renew my gym membership tomorrow. Then I can eat cake and not feel guilty. I could even bake cakes and then eat them and not feel guilty.

I love the bakeoff. Have I ever mentioned that? I love it. It makes me want to bake. After I watched it last week I went into the kitchen and tried out a new fangledangle recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery. I covered the place in flour and egg shells and ended up with very mediocre cupcakes. Next time I’ll stick with my simple vanilla sponge recipe. If it aint’ broke…

The cupcakesweren’t for me I must add. Oh no no no. I’m on a diet don’t you know. They were for a friends’ birthday. We had the young people hide in the kitchen in the dark and jump out at Tommy when he came in, only I got overexcited and jumped back, stepping into the dog’s water bowl. I recovered well and hobbled away, don’t think anyone saw.

Bakeoff’s finished. Well done Jo, you were a trooper. And you sound like Stacey Solomon and that makes you extra endearing.

This evening….

This evening I am…

waiting for the girls to stop chattering and fall asleep so I can curl up with a new magazine and a cup of coffee.

pretty darned pleased with Chloe’s new fringe, cut in by yours truly.

looking forward to working at the nursery tomorrow.

pretending to be cross that my bathroom scales aren’t working, when I’m secretly a bit very relieved.

wondering how much I can save on food shopping this month to speed up the savings for a puppy.

Thinking about our young people as The Big Questions is launched tonight.

Grateful to have my camera back, having left it in Yorkshire last week. Ooops and phew in equal measures: I thought Id lost it.

Radiator-drying school and work uniforms because we’ve been away all weekend.

still wondering where that warm weather came from, but less wiereded out now because it’s raining again. Ah, sweet English Autumn.