Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Somewhere over the rainbow: Rainbow Cake recipe

Baking has never been my forte. It's one of those past times which, if I'm being frank, is the bain of my life when I try and attempt it- exactly why I never do it.

So when I do bake something, and it actually turns out like what it's meant to, there's no chance I could miss the opportunity to scream, shout, and let it all out, about this once in a lifetime experience. Fancy impressing your family and friends with a show stopper even Mary and Paul would be proud of (if they were judging a child's baking competition that is), well then, this Rainbow Cake recipe is for you...

What you'll need for the cake mix:
The following ingredients create seven cake sponges (which need to be seperated out equally throughout the baking process)

  • 437.5g butter (softened) with a little extra for greasing the tins
  • 337.5g plain flour
  • 525g golden caster sugar
  • 11 medium eggs
  • 3.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3.5 tsp baking powder
  • Edible food colouring in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink
  • A few pinches of salt
And for the icing:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g icing sugar
  • 3 x 250g tubs cream cheese (or mascarpone)

Ready, set, bake!
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and grease two 20cm round sandwich tins well. Pour all of the sponge cake ingredients, except from the food colouring, into a large mixing bowl. Beat the ingredients with an electric whisk until smooth. 
2.  As quickly as possible, weigh out half of the mixture into another bowl. Choose two of the colours and stir a little into each mix. You can add as much colouring in as you like - the more colour, the brighter the cake, and if you're anything like me you'll add lots!

Pour the different mixtures into the cake tins, spreading the mixes as smoothly as you can. Bake both cakes on the same oven shelf for 10 - 12 minutes (bake until you can poke a skewer into the middle  of the cake and it comes out clean).
3. Once the cakes are baked, gently turn the cakes out onto a wire rack, allowing them to cool. Next, thoroughly wash the cake tins and the bowls and start from step 1 all over again - using two different colours of course! Repeat one more time, and then use the final cake mix left over to create the last cake. Leave them to cool off.
4. Now on to the icing...

Briefly beat the vanilla extract and cream cheese with an electric whisk until smooth. Gently sift in the icing sugar, slowly folding in with a spatula (although I used a wooden spoon). It's important to be careful with the icing, as the more you work it, the runnier it will get!

5. Place a wee bit of icing on a plate, or a cake stand if you have one, to stick the first sponge too. Starting with the red sponge, spread icing all over it to the edge and repeat, sandwiching the other colours on top. Following a 'traditional' rainbow the next colour should be orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink to finish it off. Spread any remaining icing all over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle hundreds and thousands all over the cake to finish it off nicely. You can even add edible glitter if you're feeling adventurous!
6. Finally, slice, plate up, and devour. Job done.

  For Now...

Just Julia


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Gin of the month: Porter's Gin

Gin and myself have been good buddies for over a year now. We've had some interesting experiences - cue memories of slightly underage drinking (I wasn't that much of a rebel) meaning I ended up completely hating the stuff by the age of 18, to sophisticated cocktail evenings with a few of my favourites enjoying gin in a fruitful way, oh, and let's not forget those cosy nights in front of a warm, open fire with a goblet or two. The goblets usually sporting a handful of berries or a sprig of rosemary or mint in them of course. It's been an intriguing, exciting friendship, if anything else, and it always seems to astonish me how every damn one tastes different.

With 70% of the UK's gin now produced in Scotland, you'd think the brains behind the operation would run out of ideas. Nope, not a chance. And nevertheless, mother nature continues to drown us in her delectable offering giving those looking to distil gin, a word-wide larder to pick from. From the rare Buddha's hand which is used in Aberdeen's very own Porter's gin, to sugar kelp from the Outer Hebrides used in the Isle of Harris gin, the many changing faces (or ingredients) of gin is quite fascinating.

It's a straight forward process (or so I've been told), if you know what you're doing that is. It's balancing the different flavours and key notes which is the tricky part...so with this in mind, I've decided to do a monthly spotlight on some of my favourite gins. Yes I'm not a gin critic, correct, and no, I'm not trying to set myself out to be one. I'm a girl, who love gin, and wants to share my personal experiences with it with you. Simple. Think something along the line of a student's version of a gin review, if you can handle that then we'll get along dandy...

Oh these guys! Can we just take a minute to appreciate the detail of this bottle please? With a bespoke design created to showcase the two show-stopper ingredients, Buddha's hand and juniper berries, in the flask in which the gin is created, there's a real sense of attention to detail here - and that's just the bottle.

A semi-local of the bar the gin was created in, Porter's has been close to my heart since the very first time it touched my lips. The launch night for this gin last year was heaving, there were so many people out in force to support the creators, Ben Iravani Josh Rennie and Alex Lawrence, and obviously eager to try the gin. With lots of hype around the trio, who are well-known in the drinks industry, it was very exciting to experience the start of something amazing.
The gin itself is very refreshing, and quite citrusy. Boasting orange, orris root, lemon, Buddha's hand, and pink peppercorn's, its no wonder it has that zesty taste to it, with a light spice to finish of course.

At 41.5% it's a lovely London Dry gin, not bitter on the tongue, very smooth in my opinion. I'm not too keen on gins which dry out your mouth, and Porter's certainly does not do this. Suggested serves would be premium tonic (usually Fever Tree or me) and a lime wedge. I also tried the gin with a sprig of mint and orange peel which was incredibly tasty. Although, I've never quite got my Porter's to taste as good as the guys at Orchid make it. It's so bloody tasty.
The gin is also cracking in cocktails and is becoming more and more popular with bars across the UK. A gin created for bartenders by those who understand and have worked within the industry over a decade now, it's no surprise it's proving so popular. I can hands down say this gin is a great addition to any gin-based cocktail.

Created with old and new techniques, this marriage of tradition meets innovation is a great love story. By utilsiing a unique homemade(ish) rotary evaporator and one of the UK's oldest gin distillers, the wonderful gin, my local gin, Porter's, is a delicious affair of mature and modern coming together.
A gin with a full body and a larger than life character, I really enjoy Porter's and love the team behind it. Bursting with industry passion, the brains bringing Porter's to the market have already nailed down a deal with Harvey Nichols, have managed to get the gin featured in Vogue's 100th Anniversary edition, oh, and did I mention the gin was recently awarded a top industry accolade too? Yeah, when Aberdeen do it, we do it damn right.

Available in most Aberdeen bars and bottle shops, get your hands on one of these bottles. It would also make an excellent gift, so if you're Christmas stocking is slightly weighty this year, expect great gin things.
For Now...

Just Julia


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

National Beer Lover's Day: Fierce Beer Fuego Feroz launch (Aberdeen)

Ah National Beer Lover's Day, oh how the beery lovers of the world welcome you with open arms. And for once, so do I! It's not a big secret that I've really not been a fan of beer, wether it's craft or not, if you'd have asked me if I liked beer a few months ago I probably would have pulled one of those 'yucky' kids faces. Not any more.

After recently bumping in to the awesome bunch at Fierce Beer, I was introduced to the hoppy golden liquid Fierce had on offer. To my surprise I actually really liked the taste of these beers, like, really liked them. Was something wrong with me? Was I ill? Was I having an out of body experience and dreaming about the day I actually finally liked beer? Nope, it was just some god damn good beer hitting my palate like no beer had done before. I don't know if it was their fierce branding or their fierce beers which I feel in love with first, but boy did I fall hard.

Now one of my PR clients, these guys are insanely good brewers, creating some of the most flavoursome beers I've tasted to date. One beer which sticks in my mind when I'm chatting about these witty, fierce, pack-a-punch of flavour, beers is Fuego Feroz. A recently(ish) launched beer, Fuego boasts some serious heat. Think a shit load of habanero chillies and refreshing fresh lime juice. UNREAL.

Last month, I joined the team at Fierce Beer to launch this insane beer at an exclusive tasting event at The Tipping House. Their chefs had worked tirelessly to create dishes which would accompany the beers and compliment their strong flavours. The team didn't disappoint.

Pairings included;

Eskimo Joe (a vanilla and coffee pale ale) with a venison and silverskin onion hot pot
Granadilla Guerrila (a passionfruit West Coast IPA) with smoky BBQ pulled pork shoulder sliders
Lemmy 'Avit (a lemon and rocksalt wheat beer) with lamb and apricot tagine with five spice flatbread
Fuego Feroz (a spiced pale ale) with honey and pistachio coated chicken drums and garlic and rosemary infused hanger steak
Café Racer (a dark porter with espresso beans and vanilla) with chocolate mousse

A great event all round, the Fierce beers were a huge hit with guests, a great success for the team at a brilliant venue. You can check out my photo diary of what went down below...

   For Now...

Just Julia
© Just Julia

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