Sunday 25 March 2012

Sunday Baking: Lemon and Cardamom Cookies

I have still been baking, most Sundays. This weekend has been especially busy because I am finishing up work on my first book (it is only a revision guide but I feel terribly pleased with myself!) Strangely, though, I seem to be more productive when I have lots to do.

Today has been no exception. I have made pumpkin ginger cupcakes and lemon butter cake, both from Short and Sweet; I have modified the lemon butter cake a little, splitting it and filling with home made lemon curd, and then icing with ginger cream cheese frosting. It got rave reviews at work last week. The best thing about these cakes is that they both use partial amounts of a key ingredient - butternut squash, and condensed milk - which means they have to be made again shortly afterward.

The green grocer has some marvellous lemons in at the moment so I have gone a bit overboard. I also got this letterpress cookie cutter set, so I made lemon and cardamom cookies, using this recipe.

8oz butter, softened
5½oz caster sugar
1 lemon, zest only
9oz plain flour
3½ oz ground almonds
3 tsp ground cardamom or 1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment.
Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the flour, almonds and cardamom until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough. Roll the dough into 24 balls and place 12 on each baking tray – make sure you leave space between each one. Press each cookie with a cookie stamp or the bottom of a glass to flatten. Bake a tray at a time for 12–14 minutes until the cookies are pale golden brown. Leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Store the cookies in an airtight tin and eat within 7 days.

Firstly, those letterpress cutters aren't all that. The letters were a bit faint by the time they had finished baking. I wonder if it would have helped to chill the dough first? It was very warm today (hello, Spring).
Secondly, I think I don't understand cardamom. I only had the pods, so I ground a bit more than a large tsp of the pods, and then fished the pods out. The cookies have an overpowering cardamom flavour, which I quite like; but the lemon is somewhat lost. I have a deep distrust of ready ground spices but I might buy some ready-ground cardamom for next time. I do like cardamom. Even the word is good.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

11 Questions

Courtesy of Dreams That Glitter...I love a good meme.

1. What is your favourite lipstick?
I like MAC Ladybird. A good smack-in-the-face red. I might dig it out and wear it tomorrow, actually; it reflects my wish to smack a colleague in the face.
2. What has made you happy today?
The resolution of a Horrid Thing. Also managing the whole spin class without having to modify bits so I could keep up.
3. Do you use a primer? Which one?
No....well, I use Urban Decay Potion thingie on my lids. I keep meaning to get one. I used to use Benefit Dr Feelgood.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Meh. Not sure. Hopefully in roughly the same place as I am now, but thinner and with the house decorated and looking nice. I am pretty happy with my lot for the time being but I'm also pretty sure I will start to look at other options if that stops being the case.
5. Have you given up anything for Lent?
Bread. It is going well.
6. What's your favourite magazine?

Probably Elle. It's basically the only one I allow myself to buy, apart from the occasional fitness magazine.
7. What is your dream job?

You may call me mental, but I actually really love teaching. However, travel writing has always been very appealing. Why yes, of course I'll go on holiday and write about it for money!
8. Can you speak any other languages?

A bit of Spanish.
9. Do you have a party trick?

I can sing the Table of the Elements. I can also eat fire, theoretically - I'm not sure I've ever actually done it, though.
10. What are you looking forward to in 2012?

Skiing. The Olympics. Having a birthday at home, and with Mr Z. Hopefully a summer holiday in Switzerland. Doing the Sodbury Slog. Skiing again, with any luck.
11. What is your favourite film?

Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, probably. Maybe Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Deja Vu

I went to ground this time last year, thanks to some unpleasant and unexpected business at work. The short story of it was, they made me feel massively undervalued and, maybe because I am such a proud person and always want to do my very best, very hurt. I got a couple of application forms. Then the ski trip came along and kept me in my job.

Which is why I am so GUTTED that they have gone and done exactly the same thing to me this year. It is over a different matter but with an identical outcome in terms of my feelings - worse, if possible. The bad news was broken to me at the end of a lunchbreak, before double horrible-class followed by a parents' evening, and the day before I had to be in school by 5.45am for a trip to Belgium. Brilliant! I had a day in the following week where I could only just manage to be in front of classes: talking to colleagues just made me choke up and I cried so much on my drive home that I nearly went straight to the doctor and had him sign me off. The thought of having to declare it on job applications for the next two years kept me from doing it, though.

Luckily, today, it resolved itself, in my favour; I've learnt a lot about myself through the process, and about my colleagues, and about my line manager who is a little bit too far down the spectrum to really "get" emotion (she is a bit like Sheldon Cooper) but was extremely supportive and helpful when I cried through our hour-long meeting last week. However, I would prefer not to have to do this again, please.

I did have a job application filled in for another job, but I think I'm going to tough it out. I'll wait and see what comes up in the next term or so; and also what happens with the redundancy process that's just begun, because someone from my department is in the firing line. This would be the last straw - but with the payout, the marking money and a little belt-tightening, I worked out I could have September-Christmas off. This is wildly tempting! Mr Z says no. He says he might apply for redundancy and have September-Christmas off to play golf.

We are both ready for retirement, it seems.

Anyway, if I don't get made redundant then I'll benefit from having a new Head from September, and all I can hope is that this will vastly improve matters. Sitting tight, then - but keeping an eye on it, because I would hate to be quiet next March because they have screwed me over for a third time.