Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sachertorte eclipses the eclipse and the aurora borealis.

Well, I couldn't let the solar eclipse go by without comment.

Unfortunately I was at work, where the class I was working with were receiving a visit from a very friendly police sniffer dog - no, the school's not that rough, it was a demonstration visit only!

Anyway, while everyone was preoccupied with this, I sneaked outside at 9:30 am to see what was happening with the sun The light was already dimming and the temperature had dropped. Unfortunately we had just struck out on the weather and there was a cloudy sky. However, this did me a favour really, as I was expecting only to be able to glance at a crescent of bright sun (I know, I know. I shouldn't do that.) As it was, there was a smiling face peering through the clouds in the sky and it was quite easy to look at. The clouds also meant that my phone didn't get too freaked out by staring straight at the sun and surprised me by managing to capture the moment.

I've opted for the long view as I'm bored of everybody's close-ups
which all seem to be rather the same.

This was quite some improvement on what happened with the northern lights two days previously, when a low blanket of fog enveloped the fens just enough to make sure that again we saw nothing of it. It was so frustrating, as looking straight up we could see all the stars in the sky. The only part of the sky we could not see was the horizon, where all the action was happening. We even drove out along the dark, murky lanes toward The Wash and away from all habitation, but the fog just stubbornly refused to budge.

Anyway, one celestial phenomenon in a week is enough to keep me happy, but last night this was surely outshone by the Blokes Baking Group's most ambitious project so far.

We decided to tackle Sachertorte. Invented by Franz Sacher in Vienna in 1832, this chocolate cake or torte has recently acquired fame with appearances on The Great British Bake-Off. We decided to risk following Mary Berry's recipe, available here, despite being let down by her in the past!
New techniques were required - bain-maries for melting chocolate, folding ingredients, whipping up egg whites, a ganache, using an icing gun. It was all new territory, much more fiddly than our preferred techniques of chucking everything in a bowl, bashing it around a bit, cooking it and eating it.

Conversation and beer flowed and at the end of the evening we had produced three of these:

Mine was the only one which said Sacher Tart on it though! And before you wonder, this was done on purpose as a retort to the others trying their utmost to confuse me over the spelling. With hindsight, I should have included a smiling sun on it to mark the occasion. Maybe next time.

If you need an excuse to make a Sachertorte cake, 5 Decemeber is, apparently, National Sachertorte Day - though I think that may only be in Austria.

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