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Project Food Blog Entry 8: A Piece Of Cake – Bippity-Boppity-NOM


Nov
26

I’m back again for round 8 of Project Food Blog, hosted by Foodbuzz.com and I’m so grateful. Thank you all so much for your support and lovely comments. As the sole representative for the UK/Europe I must say that one is rather chuffed (Edit: Apparently although I’m alone in the UK I’m not alone in Europe! Hi Cristina!). This round we were asked to create a baked good including a seasonal ingredient: pumpkin.

Baking and I am not the best of friends. This is more due to my laziness than anything else – I enjoy it, but I’m always the one with the “rustic” biscuits, and it’s because I don’t like to weigh ingredients. Well, not this time. This time I decided I was going to get out the scales, be precise and measure everything, because that’s what baking’s all about: precision. Well, and a bit of magic. And that’s really where the idea for this came from – one of my favourite fairy tales: a pumpkin cake (with a twist), shaped like a pumpkin, and some little choux pastry mice. And what’s more magic than my very own fairy tale: The Tale of Feeder Lady & The Baking Banquet.

Once upon a time, in a land a little far away but not so far that you couldn’t get a plane there, there lived a girl known as Feeder Lady. Feeder Lady was the greatest cook within a 10 mile radius of Clapham Junction: she could whip up a risotto that’d have you moaning with pleasure (oo-er), roast joints that’d melt in your mouth, and mash taters that screamed ‘heart-attack-in-a-bowl’ faster than you could say, ‘cor, that’s a lotta food, love’. But Feeder Lady had one problem: her baking weren’t too hot, innit.

One day a proclamation went out that the Prince had found his Princess, they were holding a banquet and they’d requested that the land’s best cooks bring forth a baked good for their feeding pleasure. Feeder Lady read about it in the tabloids as she was having her breakfast and exclaimed dramatically, “oh no! A baked good! However shall I compete?!” Then threw her head down onto the table in a show of great despair, ignoring the fact that she’d tipped over her breakfast bowl and now had cereal and milk in her hair.

The day of the great banquet Feeder Lady watched morosely from her kitchen as she saw Gordon, Jamie and Nigella flounce off to the Palace, baked creations in tow (Nigella was separating eggs with her hands, smearing them all over her heaving bosom and letting them drip off her sodden dress into the bowl below, where she whisked them in a rather sultry fashion; far too sultry for everyday consumption, Feeder Lady privately thought).

“Oh where, oh where is my Fairy Nom Man?” Feeder Lady sighed aloud, “if only he would help me, then I could bring a baked good to the Palace too!” And she threw a handful of flour into the air for melodramatic effect.


Suddenly, there was a tiny puff of icing sugar and standing in front of Feeder Lady was a little man with a rather grumpy expression, wearing what looked like a pink tutu and plastic tiara.

“Oh my,” gasped Feeder Lady, “are you my Fairy Nom Man?”

“Me Nom Man. Me no like silly dress. Why you make Nom Man wear dress?!” Grumbled the little man, pulling at the far-too-short skirt. He pouted a little, crossed his arms and then, rather rudely, stuck his tongue out at Feeder Lady. She, however, decided to stick with the script and ignored him.

“Oh Fairy Nom Man, I do so want to go to the palace but I haven’t a baked good in the world to bring! What should I do?”

Fairy Nom Man sighed, rolled his eyes, and decided to put the dress incident behind him for now.

“Me Fairy Nom Man, me help Feeder Lady. First you fetch me pumpkin, then you fetch me mice.”


Feeder Lady was somewhat surprised by the request, but decided not to argue with the grumpy little man. She found a lovely little pumpkin and three small mice and brought them to him. Nom Man inspected them, nodded his approval, then held his wand high in the air and yelled, “NOM!”


There was yet another puff of icing sugar, and the pumpkin was suddenly transformed into a pureed pumpkin, coconut milk, candied pancetta and candied butternut squash cake, with a red bean coconut cream filling; and the three little mice into choux pastry mice with rice paper features (remarkably similar to those of Fairy Nom Man, almost as if they’d been drawn with the same hand…) and filled with pumpkin cream cheese filling. Feeder Lady gasped with surprise – they were perfect! She clapped her hands together, squealing with glee, until the look that Fairy Nom Man was giving her stopped her. She turned her squeal into a cough, avoiding eye-contact.

“Oh Fairy Nom Man, how shall I ever thank you for all you’ve done?”

“Go win contest. And NOM.” And then, with another puff of icing sugar (Feeder Lady was sure he was wasting all of this icing sugar), Fairy Nom Man disappeared into thin air.


Feeder Lady inspected her beautiful little pumpkin cake and choux pastry mice, packed them carefully into a pastry box and trotted off to the Palace to take on Nigella, where her baked goods were ooh-ed and aah-ed over, and she totally whooped Nigella’s arse and whooped it good, simultaneously scolding her for calling Teriyaki chicken ‘Chinese’ when it is clearly Japanese. Duh.


Feeder Lady returned home triumphant, now able to call herself a baker as well as a cook, and with a shiny new trophy to put in her trophy cabinet. A cabinet that was filled with a ruby-encrusted chef’s blow torch, a Swarovski whisk, golden sous-vide and… oh, but that’s a tale for another day.

The End…?

I did have a lot of fun making all of this, despite my aversion to precise baking, particularly when I was drawing the features onto the rice paper and sticking them onto the choux pastry rats/mice with icing sugar (and then eating all of the leftover bits/sticking my tongue through the rice paper and watching it dissolve). It took me a total of forty-eight hours, but it was a real labour of love. The cake itself has a delightfully smokey flavour from the pancetta, but a lovely sweetness from the pumpkin, butternut squash, and red bean coconut cream filling. The flavours may seem bizarre, but they work together really well, especially when served with a nice creamy cheese, such as brie (as Momma Lee discovered when she hijacked half the cake and took it to work). The mice, too, are delicious. If you feel guilty eating some mouse-shaped pastries, you could of course make these into simple eclairs, but that’s a lot less fun, in my opinion.

THE CAKE
Basic pumpkin cake batter adapted from All Recipes.

Ingredients
For cake:
440g plain flour
400g dark brown soft sugar, plus 130g (for candying)
125g caster sugar
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
500g pumpkin puree (to make fresh puree: scrub the pumpkin thoroughly, chop into large pieces and roast in the oven at 200 degrees C for 40-45mins. When cool enough to handle, remove flesh from skin and blend until smooth)
225ml vegetable oil
170ml coconut milk
160g pancetta cubes
1 small butternut squash, cubed

For filling:
150ml double cream
2-3 tbsps coconut cream
1-2 tbsps azuki bean paste*

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour two baking tins: my pumpkin cake mold is made by Nordic Ware and holds 10 cups (which was about the amount of mixture this recipe yields).
2. Candy the pancetta and butternut squash (separately). In a dry frying pan, cook the pancetta with 65g of the dark brown soft sugar until cooked through and sticky. Be careful not to let it burn. Repeat with the butternut squash and the other 65g of dark brown soft sugar. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, remaining brown sugar, caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt, then add the pumpkin puree, oil and coconut milk and mix until all of the flour is incorporate. Fold in the candied pancetta and butternut squash and divide evenly between the two halves of the pumpkin mold.
4. Bake in the oven for 1hr 10mins, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil and allow to steam for 10mins. Remove foil, turn out onto a cooling rack, tent loosely with foil and allow to cool completely.
5. Meanwhile, whip together the double cream, azuki bean paste and coconut cream. When cool, use the mixture to sandwich the two halves of the pumpkin cake together. I garnished mine with an actual pumpkin stem (I also experimented with pancetta strips, rolled into a tube and fried to resemble a stem) and some ivy, but feel free to go crazy: pump up the volume!

*I made the azuki bean paste myself from Just Hungry‘s page on Tsubu-an, but you can buy it from most Asian supermarkets.

THE MICE

Ingredients
For the pastry:
50g butter
150ml water
65g flour, sifted
Pinch salt
2 eggs

For the filling:
1 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup acorn squash puree
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the features:
A sheet of edible rice paper
Cake decorating pen
Red food dye
Icing sugar
Cold water

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. In a saucepan, boil together the water and the butter until the butter melts.
3. Take off the heat and stir in the flour vigorously for about 10 secs – until it comes together and away from the edges of the pan. Be careful not to overbeat.
4. Slowly add the eggs, making sure they’re well combined. Leave to cool then fill a piping bag and pipe a mouse shape onto your baking tray (silicone baking trays are very useful in this instance). You want the ‘bottom’ of the mouse to be higher than the ‘nose’. If necessary pipe a little extra pastry onto its ‘bottom’ and shape with a palette knife.
5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 mins, then allow to cool.
6. Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a smaller bowl, then put in the fridge to chill for at least two hours.
7. When the mice are cool, fill them with the pumpkin cream cheese mixture. There are two ways to do this: you can either create a small hole at the back of the mouse and pipe the filling in with a piping bag (be careful, you could get some exploding mice!); or you can slice the mice horizontally and fill them with 1-2 tsps of filling, then sandwich them back together again. I did a combination of both.
8. Draw eyes, ears, a nose and whiskers, and tail onto the rice paper and cut out with a sharp pair of scissors. Create a ‘glue’ from the icing sugar and cold water (you want enough cold water to form a thick paste rather than a syrupy consistency) and use this to stick the features to the mice. Take a dot of the red food dye and pop it in the middle of the ear, using a tiny bit of water to spread it around to create the inner-ear.
9. Marvel at your handy work. Then bite the head off the mouse and enjoy the creamy filling.

There we have it then, hope you enjoyed. Until next time, peace and love.

Jax x

62 Responses to “Project Food Blog Entry 8: A Piece Of Cake – Bippity-Boppity-NOM”

  1. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle Says:

    You know I’m a fan and this does not disappoint. The cake sounds wonderful but I just LOVE the presentation. I saw those pans when I was shopping with my daughter and we decided it was just two bundt pans but I can see in your result that’s not the case. Looks so festive and I’m glad your attempts at a pancetta stem were a #fail; it looks terrific with the real pumpkin stem.

    Great job; now how’s that for a review? :)

  2. Katja Says:

    This: Then threw her head down onto the table in a show of great despair, ignoring the fact that she’d tipped over her breakfast bowl and now had cereal and milk in her hair. and this: And she threw a handful of flour into the air for melodramatic effect. made me laugh like a whole bevy of drains. Love it!

  3. IslandEAT Says:

    Well, well, well, Jax, you have outdone yourself! Not only was your post enchanting (pun intended), but you also created an original and delightful creation.
    The cake is fit for a princess or a queen – you have some of those in England still, no?

    I just hope Nigella doesn’t track you down, her bodice covered in separated eggs. Your description of her was too funny, but surely your making up the teriyaki mistake?!?

    Perhaps now you will think about writing a series of children’s books, featuring the Nom man…something for you to consider for the future.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  4. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite Says:

    Well written my friend, well written. I am in love with the idea of the mice with the creamy filling! Off with their heads, I say! Good luck!

  5. Tunde Says:

    This is great Jackie !!Well executed and the short story fit in perfectly. Got Nom man cross- dressing eh ;) ?

  6. Tweets that mention iamafeeder.net » Project Food Blog Entry 8: A Piece Of Cake – Bippity-Boppity-NOM -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Barbara Kiebel, Tunde Olubando, Emma, Mardi, Lora and others. Lora said: RT @VinoLuci RT @jaxies: Done! #PFB2010 entry 8: magic, candied pancetta and mice! http://tinyurl.com/39cnezk <Check this out; love it! [...]

  7. Ken?hungry rabbit Says:

    What a great story, my feeder lady. Simply adorable n full of wit.

  8. Brian @ A Thought For Food Says:

    This cake is awesome! Shame that it’s not in a language I understand. ;-) You, of course, have my vote and I can’t wait to see you move forward to round 9!

  9. chanel11 Says:

    What a HUGE labour of love – and you are going the distance in this comp lady!

  10. Wei-Wei Says:

    I LOVED your story – and that cake? Fuhhhgeddaboutit. I don’t even need to comment on the food anymore because I know it’ll ALWAYS look amazing!

  11. sophia Says:

    You. Always. Impress. Me.

    Jackie, the more I read your posts, the more eager I am to meet you. Please. Please make my day and come visit me. And bring this Asianified cake with you. (AZN PRYDE!)

  12. Winnie Says:

    Fabulous story and adorable cake (and rice). I’ll be rooting for you when voting opens on Monday, my friend :)

  13. Winnie Says:

    I meant to say adorable mice, not rice!!!

  14. Mara @ What's For Dinner? Says:

    Bippity Boppity FAB!!! I love this, i love the story, and i LOVE the cake recipe! Great job my dear :)

  15. The Cilantropist Says:

    This is too cute, I loved reading your fairy tale and the idea of Nom man in a tutu (if only we could have gotten a little visual! :) Wonderful job, and I heart those pumpkin shaped pans, been lusting after some myself!

  16. Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris Says:

    Well…now we discover your other talent (apart from cooking!) writing!!! Great story and creative culinary approach to this challenge..Ah, you are not alone in Europe…I’m here, just across the channel !!

  17. Claire Boyles Says:

    this is AWESOME!! You are a genius, not only with your cooking and BAKING wizardry, but also with your amazing talent when it comes to crafting thoroughly enchanting stories!!

    WOW! you rock!! Now, where do we go to vote for you?

  18. Andres Says:

    You never cease to amaze me with your creativity! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

  19. All That I'm Eating Says:

    Congratulatons! Hooray for the UK! You’ve got my vote! This looks amazing. Best of British luck for the future rounds.

  20. Hot Polka Dot's Mom Says:

    Enchanting and delicious. You must also have a horticultural side because the English ivy is a great choice to mimic in miniature the leaf shape of a pumpkin vine. May your fairy tale creation inspire a happily ever after !

  21. Kim at Life as a Foodie Says:

    You; my dear, are a force to be reckoned with. Your storytelling is fabulous and the food is nothing short of amazing. Love, love, love what you did. Funny, entertaining, and all around great. Nom Man dressed in drag. Too funny.

  22. Vanessa Says:

    oh my! this all looks and sounds so wonderful and magical!!! you, love, deserve this! you are an amazing and entertaining writer! can’t wait for voting to start, and to see what more you come up with!!!! NOM!

  23. Peggy Says:

    I loved every part of this post! The fairy tail had me giggling and smiling the whole way through and the final end result really is absolutely stunning! I can not wait to vote for you!!!

  24. Marc @ NoRecipes Says:

    Good lord! You would have gotten my vote for that pancetta caramelizing in the pan alone, but that story… seriously clever (and funny!).

  25. Reeni Says:

    What an adorable cake! And an even cuter story to go with it. Love the idea of Nom Man in a tutu! You, my lovely, are going to be the belle of this ball…oops…I mean contest!

  26. Amelia from Z Tasty Life Says:

    I adore your quirky humor and creativity…this is such a sweet fairytale. Dance the night away until challenge #9, my friend!!!

  27. Cathy/ShowFoodChef Says:

    Simply lovvvve the story, the creativity and the pics, too! Foodbuzzdom awaits you, fo sho’

  28. Baking Serendipity Says:

    This is too cute! I love the story and the cake. You are definitely a baker and writer at heart :)

  29. The Cuisinerd Says:

    Ohhhhhh! Nom Mice and cutie pies! xo

  30. saltyseattle Says:

    you are one funny bird! all around delightful, babes- sooo can’t wait to hang with you soon. xo, salty

  31. Steph Says:

    Really great post! SO entertaining!

  32. Isabelle Says:

    Too cute! I’m so glad someone did a Cinderella-themed post. I was really tempted, but the inspiration just didn’t come… which is just as good, because yours is way more awesome than anything I could’ve come up with. (Man, that Nigella is a bit of a tart, isn’t she?)
    Great job. :) Good luck with this challenge!

  33. Rich Says:

    I’d love to write something funny and witty here, but you’ve simply set the bar too high. Wouldn’t want to embarrass myself in front of all these nice commenters …

  34. Blu Reynolds Says:

    You’re talent and passion for cooking leapt from the screen and attempted to smother me! I love this and all of your previous food blog entries. Not only do I impatiently wait for your next wacky and wonderful edible creation, I relish reading your witty and effortless prose. You, you wonderful collection of cells are the future of British cooking, and I wish you every success…

  35. Mishkin Says:

    feeeeeed me!

  36. Joan Nova Says:

    Very creative in the kitchen and at the keyboard. Congratulations and good luck!

  37. The Cuisinerd Says:

    Nom Man is quite the cheeky shape shifter, isn’t he!?

  38. Leek and Potato Hotpot: Classic Comfort Food from Jolly Olde England | IslandEAT Says:

    [...] dishes” before roasting.  So I consulted British cuisine expert and blog buddy, Jackie, of I am a Feeder. Jackie provided me with very useful on the British hotpot: Traditional Lancashire Hot Pot is [...]

  39. riceandwheat Says:

    You know I can never resist you and your too-cute ways, my dear Feeder Lady. But those choux mice are just. too. much! <3!

  40. Tiny Urban Kitchen Says:

    Ha ha . . I can’t believe you got edible rice paper to make the eyes. That is just too funny! This was a super cute post and one of the most fun to read.

  41. Lisa Says:

    I love reading your post. Forget Nigella, here comes feeder lady!

  42. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking Says:

    I know I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again: GREAT post! I love that it’s not JUST amazing food with you, but also great, fun writing. Voting!

    My entry this time around is an original recipe I developed. It’s a croquemcake, or a combination croquembouche (mounted cream puff tower) and cake. I have affectionately and clumsily dubbed it a Browned Butter Pumpkin Croquemcake with White Chocolate Chai Mousse – the mousse is the surprise inside! Come see if you’d like :)

  43. Vicky Liew Says:

    Awesome. What are pancetta cubes? All the other ingredients brings great flavours to mind. I enjoyed the story too. Great work of love. Hope u find yr niche in the world with yr many talents. Be bold & go for it.

  44. Monet Says:

    A beautiful cake, a lovely story, and a recipe that I can’t wait to try! You don’t disappoint, and I so hope that you get to continue on. You have my vote! Have a great sweetie. I can’t wait to MEET you in a few more months.

  45. Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen Says:

    Great job on this post. Love the story and the cake! Good luck this round!

  46. sippitysup Says:

    Hey Cinderella, I think this pumpkin carriage is taking you to round 9!

  47. Diana@Spain in Iowa Says:

    I was dying to read your post. I saw it briefly earlier this week and it was the cutest thing ever. The story was lovely and the cake and little mice look amazing. Well done, this has to be one of my favorites of this round!

  48. Jacob's Kitchen Says:

    Adorable post! You are, of course, one of my favorites left in the competition…so you had better win! lol You always have my vote. =) The cake looks wonderful, and your post as always is informative, fun, and whimsical. Nicely done, friend.

    Go team Jax! =)

  49. Jean Says:

    I second everything that’s been said here. What an entertaining read and definitely a strong entry for #8. Great job! :-)

  50. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox Says:

    Love this! Finally someone else who goes that extra step sometimes with a real pumpkin.

  51. Mariko Says:

    That filling! Nom.
    This is the 3rd time looking at it and it doesn’t get any less exciting. :)
    Y’know, it makes SO much more sense now that I know you’re a food writer. Of course!

  52. Shea M. @ Blissfully Unrefined Says:

    I’m a little embarrassed to say this is my first time on the site. I <3 PFB for that, because I've found so many great new bloggers to read (which subsequently has overtaken any social life I once had). I was skeptical at first – an attitude I've taken during the voting, now that so few votes are left to cast – and made a rule: if I'm not astounded, it's on to the next entry. Well, you've astounded me. I love the story you shared (so much like the crazy that goes on in my own head when I dream), and including a pumpkin cake into the wackadoo story (that's a compliment, don't worry), perfection.

  53. deirdre martin Says:

    The art of cooking is such a kindly friendly unselfish art and an opportunity for self expression – its what literature or music or painting is to others and you have combined them all in weaving this wonderful story and delightful dessert – once again you have my vote ! Go Nom Man

  54. Lisa Says:

    Cake AND a fairy story!! SO great. Your flavors are completely intriguing- I love the combination, and wish it was right here in front of me so I could give it a taste…

    Lisa.

    Good luck, I am sending a vote your way.

  55. Jackie Says:

    Thanks all for such lovely comments – you’ve totally put a smile on my face! Glad you enjoyed the Fairy Tale, the cake and, of course, the Nom Mice ;)

    Jax x

  56. Emily @ Foodie/Nutritionist Says:

    Great job!! This is so creative and cute. Good luck!

  57. Ben Says:

    You had me at bacon cake.

  58. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) Says:

    I agree with the other comments you definitely have another talent in addition to cooking – writing ! I could read your posts for hours! Love the idea of the little mice. Good Luck

  59. eataduckimust Says:

    life would make absolutely no sense if this post did not make it to the next round! it’s just simply too magical :)

  60. Savory Sweet Living Says:

    What a cute story, you may want to look into writing fairy tales! I also love all the flavors you incorporated into this cake. Good job and good luck!

  61. Lori Lynn Says:

    sweet. cute. adorable.
    best wishes in the competition, love your creativity and unique style!
    LL

  62. Stay-At-Home-Chef Says:

    Loved your post…very clever! Good luck in the competition :)

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