Snail dumplings

So, Snickerdoodles are all kinds of fabulous. I managed to narrow down my list of Things I NEED to Bake Immediately, and whipped up a batch of the cinnamonny treats to take with me to my afternoon function yesterday.

They’re super simple to make, and the only ingredient I didn’t already have on hand was the cream of tartar. But that comes in small packets, so no need to stock up on a big bakkie that’s just going to go stale.

snickerdoodles

Full disclosure, I really do think the name is kind of stupid though. Every time I say Snickerdoodle, I subconsciously start humming Yankee Doodle Dandy, and picturing Snickers bars doing a weird chocolately can can (which, now that I’ve seen Sausage Party, is all the more disturbing). It’s a bizarre name for a biscuit, right? And I STILL think it should be a pie of some sort. Anyway, I asked the internet why, for the love of all that is leavened and golden brown, they’re called Snickerdoodles, and… it turns out they may have come from Germany originally, where they were probably known as schneckennudeln (crunchy German cookies sprinkled with cinnamon), and well, you know how people are when they can’t (be bothered to try to) pronounce something properly… “Schniker-what? Snickerdoodle? Yeah, let’s just go with that.”

But guys, according to one online explanation – schneckennudeln means SNAIL DUMPLING! And that’s just perfection. So I think, when I make these again, that’s what I’ll tell people they are.

Speaking of people, the guests at the party loved them. They really are delicious. The cinnamon sugar coating on the outside crisps up nicely, while the inside stays soft and doughy and yum. This is one of those recipes where, when the eight minute timer goes off, you want to jump up and whip them out immediately. There’s no “baking by smell” with these. Timing is everything.

I’ll definitely be packaging up a bunch of snail dumplings as gifts this Christmas. So, who’s on my Nice list? Oh, who’m I kidding – even those on the Naughty list deserve some of these.

Birthday cake and buttons

The best thing about baking for your birthday for the office is that you can experiment a bit, have some fun, and in the end, no one’s going to complain, because, well, free cake.

Usually I whip up a batch of cupcakes and simply top them with Speckled Eggs and lashings of glitter. But this year I was feeling a touch more festive. So I decided to go with a rainbow-ish cake.

The “ish” is because I didn’t want to include all seven colours and end up lugging a precariously towering monstrosity all the way into town by car and then having to totter the few blocks down to the office with it. Next plan was red, yellow, blue and green, but when I worked out that I could fit just three of my round tins in the oven at a time, that settled it. Three sevenths of a rainbow is at least something.

cake before

Ready… set…

You know that thing where you go to a baking supplies store to buy that one specific fondant icing smoother thingy and accidentally walk out with gum paste button moulds as well? Yes, that. So obviously my birthday cake needed buttons, lots of them. I had enormous fun making them and then set them aside to set for a few days while we got on with the sticky business of throwing a big birthday party.

Making the cake itself was a piece of, umm, cake. But it was my first go at colouring the batter (not counting the red velvet whoopie pies I make every now and then), so I wasn’t completely sure of how much gel colouring to squeeze into each portion. But like I said “free cake”, so I took a guess and hoped for the best. And I was pleased with the result. Last thing anyone wants is a supposed-to-be-bright cake that looks more like a 1950s gender-neutral baby shower, or have brilliant colours, but end up tasting nothing but chemicals. I think I found the sweet spot.

Anyone who’s ever iced a chocolate cake with white icing will tell you it’s a pain. Same goes for multi-coloured cakes. Bright. Crumbs. Sticking. EVERYWHERE! It took some patience, lots of scraping and a sprinkling of bad words to get this one half-way decently covered without the “secret” showing through. Luckily, I’ve never professed to be a purveyor of perfect cakes – I lean more towards the shabby chic side of things. So the slightly rough finish worked well.

cake during

The moment of truth

And as for the moment of truth… Everyone had gathered to take pics and be first in line for a piece, and as I cut and plated the first slice there were oohs and aahs all round. It made my little baker’s heart swell. That’s the other thing about baking for yourself. So often we send orders out into the world, and apart from a follow-up What’s App or two that’s the last we hear of it, and it’s on to the next order. But when you’re baking for your friends you get to enjoy the cake with them. Share in the delight. It makes the hard work more than worth it.

All told, this cake took about four hours to put together. How long did it last from first cut to complete decimation? Eleven minutes. And I honestly couldn’t be happier.

cake after

Who wants to lick the board?