A multi-part post! I started writing this morning but was quickly swept up in the Christmas preparations until dinner was served just after 2 pm. After some intense eating and present opening, we are currently relaxing and watching Monty Python Almost Live. The fire is roaring and we are all in a food-induced comatose, so let the Christmas times roll on!
Well, the big day is upon us and things are in full swing at Newforge. Seven o’clock this morning was too early to get up, but it had to be done for the sake of the turkey. It’s well on the way to being cooked now, and the dessert is made and not a disaster (miraculously). There was one minor incident, though. The stock from the gammon was outside overnight in a covered stock pot in order to cool, but wasn’t brought into the utility room before everyone went off to bed. It made a rather excellent snack, I imagine, for the farmer’s dog up the road. The lid was off the pot and half the contents were consumed! I am starting to think that stock is cursed – last years batch ended up sitting out for several days and went off before we managed to get using it. Some year soon it’ll survive, we just have to be more organised. It was lucky the turkey wasn’t left out in the cold like last year. The barrel was sealed but that wouldn’t deter a keen mutt, particularly with such a huge turkey. There is lots still to do, and it is looking less likely that we will get into the sitting room to open presents till later on in the day.
The fire is so delightful, and the food did not include trifle, but since there’s no place to go (and since most of my packages decided not to arrive anyway), let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. And though there was no trifle this year, the dessert was not a trifling matter. Stop me when you get tired of puns and Christmas songs. This year I attempted a rather ambitious dessert…the Charlotte Royale! I first encountered this unique sweet on last years Great British Bake Off and was instantly drawn to the apparent complexity and absurdity to the dessert. I almost didn’t make it. Common sense almost prevailed. Thankfully it did not and I went ahead with the task. The first task was to make the filling, the bavarois (or Bavarian cream), which is a kind of fruit custard set with gelatine. I’m well used to making custard after making it for three trifles over the past three years, but the addition this time was raspberry purée and gelatine leaves. Gelatine is wonderful stuff though this was my first time working with gelatine leaves. The thin sheets of gelatine (leaves) are soaked in cold water for five minutes, and then the excess water is squeezed out, and the gelatine is added to the custard mixture. The container for the bavarois is the next consideration. For this, I had to make two swiss rolls with a combination of raspberry jam and cherry jam. After they cooled down, I sliced the swiss roll and used the slices to line a bowl. Things never go as smoothly as planned, of course, and the one swiss roll the recipe instructed me to bake did not suffice. I still had a large part of the bowl to cover and the base wasn’t nearly covered. I hastily baked an emergency swiss roll and finished off the lining. After the sides of the bowl were lined, I poured in the cooled bavarois (which I made slightly incorrectly, but it still worked), and covered it with more swiss roll slices. Amazingly, when I took it out of the fridge this morning and turned it out of the bowl it did not fall apart! And on top of that, it was rather delicious. For the first time making a tricky dessert, it actually went quite smoothly, and I may attempt it again in the future with a few tweaks.
I shall write more about the fantastic food later (with decent pictures), but for now I am just playing around with my new presents, including a Linx Windows 8.1 tablet. I may be a Windows 8 convert soon enough!