Monday, 30 April 2012

Raspberry Curd

Well tomorrow is my first foray into the world of Clandestine Cake Club (CCC).  My cake is a bit of an epic one - more about all that tomorrow.  CCC is all very secretive but because my cake has several elements to it, I'm having to give away the flavour of my cake so that I can blog about today's new recipe.

I took the day off work today to spend some quality time with the husband.  Regular readers will know that I work full time whilst the Husband does some childcare and tries to keep his fledgling business going.    I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this and it became topical at the weekend when I read a blog post by fellow foodie Rachel who has suddenly had to face up to the issue of working full time and having a child.

When we were unexpectedly blessed with Miss A, I assumed that I would give up work and become a Stay At Home Mum (SAHM).  I kept my options open at work, joking to them that I'd be back after two weeks of maternity leave when I would have cracked up over not being able to change a nappy, even though at the time I had no intention of going back.

Raspberry curd
Little did I know that I would really end up going back as the Husband took voluntary redundancy when Miss A was three months old.  The alternatives weren't pretty.  So I went back to my job full time on the proviso that the Husband had to do two and a half days of childcare.  We're lucky to only have a 4.5 day week where I work so I do 2.5 days childcare at the weekend whilst the Husband is off doing his thang.

Back last September after successive illnesses I was struggling to cope with the demands of my job and being a mother, without the added heap of guilt I was feeling for not being home full time with my child.  Unless you are a working mum - or indeed a SAHM - you're probably not aware of just how bitchy and judgemental some women can be over the subject of childcare.  I love my mum and tomorrow's blog is an ode to her, but even she sometimes makes me feel awful for the choice I've had to make.  Her words aren't intentional, but depending on how you take what she's said in the past, they can seem really hurtful if you're in a bad place.

Anyhow, it was September.  I was struggling to cope.  The husband suggested I took a week off work to relax.  I refused because I felt that I still wouldn't get the R&R I needed because I'd just be looking after Miss A full time.  How awful does that make me sound?  But I was so poorly that I just had no resources left to be a good mother.  He gently persuaded me to book her in for a full week of nursery so that I could recuperate and we could spend some much needed time together.  Since Miss A arrived, I can count on two fingers the number of days we've had alone together.

I spoke to a close friend about this and she told me I was an awful mother for doing that.  She knew my situation but she couldn't see past the fact that I was willing to pay someone else to care for my child.  She is lucky enough to work part time and have a mother who lives on her doorstep who looks after her child whilst she's at work and when she wants to go swanning off to London to see concerts.  I feel it would've been okay if I'd been able to palm Miss A off on my own mother but not for me to have to pay someone to do it because I don't have the luxury of free childcare on tap.  Needless to say, our friendship is now very strained.  And in the end, after stumping up £200 for a full week's nursery, Miss A was poorly and ended up being home all week and I was £200 poorer for it.  Serves me right.

Ladye Bay near Clevedon
So feel free to judge me, but today I had one of those well deserved days off.  Miss A is at nursery on Mondays and so I had a day of baking and a trip to the seaside with the Husband to scout out a location for a vintage fashion shoot.  Do I feel guilty?  Maybe.  But the day off from work and motherhood was needed.  I feel refreshed.  Even if there was a slight fracas in the kitchen this morning as the husband found me working through our teaspoon collection taste-testing whilst still in my PJs.  He can't deal with early morning mess!

Soapboxing over, on to the recipe.  Now I've made curds before (view the recipes here).  The lemon and lime ones were successful, the clementine not so.  I was nervous with this one as it was cooked directly in the pan like the clementine one rather in a bain marie like the other two.  The recipe suggests frequent stirring for the first ten minutes with constant stirring for the final couple of minutes.  Being of a nervous disposition when it comes to curds, I just stirred constantly for the whole time, giving rise to shoulder ache this evening.

I was also a bit nervous that it didn't seem to be thickening.  It's hard to tell as you leave the seeds in giving it an odd texture.  Then you sieve them out and the sieving made it seem even runnier.  Having to join the husband on a trip to the seaside meant I couldn't sit and stare at it all day, willing it to set.  I was pleased to find on our return that it had indeed congealed even without my beady-eyed staring.

So score one towards the cake of epic-ness.  You can read more about it tomorrow including where the inspiration came from.  Because I need to keep it secret until I arrive at CCC tomorrow, I won't post the link to the recipe on this page but will do a scheduled post for tomorrow night giving full credit to where the recipe came from.

In the meantime, if you want to make your own curd between now and then, here's how you do it.

Ingredients :
-       340g  Frozen Raspberries
-       5 large egg yolks
-       200g sugar
-       56g butter
-       2 tbsp lime juice
-       pinch of salt
Steps :
-       Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
-       Add the raspberries, lemon juice, egg yolks, sugar, and salt and cook, mashing the berries and stirring frequently at first and them constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
-       Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
-       Cool to room temperature; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
-       Refrigerate, covere, until ready to serve, or for up to 1 month.

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