Baking and Comedy

The past week I have been, as the title suggests, going to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and doing some baking.

Dave Thornton on discount tickets for being a ‘preview’ session.. a good hour! It had a long-running story of how he was to give an inspirational talk at a school, but had no idea what to say. Quite intimate-feeling, as it was just in a narrow hall with some seats set up. I laughed most at the improvised things that he said when talking with audience members.

Charlie Pickering, though I probably should have picked someone that IknewI would like, instead of a guess. Most of his jokes I saw coming, and his personality can be a bit annoying.. plus the whole theme of the thing was about why haven’t we kept caring about traveling to the moon. It’s not like he’s training to be an astronaut either!

The maths of dying was pretty funny, but you learn things as well eg only 10% of Australian population dies before 60-something. More people die each year falling out of bed than falling off a ladder.. but there wasn’t too much technical stuff, but a few jokes thrown in for good measure (‘if that line wasn’t funny, you ruined it by observing it’.. and something about a particular mathematician being able to check into Hotel Infinity because you can always find infinity+1 or something..

The science comedy (Peer Revue) was mostly the same: I learnt a few things, like about Hawking radiation, the mimic octopus, Russian countries becoming sub-colonies within sub-colonies are alike to babushka dolls.. I enjoyed most seeing Simon Pampena, the maths comedian I’ve seen during national science week for the past 4 years. The other day I was feeling disappointed that I might not be in the country to see him again, and then this popped up! I was worried that he would recycle jokes, but only the intro song was reused (I’m a brainiac on the floor..). Since he normally performs at the universities, he can usually throw in some pretty mathsy jokes, but he’s not allowed to swear. At this show, he opened by getting everyone who liked maths to yell swearwords (breaking stereotypes), but then used venn diagrams as the mathsiest thing.. and not even in an appropriate way! But I enjoyed it, but it was over much too soon, I would have happily paid more for him to go for longer, even if it was jokes which I’d heard before.. it’s not the same as rehearing normal comedian’s jokes. I want to be able to remember these, so I can tell them myself! But I always forget too quickly.

So, baking…!

Chocolate theme at the baking club for easter. As soon as I heard that I knew it was a bad idea.. but everyone likes a good chocolate overdose. I read through a list of someone’s top 50 chocolate recipes, but only found one inspiring one (I try not to do typical things). Then I realised that I have a pile of cookbooks in the corner, which might actually come to good use. In particular, the Adriano Zumbo one which I know also does NOT do boring. However, the recipes are normally comprised of at least 4 other recipes, and require weird ingredients…

Enter the japanese mayonnaise cake. No weird ingredients.. in fact, fewer ingredients than a normal cake recipe! jackpot! But, it’s the mirror glaze recipe (and consequently clear glaze recipe) that gets you with the weird ingredients. Normal glaze should be fine, just some condensed milk, chocolate, gelatine (new for me!), glucose syrup.. sounds healthy hey!! turned out a bit like jelly. you could easily set it in a pan and cut it into cubes for decorating different things.. I have way too much left over and am not quite sure what to do with it (the condensed milk too!).

The cake turned out quite nicely.. it’s quite moist and while you can taste the mayonnaise, you can’t identify it.. too much sweetness for anyone to be freaked out by it. Oh, there are raspberries too. But next time I won’t use frozen raspberries for decorating.. they’re not too pretty (they went moldy too!) And perhaps as they melted overnight, that was what caused the moisture ontop of the cake…. oh well!

It went pretty well at baking club but by getting there at 1230 so that I could be there for when the 1pm people arrived, the 12pm people were already full! It took some prompting to get people to eat more, and some volunteers to take chunks home, but most of it was taken care of.. leaving only the muffins and heart-tarts in the house.

The next day I had nothing planned and decided to try out one of the macarons recipes. One which didn’t require any weird ingredients.. Salted butter popcorn was my choice, but the task was to find some almondmeal.. not many stores are open on Good Friday! I took my bike for a zip around the suburb and eventually came across a shop.. charging $40/kg for almondmeal!!! The things I do for.. myself? The recipe is the same as what I’m used to (Italian version, but that’s easy now), but with different proportions. As he’s an Australian chef, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to make my own adjustments to the amount of almondmeal like before which I believe was due to humidity factors or something.. perhaps almondmeal is just different overseas.

Anyway, it worked like a charm! had to bake the second tray for longer than indicated, as the first ones lost their guts. Also, the recipe says 130 degrees which I find quite low, but in a video of Adriano he refers to 150.. so I might try that next time? their feet weren’t amazing, which I think had to do with the temperature.

I was really impressed with the filling.. partly because it let me use up the leftover egg yolks! but also because it tasted like popcorn!! well, the butter part anyway- that’s for sure. I found that the more salt I added the less it amazed me as popcorny, but my housemates recommended it. Hopefully they will last until french on Tuesday- we’re having a bit of a party since it’s our last session for the term (ridiculous!!!!!!)

Can’t wait to try out the other fillings!! Maybe even some fancy cakes!

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