During the holidays, as usual, I’m in Henderson at Anthem Country Club, the gated community where Michael and I last lived. Over Thanksgiving however, it was Bishop, a five-hour drive across the state line and through Death Valley, for family time. I hadn’t seen Emma and Clara since May. In grandmother hours, that’s a really long time.
So after finally arriving and giving both girls giant hugs, it wasn’t particularly prudent that the first thing out of my mouth was, “When I turned into the driveway I saw those absolutely gorgeous shelf mushrooms on the poplar trees. Don’t you love their look?”
Moment. Foot. Mouth. (C’mon, Readers, you’ve had them.) Stephen, my mild-mannered and soft-spoken son-in-law doesn’t own a scowl face. He doesn’t grimace. “I don’t like them,” he said, with a scowl-grimace combo. “They’re killing my trees.”
The girls stopped with the hugging. I sensed eye-rolls but knew their mother had forbidden them to ‘give eye rolls to Grandma.’
As for Melissa, I got an I-don’t-like-‘em-either “Ugh,” followed by “Hi, Mom.”
Although Thanksgiving ended well, the beginning, not so good. Emphasizing the holiday spirit theme, I pointed out that shelf mushrooms are actually called Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor). They are very common throughout North America, popping up everywhere in overlapping clusters on dead hardwood rotting stumps and logs. While this fungus did not kill Stephen’s poplars, blame that on their 30-50 year time span and California’s drought, they certainly don’t help.
Nature lesson over. Subject closed. Not to be discussed again.
JUST ROLL WITH IT
It was my October trip across the pond that finally persuaded me to begin streaming The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Now it’s an addiction, watching twelve U.K. amateur bakers tackle 30 different recipes throughout a 10 episodes season. The show is light-hearted and very British in a Jolly Good, Mind the Gap manner. In Episode 1 the challenge was a Swiss Roll, a jelly or cake roll which is a sponge cake roll filled with whipped cream, jam, or icing. As we already realize, I am a rung or two down the ladder from laying claim to being an accomplished amateur baker.
However with a stiff upper lip, after watching that first episode twice, I found a recipe calling my name, Gingerbread Cake Roll with Eggnog Whipped Cream. It is my first attempt you see pictured in today’s blog. Readers, it took bravery to feature Attempt #1 with its failings rather than Attempt #2 which was a personal triumph and now placed safely in the freezer for a later celebration. These photos and post walk you through the learning curve.
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa or not at all, this is my gift to you. Don’t accept your limitations. Be open to NEW and try DIFFERENT. Perfection isn’t always the goal, as evidenced by this first cake roll. It’s the process.
“SO MUCH OF LIFE IS WHAT YOU ROLL and WHERE YOU LAND.” Mark Hamill
GINGERBREAD CAKE ROLL WITH EGGNOG WHIPPED CREAM adapted from Dorothy at Crazy for Crust Blog
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons eggnog (added 1 TBS at a time)
*If you are serving the roll immediately, save a small amount of filling for the top.
1. Line a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan with 1” sides with foil or parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray with flour added.
2. Beat eggs at high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar, applesauce, and molasses.
3. Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt. Add to other mixture.
4. Spread evenly into pan. Gently hit/bang the pan against the counter to remove air bubbles.
5. Bake at 350°F for 8-12 minutes. Begin checking the cake at 10 minutes. You want to make sure your cake is done. A toothpick should come out completely clean. A roll must be just baked but NOT over baked which makes them roll easier and prevents cracking. Although my first cake didn’t crack, it was dry, over-baked. Ten minutes is the magic number.
6. Carefully turn out the cake immediately onto parchment paper or thin kitchen towel. Starting at the narrow end, roll parchment paper or towel and hot cake together.
7. Cool completely. Cooling will take at least 2 hours. Once the cake is cool, carefully unroll it.
8. Beat cold heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer at medium speed with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) until soft peaks form. This usually takes about 2-4 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Slowly add eggnog 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff peaks form but be careful not to over whip.
9. Although I did not do this with cake #1, grab your 12” ruler and a sharp paring knife and slightly trim away the edges of the four sides which tend to be crusty.
10. Spread evenly about 1/2 to 3/4 whipped cream over all the top of the cake, only leaving an edge at one end without frosting. Starting at the narrow end that is frosted, re-roll the cake tightly into a log. As you roll it up some filling may spill out. Have a knife handy to scrape off any excess but not to worry, you will trim off the ends before serving.
11. At this point you can wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready, place cake on serving plate and top with some of the remaining whipped cream or frost the entire top of the roll and dust with cinnamon or lightly dust with powdered sugar. Trim off the ends for a prettier look.
12. Slice and serve.
1. Refrigerate your mixing bowl and beaters 30-minutes to an hour before making the filling.
2. Because the roll, without the decorative top, can be made and refrigerated for up to two days, you will need to make some additional whipped cream (heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar) for the topping, Using more eggnog is optional.
“EACH NEW DAY HAS a DIFFERENT SHAPE to IT. YOU JUST ROLL with IT.” Ben Zobrist