Saturday 8 September 2018

Rose Hip Syrup and Chocolate Cupcakes

Today was a busy day: laundry, going out for a walk with B.A., preparing a reception-and-confirmation party for a Catholic friend's suddenly no-longer-Protestant husband, and making rosehip  syrup!

I'm not sure yet the syrup has worked (it's still hot), but here is the recipe I followed. I made only half a batch, though, as I had only half a kilo of rosehips, harvested from a mild pruning I did on Thursday evening. It is early yet in the season for cooking with rosehips--normally you're not supposed to pick them until after a frost--so I put Thursday's crop in the freezer.

Rosehip syrup depends on added sugar, unfortunately. However, it is also a fantastic source of Vitamin C: "20 times more ... than you find in oranges," claims the recipe.

From clicking around on the "Rosehips FAQ", I see that our roses aren't dog roses after all but "rosa rugosa" or Japanese roses.  Maybe after the first frost, I will gather proper "rosa canina" hips and see if they taste differently.

I am interested in drying rosehips for tea, so that I can get all that lovely Vitamin C without having to consume added sugar, too.

My friend's husband became a Catholic according to the Traditional Rite, which involves a very legal sounding enquiry into the soon-to-be-ex-Protestant's beliefs. Our new brother had to declare his belief  specifically in the SEVEN sacraments, in the Bishop of Rome being the Vicar of Christ, and in everything taught by the Roman Catholic Church. Our FSSP chaplain, having been given the authority by the Bishop both to receive our new brother and to confirm him, officially (and in Latin) freed him from the excommunication he had incurred by being in schism--which he presumably has been in since the Sunday after his seventh birthday came and went without him going to the Most Holy and August Sacrifice of the Mass but some Presbyterian jamboree instead.

Afterwards we had gin or champagne, crisps, ham and cheese on Polish rye, cucumber on white, miniature Melton Mowbray pies, carrots with hummus and dip, and chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing.

I made these last while answering my friend's questions about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune B.A. and I have suffered since the Deluge drove us from the Historical House. We also discussed the Church Situation. (My friend's husband was having some last minute catechesis top-up in the Modern Art Gallery with his Confirmation Sponsor B.A.) The problem there is that I cannot bake or cook very easily if I have to talk or listen to someone, too. I am not good at multi-tasking, especially not in the kitchen. It drives me absolutely insane if B.A. or any other talkative man is in the kitchen when I have to cook, bake or wash dishes in it. So far the one-and-only exception to this rule is Polish Pretend Son, who doesn't talk as much as harangue, e.g. "THIS isn't keto!"

This was my first attempt at cake with the new oven, and not having time to look up a Canadian recipe, I mostly improvised. The ratios for British cake are super-easy--equal parts butter, sugar and flour--but British cake tends to be a bit flat. Trying to remember how to make a proper Canadian cake batter while talking was terribly difficult, and I am not sure the solution to the texture not looking exactly right was simply to add another egg. However, the cupcakes did rise, and if they were on the more conservative side of sweet (thanks to years of baking cakes with Polish tastes in mind, I tend to skimp on sugar), I made up for that with the icing.

All the same, I very much wish I had a copy of my mother's principal cookbook. For some reason that has never been adequately explained, my mother gave the extra copy to my brother Nulli instead of to me. As I live in a place that has famously been denounced as "a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island", I am sure I need to make Black Midnight Cake and Real Red Devil Cake and all those splendid 1950s-1970s cake a lot more often than Nulli does.

Update: I saw too late that rosa rugosa hips are not ideal for syrup. Sigh. Live and learn.

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