This week I have signed up for two local Christmas fairs. I was otherwise engaged during Christmas Fair season last year, with the Baby being born at the end of November. But I'm all over it this year. And planning to start making Christmas puddings at the beginning of September. It's the perfect excuse for a spreadsheet and wall chart. I soak the fruit I use in brandy for a week before it goes into the puddings, and so with two fairs, my regular markets, a corporate client wanting 50 for his customers, and mail order and local delivery, I need a plan, and probably a clipboard. But sadly no call for a headset as yet.
However the summer is properly here, and before brandy and dried fruit become a daily obsession, the grass court season will soon be upon us. Yes, tennis is another passion of mine, alongside breeding at an epic rate, and eventing, and last year I launched the strawberries and cream muffin for Queens and Wimbledon. Andy won both, and we could all feel patriotic for a few weeks. In case anyone isn't following the clay court season, but remains optimistic of a repeat performance...it's not looking good so far.
Once upon a time I had a disposable income, no children, and a not-so-secret love of gambling. I was known as the Silent Assassin at the Poker table. A day at the races was commonplace. I also had an online Ladbrokes account (other sites are available), and used to bet on tennis matches. We still rue the day about 10 years ago I backed Rafa to win Wimbledon at 35-1. He made the final, and if only I'd gone each way... I suspect my account has expired by now. But if I did have one, my money would be on Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem making the final at Wimbledon this year. Definitely go each way on Thiem though...
So yesterday we had friends round for supper, and here is a picture of a chocolate cheesecake I made. It used to be a dinner party staple, but this was my first attempt in the Aga. I decorated it with raspberries to try and hide the fact it had cracked when it came out. They weren't stupid, they saw past the fruit. But despite the cracks it was rather delicious. So here is the recipe (which I am fairly sure came from Mary Berry originally, but I adapted for a two-oven Aga):
150g plain chocolate digestives, crushed
75g butter, melted
100g plain chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
600g full fat soft cheese
150g caster sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla essence
1. Lightly grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin
2. Mix base ingredients together and press in
3. Melt chocolate in a bain marie (or in the bottom of the simmering oven), cool slightly
4. Beat cheese until soft. Add sugar, beat again, then beat in the the eggs and vanilla essence. Add chocolate and beat again.
5. Bake for 20 mins on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven, with the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners. Then transfer the cold plain shelf to the middle of the simmering oven and bake the cheesecake for another 20 minutes on top of it.
6. Remove from oven, weep when it cracks, then chill in the fridge for a few hours.
It will still be very wobbly in the middle when it comes out of the oven, that's fine (although it probably does explain the cracks...)
For a regular oven, I'd try 160/325/mark 3 for 30 mins, and then turn oven off and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven (and you almost certainly won't have cracks).