Back in Scotland!

Hello all!  Admittedly I am not just back in Scotland, I have been home for two weeks.  The tough part of student life has to happen at some point however, and I am in full throttle exam revision at the moment.  However, I have missed Sam Loves Cake so much that I decided to take a quick break from the books!

Jamaica was incredible.  It is such a beautiful country and I had a great experience over there!  My last two nights there were sadly spent writing two reports with the rest of my class by the pool – literally by the pool.  We had to hand them in before we boarded the flight and we couldn’t start writing them until the second last day! Ah so stressful – especially when the tourist resort next door to us had Gangnam Style on repeat for the holidaymakers – I do not want to hear that song ever again.  But we did it.  And we started a new tradition!  As soon as anybody finished their report they had to do a fully clothed canon ball into the pool!  I was second finished (but first to canon ball) at midnight, the night before we left.  That was such a satisfying canon ball!

The lab we worked in, Discovery Bay.
The lab we worked in, Discovery Bay.
Busy market in Brown's Town.
Busy market in Brown’s Town.
The famous Dunn's River Falls which I climbed!
The famous Dunn’s River Falls which I climbed!
This is me taking a current reading of a very dry stream.
This is me taking a current reading of a very dry stream.
A beautiful cave river in central Jamaica, very special spot.
A beautiful cave river in central Jamaica, very special spot.
Locals at the Priory Beach party, amazing dancing!
Locals at the Priory Beach party, amazing dancing!
With my science friends!
With my science friends!
The pool we canon balled into!
The pool we canon balled into!
Beautiful Runaway Bay.
Beautiful Runaway Bay.

 

Sadly that is all done and over now.  I am back in Scotland and have seen the sunshine only once since I got back.  It was lovely to see my friends and family again though!  And I got to meet our new puppy Woodruff for the first time!  He is gorgeous, but wild.  Last Friday my brother came round with his band to listen to their new album, and it happened to be my brother’s birthday weekend.  My Mum baked a chocolate cake and asked me to decorate it with malteasers – my brother’s favourite chocolate.  It was strange being back in the apron after two weeks of jungle and beach.  I also ran out of malteasers, so had to crack open the bag that I had actually bought my brother as part of his birthday present! Oh well he still got to eat them right?  We decided not to make this cake his birthday cake, but a cake celebrating the whole band.  Just a well because my sister-in-law baked and brought his cake!

The tape on top is vintage (I hope my brother doesn't read this!).
The tape on top is vintage (I hope my brother doesn’t read this!).

So now that I’ve caught up, time to share what I did in the kitchen today!  I had the urge to bake something this morning, but of course the right ingredients weren’t in, I had to study, blah blah blah.  Also, while I was away, my Mum installed a new cooker.  I was a little bit reluctant to try it out straight away since I was so used to our old inefficient oven.  So yes, I think this was holding me back from diving straight back into the baking.  So, all of these factors combined, I decided to do a little experiment.  I went to pick something up at the supermarket and I came across these:

I went against my values and did a cake mix experiment!
I went against my values and did a cake mix experiment!

What caught my eye about these mixes was A) they were stored in the refrigerated section and B) they were on offer of course!  Now I had cake on the brain, but I knew I didn’t have time or money to buy a whole set of ingredients and bake cakes.  Then I thought about the new oven and decided what better way to learn how the oven works than to throw in some low effort, low cost cake mix?  Plus, I was a little bit curious.  What would they actually taste like?

Well, my experience with them made me really happy that I bake cakes from scratch.  I did not have fun, or feel like I’d actually made something when I pulled the result out of the oven.  Therefore, I thought, why bother buying the mixes?  Why do people not just buy the finished cake that is sitting in the next aisle?  Especially with these refrigerated ones.  That of course meant I did not even have to add eggs or mix anything with a spoon – where is the fun in that?  I literally opened the lid, spooned the mix into a pan and stuck it into the oven.  What a monumentous waste of time (except of course that I learned how to use the new oven).  At least the traditional cake mixes I used when I was a child were dry.  You had to add the wet ingredients and beat the mixture – it was baking for kids.  It was still convenient, but worthwhile.  You would honestly be better just buying the finished cake than use these new ready mixes.

I wish I had just bought one of the old Tom and Jerry cupcake kits.  They were much more fun, and I felt safe licking the spoon!  Oh but how did they taste?  Well, the victoria sponge was perfectly edible.  I whipped up some sweet cream filling and put in some jam, but the sponges were very very thin, despite that I used the recommended pan size.  I decided against putting up a picture, the cake looked a bit sad.  The chocolate muffins in my opinion were a little dry and definitely not moreish.  My Mum said they were okay though. I think given their cost, they are what you would expect to be honest.  And I will admit, the tiny amount of clean up involved was nice!

So my final verdict: cake mixes are very convenient if you don’t bake regularly; but it is much more worthwhile to buy a dry cake mix as it tastes better and you can actually contribute to the making of it – the wet cake mix is pointless, you are only putting something in an oven, no fun involved, so why not just buy the yummy finished product instead?  But I do really have a craving for one of those Tom and Jerry cupcake kits now.  Do you have a go to cake mix in a hurry?

Once my last exam is finished this week I am getting stuck into some serious baking!  I will be going to Mexico for six weeks this summer, so I want to build up some material to share while I’m away.  Plus, I bought a few new cake books and I have some great new flavours to try out.  I can’t wait!

Happy Baking!

Eve x

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