My brother’s 25th birthday cake, (it’s VEGAN!) and general updates.
WOW! It has been so so long since I blogged on here. Lots has been happening that has filled my time up to the very brim, often overflowing into sleep time too!
Most notably – I got a job! I’m now a chef in a vegetarian restaurant just over an hour away from my parents house. Tomorrow will be the start of my 4th full week, (notice I stopped blogging as I got the job almost to the day) so I am feeling a bit more settled now and a little less exhausted. At the moment I am commuting from my parents every day so I leave a couple of hours before I start work to make sure I have time to park, and walk from there to work in plenty of time and usually I’m home about 90 minutes after I finish, so a 10 hour shift rapidly becomes being out the house for 14 hours.
When I got the job I’d had my car about a month and probably not even driven 5 miles in it, I passed my test 3 years ago but never could afford, or needed a car, so I was a very nervous driver and driving by myself terrified me, but since I often don’t leave until gone 11pm, there wasn’t any other options if I wanted the job. Now, I drive 100 miles at least 5 times a week and quite enjoy it. I have a 1999 Nissan Micra, he is called Norbert Morris (Norb for short) and if anyone ever installed a secret camera to watch me driving I would most likely be sectioned, I talk to him, sing really loudly and badly to keep myself awake on the journeys home and on my first week I nearly cried when I saw a dead badger at the side of the road. 😦
I am really enjoying being a chef though, I don’t feel I can really call myself a chef as I don’t have any qualifications and very little experience in a professional kitchen, but as I am cooking food and serving it in a restaurant I guess I am. I decided I would love to pursue a career in catering after I catered for 30 at a Buddhist retreat centre for a week in Canada while I was traveling (the chef quit and the backup chef got sick so I was the last minute emergency help). I had looked into apprenticeships and going back to school but there weren’t any local apprenticeships I was interested in, and on an apprenticeship wage of £80 a week, living out wouldn’t really be an option and they often involve working with meat which I’m not keen to do. So in an afternoon of desperation knowing Christmas was 6 weeks away and I really needed a pay check before then, and preferably a bit of direction in my life I googled “vegetarian chef jobs” and the #1 hit was a restaurant not far from me, I sent them a rough email in the ‘contact us’ section and thought nothing of it. Later that day I got a phone call asking me to go in for an interview the following back, the day after I got the job, 2 days later I was getting training and the following day was my first shift. As you can see it moved really quickly and I have been constantly tired yet motivated and fulfilled since.
Although the restaurant isn’t vegan they do mainly vegan dishes and also concentrate a lot on gluten-free and raw options and are 100% vegetarian. In the future I would love to open a restaurant or cafe for myself so I am enjoying learning everything I possibly could about the business and how to run a professional kitchen.
What else have I been doing? I did an amazing Christmas cookery course in November at El Piano in York. It’s a great restaurant which is 100% vegan and gluten free, and while I was visiting with my mum in September she offered to pay for the course and my transport if I cooked Christmas dinner, which I wanted to do anyway so I think I lucked out there. I also got to meet lots of lovely people, including the ever so nice myyorkshirepudding.wordpress.com – she gave me a lovely tour of York in our break which was really good fun!
Last Monday my big brother turned 25, which not only gave me great opportunities to ridicule him for being half way to 50 and pop up all day with inspiring, loving comments – “Luke, at the very best, you’re a quarter of the way through your life, how does that feel?” “In Dog years you are now 115!” all day, but more importantly I got to make CAKE. Actually, I got to make my first ever proper vegan cake, and my first ever vegan birthday cake, so it was quite exciting. Luckily his birthday fell on a day off so I dedicated my whole day to finding a recipe, shopping for ingredients and baking, oh how I love baking.
Here is the finished product, with 25 candles dutifully counted and added,
I got the recipe from the wonderful Debbie at her Maple Spice blog. Her cake and recipe are here, and also check out this fabulous ‘vegan burger cake‘ she did for her sons birthday the year before, just incredible! As you can see her chocolate mousse cake was topped with very elegant, handmade white chocolate swirls, however as I was unable to find any white chocolate, nor do I have a cheese slice I opted for some freeze-dried strawberry on top of mine, which was a lot easier and I think (hope) it still looked nice, albeit not quite as fancy.
The tin I used was quite a bit shallower than the one Debbie used in her recipe, so when I was using it to re-layer the cake with the mousse I had to push it down a lot, hence the mousse kind of exploded everywhere like this
But once it was iced and cut you couldn’t tell so it didn’t matter. I should add, this chocolate mousse it just amazing, my favourite part of the cake and that is coming from someone who asked for a plain vanilla sponge on her 10th birthday as I didn’t, and still don’t really like icing.
I used a spatula to smooth the icing around the sides and actually I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out, a lot neater than I imagined. Although the mixture was so smooth and easy to work with I really can’t take all the credit.
Until I started searching for vegan birthday cake ideas I hadn’t seen the Maple Spice blog before, but it has so many amazing vegan recipes, both savoury and lots of sweet treats too. I don’t have any more birthday’s until my Dad’s in April now so I think I’ll have to make a Christmas cake, or New Year cake to practice in the mean time. 🙂
Once more the recipe for this cake is here if you want to try it yourself.
Are you familiar with Maple Spice, who is your go-to vegan blogger? Do you have any other great vegan cake recipes? 🙂