In my family, Easter comes very close to taking precedence over Christmas. An outrageous statement to some; you don’t get presents, you don’t have roast turkey, there are no carols… I take your carols, and raise you chocolate. And roast lamb. Food is important in this family.
Don’t get me wrong, food is a priority year round, but around this time of year, it really takes centre stage, particularly when the Family Friends come to stay. This is usually the point when the Mothership goes into overdrive and plans the weekend of the century in terms of food. It is generally assumed that the rest of our time will be spent either sleeping off said food or walking the dog in preparation for more food.
This year was no exception. The Family Friends duly announced their arrival, and the planning begins. Three hours are spent pondering over whether we should try something other than roast lamb to impress and surprise, before the family rises up in protest and demands lamb. Lamb it is. Do we go with Heston’s anchovy-infested leg? Mother says yes, family says no. Mothership wins but forgets anchovies on the shopping list. Mother – 0, Family – 2.
Family Friends arrive laden with cakes, Florentines, out-of-date figgy pudding and fresh ideas on Heston’s lamb (but luckily no anchovies).
Family Friends have a brilliant chef in their midst who asks, somewhat foolishly, if she can bring anything along. One phone call later and Family Friends arrive laden with cakes, Florentines, out-of-date figgy pudding and fresh ideas on Heston’s lamb, but luckily no anchovies. Fathers swiftly retire to the back room to look at wine and avoid their wives’ incessant chat.
So far this weekend I have sampled six different cakes and four puddings. To the distress of various good and foolish people who gave up chocolate for Lent, tiramisu was served, shock horror, last night, before the end of Lent. The dilemma they faced.
Today’s pudding however holds no difficulties for those who have decided to make their lives that little bit worse by giving up chocolate; it is a fresh, light, and generally superb pudding to follow a large roast. I present my mother’s hazelnut roulade, because I have learnt you should always trust your mother in these matters. It has technical moments, but these are paid back in full in the awe of the recipients.
6oz chopped hazelnuts
4oz caster sugar
4 eggs (separated)
A “generous splash” of brandy
2 punnets of raspberries
½ pint double cream
1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a Swiss roll tin (on the assumption that you are on holiday, read at home with access to superior utensils than at university)
2. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks and set aside. Clean the whisk well before doing the next bit.
3. Whisk egg yolks and caster sugar together, add the brandy and chopped hazelnuts and carefully fold in the egg whites using a metal spoon.
4. Spread into the tin and cook for about 15 mins until slightly golden and spongy. Not too much otherwise it will break later. Leave to cool.
5. Whip cream and prepare for the Tricky Bit.
6. Flip the roulade onto a piece of baking paper sprinkled with icing sugar. Spread with cream and scatter raspberries artfully across. Roll the roulade along the long side, so you have a log. Sprinkle with more icing sugar to disguise any cracks that may have appeared, and serve to awed audience.