Friday, August 12, 2011

British Baking Part 14: A Horse is a Horse

My many trips to Scotland over the years have yielded me many Horsey friends.  Long before my son, I was merely a Golf Widow, and took pleasure in riding horses in the countryside.  Last year, 2010, my first trip back after giving birth to my son, I did not want to ride as much.  To tell the truth, it was just too painful.  My husband and mother seemed to worry that I would never ride again, but I knew that that would never be true.  I simply adore horses, I just needed time to recoup.

Riding gives me this feeling of freedom.  I would imagine that it is the way some people feel about riding a motorcycle, but to me it has to be much better.  Horses are living, breathing creatures with their own personalities and souls.  Riding links the past and the present and connects me again to nature, in a way that a motorcycle probably could not.  For part of our honeymoon, my husband and I stayed in Porlock Vale, England, and I galloped across Exmoor National Park through the hills of heather looking out across the water seeing Wales in the distance.  It is rare to feel that alive.

Some of my most beloved memories involve horses, and almost always have been abroad.  I learned to ride and jump formally in the States in Poolesville, Maryland.  My husband and I rode through a vineyard in California, and I rode in the Hollywood Hills and saw coyotes.  In Virginia, we have ridden around Luray, and have gone out with a Hunter (picture: bugles, foxes and hounds) (an experience I will not repeat).  I've ridden in Marbella, Spain, on the beach in Grand Cayman, and in Mexico.  But it seems that the most dear experiences to me have been in the UK.

My senior year of high school in Mexico.
Yes, it was a questionable decision to wear shorts riding, but it was VERY HOT.

The hubby and I being all lovey-dovey in a Californian Vineyard.

On my very first trip to Scotland I went to ride at Broomhill Riding Centre on the Black Isle.  There I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Anderson and riding with her daughter Lorna.  Lorna is my age, has traveled to America several times, and we managed to stay in touch over the years.  While riding we have had little philosophical conversations, and have watch each other get married and start families.  On this trip over, we did not ride together, but I learned of the passing of my favorite horse, Opera, whom I galloped down the beach and won many races on (sorry Lorna- wink, wink.).  Happily though, I learned of Lorna's pregnancy and she met my son.  It was amazing to have seen how our lives have changed, and how much we have *gulp* grown-up.

The Author and Lorna

The darling little girl below is Anna (pictured years ago, she is now almost 11).  Her family lives in Inverness and knows Lorna and the Andersen family.  They also have an apartment in Brora which happens to be right next door to ours.  That's right, they are our next door neighbors (small world).  Anna will feature in many blogs that are yet to come, but this is a brief introduction here:

Once we were in my apartment plaiting each other's hair, and looking at Horsey magazines when she decided to draw me a picture.

It was the profile of a brown horse pooping.

With its tail up and all!  Quite authentic.

I about died of laughter and kept that piece of paper (which I still have to this day). 

I adore this girl.

Another person that I have met and ridden with over the years is Kirsteen.  She is a protege of Diane M. (much more about Diane below).  This year, in a brave move, she open her own wonderful riding centre in Brora, Star Stables (she is only 20!)  She is sweet, has a great sense of humour, and is extremely professional and mature beyond her age.  This year we rode out along River Brora and had the most amazingly, brilliant canters through the fields.

It also must be said that she is wonderful at herding cows, and must come out West and ride with the "real" cowboys here ;-)
Kirsteen's horse Zara.
She suits me perfectly.
Apparently, I bond well with white mares (just like Opera).

I <3 Zara

Another Horsey person who is very dear to me, who I have dubbed my Scottish Mom, is Diane.  She opened a riding school, about 5 minutes from our apartment in Brora, and I love every moment I have spent with her and her beautiful horses, two of my favorites being Hamish and more recently, Bud.  I was in Scotland for Diane's birthday this year and I decided I wanted to bake for her.  I asked Diane what desserts she liked to get ideas of what to make her and this is how she replied:

Diane: "I like apple pie, apple crumble, blueberry pie, peach pie, rhubarb pie, Well, any kind of pie.
I like sticky toffee pudding, chocolate cake, brownies.
(Huge intake of air).
Oh, and  banoffi pie, shortbread..."
And then, I lost track.

It is safe to say that this woman loves dessert.

I knew there was a reason beside the fact that she is wonderful, sweet, kind and generous; and even beyond the fact that she loves horses: she, like me, has a serious sweet tooth!

This is the fabulous Diane.

So, this is what I came up with step-by-step/ tutorial style for her birthday.  It is very easy and very "loving hands at home."  Meaning that it was fast, cute, and very do-able for a beginner.

So give it a shot!

I want to make her a horsey cake. 
I roughly sketch the outline of a horse head after
 cutting paper out  the size of the cake I made.
This is called Doing the Best You Can with What You Got.
I have a cheap pie tin, I need to cut the sides down in order to take a knife to it
and to get the cake out of the pan without breaking it.

So, cut out the horse outline and place it on top of the cake.

After peeling off the outline, the cake loses the top layer,
 just be careful doing this, you don't want to lose too much.
Use a serrated knife to cut around your outline (do this when your cake is 100% cool).

Transfer carefully to cake board, or in this case cutting board.
See: Doing the Best You Can with What You Got

Stir chocolate buttercream, should be around room temperature,
not fresh from the fridge, as it would be too hard to spread.

Starting with the brown background first, put a big glob of icing around the middle and slowly spread towards the outside of the cake.  Be careful not to get too many crumbs on your knife or in your icing. 
Keep wiping your knife off to remove crumbs.
If not, your cake will look crumby, literally.
Then add a little vanilla buttercream to your chocolate
 to make a lighter brown for the mane, then pipe it on.

I used melted chocolate on greaseproof paper (wax paper)
 to make ears, eyes, and nostrils.
See picture below.

And there you have it.  A Horsey cake in a flash.


  1. Thanks for that
    Lots of love from Anna

  2. Anna-
    I am so happy you liked it. We miss you guys already. You are going to be in 2 more blogs, so you'll have to stay tuned :-)