Tortoise Thursday

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise

Thursday is my day for reptile sightings. I was in my garage this afternoon and heard a strange scrabbling noise. I looked down to spy a Florida Gopher Tortoise trucking down my driveway, heading into my garage. I quickly closed the garage door, which makes a racket, the tortoise just watched it come down and kept going.

These are burrowing tortoises and share their burrows with more than 300 other species, including rattlesnakes. They are a protected species in Florida and permits must be procured to develop a site where there are Gopher Tortoises. There are some empty lots nearby and I am guessing that is home for this one.

I finally got him or her pointed in the right direction and he headed for home, I hope.

Middle Age Baking – The Saga of the Guinness Cake

The Guinness Cake

The Guinness Cake

An old friend recently posted a picture on Facebook of a Chocolate Cake made with Guinness Stout (topped with Cream Cheese Frosting)

Being an affirmed chocolate lover, the pictures and the recipe sounded great; so I decided to try the cake.

Not being a Stout drinker, I needed a single beer. Well, Jensen Beach, Florida, to a certain extent, is the end of the earth, so finding a single Guinness Stout was a bit of a challenge, but I did it. Then realized I had no cocoa powder, sour cream or cream cheese.

Having collected the ingredients I set out to the library – the reason, a nearly overdue book. The second thoughts kicked in, does my refrigerator contain 10 tablespoons of butter? Better stop and get some extra. After a trip to Winn Dixie, the butter dilemma was solved. I started baking.

The first thing needed, a nine inch springform pan. I decided to measure mine, 10 inches and clearly something bad had happened to it during our move to Florida. Am I the only person in the world who uses an Engineers scale to cook? (type of ruler used by civil engineers) Put it in the sink to soak for a minute-nothing happened cementitous crud so stuck I need to get a new springform pan. Time to get out the two nine inch cake pans. I used my trusty Engineers scale to verify.

Having significantly misplaced my reading glasses – I read the ingredients and not the directions for the cake. Decided to heat the butter and cream it with the sugar, which I did. Then found the glasses and read I should melt the butter and add the Guinness – too late. I added the Guinness to the butter sugar mixture and chunks of Guinness foam sugary butter immediately floated to the top in the oddest baking misadventure I  have had to date. Imagine, Guinness stout as gigantic cottage cheese curds.

At this moment, I had a “what the hell” thought, added the dry ingredients, turned the mixer on and proceeded to not follow any directions and put the actually lovely batter into two (gasp) cake pans. Winged the cooking times and ended up with a two layer cake. Divided the frosting and finished the cake.

It was divine. I think it needs a layer of strawberry jam in the middle. Nigella describes the cake as not tasting like the stout, but having a ferrous tang. I am still contemplating that.

It is a really good cake. Here is a link to the recipe. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1875-chocolate-guinness-cake