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||Dear Mr Nicey|
I do enjoy your site. I'm sitting here with a nice cup of green Lapsan Souchon from a specialist tea supplier on the New South Wales central coast (Cesar's) and a dark chocolate Tim Tam. (My daughter has eaten all the Tia Maria Tim Tams which I was planning to suck with a fresh brew of Cesar's Cuban Supreme coffee, but that's life as mother of a teenager.)
I am wondering whether you can help me. I spent two wonderful years on a working holiday in London back in the early '70s. During that time I became very fond of McVitie's ginger cake. I have never been able to find a suitable substitute here in Australia and despite many years of experimenting with various recipes I have never succeeded in recreating that wonderful combination of light texture, slight stickyness and rich, dark colour. If you consider it appropriate, I would be eternally in your debt if my plea for a recipe that simulates the McVitie creation could be posted on your site.
With best wishes
|Nicey replies: Jenni,
I can understand your plight, being stuck in a sub-tropical paradise, wanting nothing more than a slice of ginger cake from Halifax. Also as for a slight stickyness, perhaps its a fond 30 years of memory playing tricks, but the outside is the cake is like a blend of syrup and carpet tile adhesive, and will only usually be parted from its paper case if threatened with some sort of knife. All part of its unique charm of course.
As for a recipe, I don't hold out much hope. These things usually can only be made given the correct industrial cake plant. Maybe somebody will bring you one, but it might not take well to confinement in a suitcase.
||Dear Nicey and the wife,|
I read with interest Jenny Hall's letter expressing her confusion over the two types of snowball.
As a young child, I spent time in both Ireland and England and was introduced to both types of snowball. The Irish version was like the Scottish snowball described by Jenny, consisting of two hemispheres of a dry, crumbly cake sandwiched together with jam and covered with coconut. These were extremely difficult to eat, being too big to fit into a child-sized mouth and too crumbly to attempt without the aid of a plate. This was very definitely a cake.
The English version, as I recall, consisted of a mound of soft, slightly chewy mallow, coated in milk chocolate and covered with the obligatory coconut. This version contained no biscuit and therefore falls outside the biscuit category. I would also hesitate to call it a cake since it contained no cake-like substance.
There was a third type of snowball which I encountered later in life and this may be the one which you described. It consisted of a soft biscuit base topped with a mound of mallow which, if memory serves, was half pink and half white. The mallow was topped with coconut and the biscuit base coated in chocolate.
As for determining the difference between a cake and a biscuit, my local supermarket has separate isles for cakes and biscuits. Anything which can be found in the biscuit isle (including Tunnocks tea cakes) is a biscuit.
|Nicey replies: Morning Kieth,
Good pragmatic approach there. Of course when they rearrange the aisles ones entire belief system can come crashing down around ones ears.
||Dear Nicey and co|
I was in a bit of a panic having read the article about the silver balls, but having rushed to my cooking cupboard, am relieved to find that I have been using "Rainbow Pearls" (pink, green, blue and silver balls) from Fiddes Panne Cake Decorations, and they contain "sugar, wheat starch, arabic gum, colours (E100, E124, E133, E174)", so I think that's OK. Was a bit worried about all the children I might have accidentally poisoned, especially since The Husband is a Solicitor.
Keep up the good investigative journalism!
Best wishes to all
|Nicey replies: Yes that is reassuring except that E174 is Silver, the rest are all fairly standard.
Naturally occurring orange/yellow colour, extracted from the spice turmeric
A synthetic coal tar dye, red in colour
A synthetic coal tar dye, blue in colour. Often mixed with E102 to make green.
||I was searching for the name of those silver balls for Tim and found this article. I don't know if they would have the same name in the UK or be as "toxic"|
|Nicey replies: Right I think we'll be giving those a miss from here on in.
||I wish someone hadn't started on about those really hard shiny edible ballbearing things.|
Now I can't work because I'm racking my brains for the name of them. Mum used to use them for cake toppings and I can remember them having a name like 'arachnids' or 'echniacea' - though of course, neither of these are it.
I can remember being very scared that I was putting something silver yet edible in my mouth, and thought I might get lead poisoning. Not bad at the age of 7. This is around the same time that I thought saying "dammy jodger" instead of Jammy Dodger was really rude.
So please can someone tell me what the silver balls are called so I can get back to work?