Marshmallows and Mayhem


Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

It appears I cannot bake.

On Wednesday night my school is holding a Highland Games. If the weather is good (you never can tell in Scotland) we expect around 5,000 people to turn up. Exciting stuff! Miss McDonald is hosting a tea-room tent and has asked for lots of baking donations from the school’s staff. Being the keen cook that I am, I happily announced that I would be delighted to make a large amount of goodies.

It is now clear to me that I didn’t really think this offer through… I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, therefore, do not bake at home. Ever. I wasn’t terribly concerned about this. Yes, I’d heard that baking is a science but, arrogantly, I didn’t believe it! I can cook, thought I, therefore I can bake.


The brownies I made, Nigella Lawson recipe, are inedibly rich.

Though my carrot cake mixture came together nicely I ruined it with the genius idea of baking them in a muffin tin. Individual carrot cakes – cute, right? On placing the filled tin in the oven the mixture expanded and overflowed all over the tray creating a bubbling sticky layer all over the tin which dribbled over the sides hissing as it hit my new CLEAN oven’s base.

My fairy cake mixture melted in the heat as I was trying to rescue the carrot cake(s) and was reduced to a greasy juice. Didn’t even try to bake that.

And finally, I attempted to make vegetarian marshmallows using agar agar rather than gelatin. Fishy marshmallow anyone? No? Thought not.

So after four hours work I’m left with some Brownies that I’m pretty sure people won’t like and a very dirty oven

And I burnt my tongue on my dinner. >:-(

I have one night left to make cakes. Any suggestion for fool proof (and I do mean FOOL proof) cakes? If you don’t, I am seriously considering cheating! Tescos’ fairy cakes, home-made icing… It’s starting to sound like a plan to me!

My only consolation after this frustrating night is that I made a fresh batch of marshmallows last week and they turned out perfectly! Wee sugary clouds of heaven. Will bag them up and offer them to the tea stall.


460g granulated sugar
1 tblspn liquid glucose
9 sheets of gelatin
3 medium egg whites
1 tblspn vanilla extract
Icing sugar
Corn flour

  • Soak the gelatin in 140 ml of cold water.
  • In a heavy based pan bring 200 ml water, the sugar and glucose to the boil. Keep the mixture boiling until it reaches 127oC (no idea why it has to be this specific).
  • Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff.
  • Once the sugar mixture has reached 127oC carefully add the gelatin and stir. Take the mixture off the heat.
  • Add a little of the mixture to the egg whites and beat briefly. Continue to add the mixture bit by bit, beating after every addition, until the entire sugar mixture is combined with the egg whites.
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat for 10 mins (thanking the heavens for the invention of electric whisks as you do so).
  • Leave mixture to stand for 5 mins then beat again until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape on the whisk.
  • Lightly oil a baking tray and dust with icing sugar and corn flour.
  • Pour mixture into tray and leave for two hours.
  • Dust a work surface generously with icing sugar and corn flour.
  • Use a spatula to remove the marshmallow slab from the baking tray. Cut into squares and roll in the icing sugar/corn flour mixture.
  • Leave for an hour.
  • Store in a tightly sealed container.

The first time I made these was to serve with strawberries and a chocolate fondue for a Christmas dessert. My nieces went crazy over them and so did everyone else.


14 thoughts on “Marshmallows and Mayhem

  1. Here, is my mum’s fruit loaf, it has never failed me yet. You may even enjoy it yourself, as it is more spicy than sweet and lovely and moist! You could served it sliced or as a whole loaf.

    Pop all these ingredients into a large pot.

    1/4 block of butter
    1 cup water
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup sultanas
    1 tsp ground mixed spice
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp baking soda

    Bring to the boiland set aside to cool.

    Once cool, add 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup of self raising and
    1 medium egg.

    mix together and pour into a loaf tin

    Bake in a preheated oven at 150 c centre of oven, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, insert a skewer or something else that is long and pointy (no rude comments please), is it comes out clean, it is ready.

    It is lovely warm, spread with butter (I think that is a Scottish thing to do!)

  2. Thanks, Holler!
    When you say “cup” do you mean American cup or just a rough cup-full?
    And is this really a flour free recipe?
    I know nothing about baking!

  3. Well Wendy, as much as I cook and love it, I am no baker either. If I need a sweet hit, I usually head for a chocolate bar. So I am afraid I have no full proof baked goodie for you. My only suggestion would be, OK, I am going to say this, boxed cake? The type where you only have to add say, water and eggs?? Cupcakes are always a big hit at bake sales as they are so easy to eat. There is a girl at our farmers market on Saturdays who bakes the most wonderful breads and she makes a “Goat cheese lemon pillow” that is awesome. A nice pastry that fits into your hand that is stuffed with goat cheese and a lemon curd. Hey, you just made the lemon curd. Can you try some type of pound cake using that???
    OK, I am out of ideas! Good Luck! Let us know what you come up with!

  4. I’m at the desperate stage where I would be willing to try “boxed cake” except that I have never heard of it and suspect it does not exist in Britain. Could be wrong.
    Goat Cheese and Lemon Pillow sounds like my idea of heaven.
    Thank you so much!

  5. Hi Wendy, it is basically the size of a tea cup! that’s what my mum would measure with or a short glass for spirits!I don’t measure it out any more carefully than that! It always works and I probably use different cups! Don’t use a mug!

  6. Oh, mashmallow, something I haven’t tried yet… Yours loook wonderfully white and fluffy!

    As for cake, the real fool proof one must be banana cake! And it tastes good, too. You may wanna give it a try! 😀

  7. Wendy – it is probably too late but uncooked sweet things are good – my favourite is what I called grubs as a child – tin of condensed milk – about 400g – 2-3 tbsp cocoa, 2/3 – 1 pkt rich tea biscuits bashed to crumbs and about 1/2 cup coconut – mix it all together and roll into small balls and roll them in coconut – tastes great and is so easy – except when a cat lies on a plate of them (oh, yes it happened once)

    hope it went ok and you got some sun – people always feel happier about food in the sun

  8. Bloody Nigella.

    Nothing I have ever made of hers works. Believe me, I’ve tried…not much of a baker myself either.

    Joahnna’s un-cooked cooking sounds perfect.

  9. Did the agar agar really taste fishy? Drat. I attempted marshmallows very recently to use up gelatin as I turn my kitchen more vegetarian. Four different recipes, four different degrees of failure (humidity, I think), and now I am out of gelatin for good. How beautifully pillow-puff soft yours are. They have that great hand-crafted look which always means created with care.

  10. Susan – The agar agar tasted pretty fishy (or at least seafoody) indeed. The aftertaste in particular was vile! There is vege-gel available in the shops. Perhaps that would work?

    Elise – Thank you but I’m not sure about that! Baking is not my forte! Maybe because I’m not that interested in eating cakes… More likely because I’m not terribly precise. 🙂

  11. Pingback: Courgette and Pumpkin Seed Bread (not cake) « A Wee Bit of Cooking

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