Blog marks 17 years

This blog marked its 17th anniversary at the beginning of August.

It’s been through a number of iterations and changed hosts several times, but it’s still musing along after all this time.

I’d actually forgotten the occasion, yes, typical of a man, until I read the Wednesday Chef’s post marking her blog’s sixth birthday. And as she’d had the great idea of serving up a cake to celebrate, I decided to follow suit.

I present the Musings from a Stonehead birthday torte.

The torte is loosely based on a dobos torte, in that it has mutiple layers, almonds on the sides and a layer of caramel on top.

After that, though, it’s something of an abomination as far as the original torte is concerned because the creator, József C. Dobos, wanted a long-life cake that didn’t rely on the then common whipped cream fillings found in other tortes.

Mr Dobos opted for fine buttercream. I opted for sherry cream. But in my defence, I didn’t need a long-life cake and I like sherry cream.

Ingredients

Sponge:

Filling:

Caramel:

  • 15g butter
  • 175g caster sugar

Decoration:

  • 125g flaked almonds, toasted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC. Lightly grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with non-stick backing parchment.
  2. Sift the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the sunflower oil, milk, golden syrup and eggs.
  4. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and beat hard until well combined.
  5. Divide the batter equally between the two tins and bake for 35 minutes. Push a steel skewer into the centre of each cake to check that they’re cooked through.
  6. When the cakes are done, remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in their tins. Turn them out on to wire racks, remove the parchment and allow to cool completely.
  7. Cut each cake into multiple layers. If you have a wire cake slicer you should be able to get three layers from each cake, possibly four. If a bread knife is used, you’re more likely to get two, possibly, three layers per cake.
  8. Place the cream, caster sugar and sherry in a bowl. Whisk until stiff peaks begin to form. Don’t over whisk—instead, stop every few seconds to see if the peaks stay erect or slump. As soon as they hold their shape, stop whisking.
  9. Set one layer of the cakes aside to be used as the top. Place it on a wire rack over a large, lightly oiled plate. Decorate the top with a pattern made from flaked almonds.
  10. Use three-quarters of the sherry cream to sandwich the remaining layers of cake together.
  11. To make the caramel, melt the butter in a large, spotlessly clean frying pan over a low heat.
  12. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the melted butter and heat gently until the sugar dissolves and turns golden-brown.
  13. Spoon the molten caramel over the top layer of the cake, while placed on the wire rack. (Caramel will run on to the plate, but the oil makes it easier to remove and it will be popular with children. And some adults!)
  14. Spread the remaining sherry cream over the sides of the cake sandwich. Reserve a little.
  15. Place the top layer, with its caramel coating, on top of the sandwich and use the reserved cream to fill any caps between the top and base layers.
  16. Press toasted almonds into the cream spread over the sides of the cake.
  17. To slice the cake, use a finely serrated bread knife to carefully saw through the caramel, then use a sharp knife to cut the torte. Alternatively, before pouring the caramel, slice the top layer into an equal number of wedges—usually eight or 16. Place the wedges on the rack and pour the caramel over them. When the caramel is set, reassemble the wedges as the top layer of the cake.
  18. Serve with coffee. Or sherry.

15 Responses to “Blog marks 17 years”

  1. A quick history lesson:

    I first started writing something like an electronic journal way back in 1981, when I started using an Apple II. In those days, it was on dial-up BBSes. As time progressed, I started using Usenet and then Compuserve. Finally, the Web came along. With the release of Mosaic and then Navigator, I started a very basic, by modern standards, web journal that was hand-coded and manually updated. A few years later, the evolution of automated publishing tools spawned web blogs that initially concentrated on aggregating links. Since then, journals and blogs have merged into each other while the technology has developed at an incredible pace. Now, I do very little coding and a lot more ranting. :D

  2. Happy Birthday Stonehead, please send my portion to Queens Drive, I have the tin cream and hundreds and thousands the Ochard Brandy. Once again wish you all the best for the next 17 years Walter.

  3. Thanks for your Blog, I love to read about your lifestyle, us urban farmers with a forty foot garden, four hens and home can learn loads from you xxx

  4. Looking forward to the next 17 :-) Happy Blogbirthday!

    Cath

  5. Happy Blogbirthday!

    I started home blogging back in 1993 ish on Compuserve – can still recall my very clunky email address with Compuserve back then! Oh the joy of BBS, Usenet and suchlike …..Netscape Navigator was actually really rather good tbh

    But had been using Janet as part of my work for years before that…the forerunner of the modern internet……wow I was part of history ….

    Blogging is very wonderful…as is the whole internet stuff now to me, as a 50 ish ex research scientist, who used to only use this sort of stuff in the environs of her (top secret ish – sshh) research lab work place

    How times have changed….I really could not have imagined how the world would have turned out from my working experience in the 80′s and early 90′s

    • Things have really rocketed ahead, haven’t they? I still have the paperwork for my original Compuserve account—I stumbled across it in a folder at the bottom of a removal box. Rather irritatingly, I didn’t archive anything I posted on Compuserve although I did archive my emails from early 1994 onwards and the blog from the outset. I move the material to new media every couple of years so I can still access it, although I still have an Apple LC475 just in case I need to pull something off a floppy disk. :D

      I was also fortunate to be at the BBC when all of this really took off and did a lot of experimental work in areas that people now take for granted, particularly streamed audio and video of live and recorded events. Exciting times.

  6. I might have to post about my historic blog roll and the web sites that still exist. I was looking through my archives, decided to check some links and found a fair number of blogs/websites are still active in one way or another.

    For example, I used to be in contact with a Finnish philosopher, T. P. Uschanov. I just tried the link to his 1995 website and discovered he still keeps a holding page there. And he’s linked to the Wayback Machine’s archive of his original site.

    Similarly with the The Atlantis Project, which dates back to 1993. Eric Klien and others put a vast effort into the project, a libertarian proposal for a floating city with a distinctly different ethos, politics and governance. Of course, it did fail but there was a lot of interesting and provocative thinking behind it. The project’s website still has various holding pages and it’s possible to find other material if you know where to look.

    I’ll have to look into this more tonight. My lunch is ready now.

    • I had to hide the site when I published a book three years ago (and then a second one last year) which made me into a minor public figure in Finland. People Googling me were likely to stumble into the site, which would have given just too misleading a picture. Nowadays they’re more likely to find my entry on Finnish Wikipedia or on my publisher’s site, so the risk is somewhat reduced, but I still haven’t got around to preparing a new one. I had a blog (in Finnish), but it died.

      I still have nearly all of my bookmarks in Firefox, which have migrated from browser to browser since I started with Mosaic in 1994. I have replaced the URLs of apparently defunct sites with the most recent version found in the Wayback Machine, but somewhat touchingly, I have also kept the URLs of defunct sites not found there, just in case some Wayback-Machine-to-the-second-power somehow surfaces someday.

      • It’s great to hear from you after all this time. I, too, have all my original bookmarks archived. I like the idea of updating defunct links by linking to the the most recent versions in the Wayback Machine.

  7. I made a mistake. And have been labouring under a misapprehension for some years. As I was closing the archive folders, I found two files that revealed the blog actually dates back further than I remembered! For some reason, I’d knocked nearly 10 months off its age. I first started the Bowerbird Cafe, as it was originally known, in October 1993, creating it on a Mac LC.

    The blog wasn’t 17 years old at the beginning of August, it’s 18 years old in October! I’ll have to make another cake. :D

    And now my lunch is cold. :(

  8. Congratulations! and keep up the blogging. I’ve had a lot of satisfaction and made new friends through my own. Why didn’t I start one earlier? The cake is mouth-watering. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. 18 in October – that’s worth raising a glass to. When you started writing, I was a slightly nervous first-time expectant mum. The computers we had at work then (multi national company) were the old green-screen terminals, with very limited applications, and the fax machine was viewed with some suspicion by the ‘old hands’. Changed times, indeed.

  10. How time passes Stoney, when you’re having fun. I too enjoy your blog as it keeps us in touch as well as the email and the phone. Yes, the phone; and how it too has changed. But every now and then I write (yes, write) a letter with paper and pen, which is very satisfying.
    Happy blogging into the future mate.

  11. Wow, long faithful blogger here. Worth celebrating. May you continue to be inspired to write.
    Me –I only started my lst blog (I have 3 blogs, and am team writer for 4th blog), just a few months before the 2010 Winter Olympics because we needed to capture the experience of living in an Olympic city (Vancouver) and impact on use of alternative transportation.

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