Sunday, 4 October 2009

cake bakery ... and other things

Cake baking should be enacted on calm Sunday afternoons listening to Radio 4, with plenty of care taken over weighing, mixing and pouring. Rushing back from supper and throwing ingredients into a bowl, then into a tin in the oven seems at odds with the quiet ritual ... but this is what we've done.

The Brave and I have spent an entirely relaxing and unexpected evening in Buchans, drinking wine, eating supper and discussing the pros and cons of the military. Needless to say we didn't agree on all counts, apart from crème brûlée being a superior dessert and my fillet steak being not quite buttery enough ... but an evening snatched together five weeks before his designated return can only be a pleasure.

And so to the cake ... the first episode of Cake Club, my new office style looms tomorrow, and as founding member I have gladly, if hurriedly, made Nigella Lawson's honey cake this evening. It's not your straightforward mix-in-a-bowl-and-bake cake, but the extra faff is worth it I think.

Honey cake
500g plain flour
200g light soft brown sugar
250g butter
500g (or one tin) golden syrup
2 eggs
300ml milk
3 tsp baking powder
3tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, gas mark 5. Grease and line a 25cm round spring form tin.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and spice in a big big bowl.

Melt the butter and syrup together in a saucepan on a low heat, remove from the hob, stir in the milk, and leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.

Once cooled a bit, stir the butter and syrup into the flour mix, then add the eggs at the end. Stir this all the time you're adding, at the end it should be smooth ... if not then give it a good whisk.

Pour the mixture into the tin, then bake for 75 - 90 minutes - test it with a skewer. If you poke it in and it comes out without any mixture on then your cake is done. This cake will rise when it's cooking, but drop a bit afterwards so don't worry. You want it a bit sticky in the middle so it's fine if your skewer is not absolutely clean as a whistle.

My 22cm cake tin is of course too small. I end up filling it with and inch and a half to spare round the top, then putting the rest of the mix into cake cases, and baking these in the oven for the first 25 minutes - a lovely cook's perk which we're just about to enjoy.

When the cake is done, take it out and let it cool in the tin completely before you take it out and serve.

Easy-ish. Looking at the ingredients, it's a shamefully rich cake, but that rich syrupy sweetness will hopefully make a lot of people happy on a Monday afternoon. Cross your fingers for me.

Friday, 2 October 2009

long time no see

that girl has been busy. In the months since I last wrote I have snuck away to a little gîte, got a new job, gained a new appreciation of Windsor, found out what absence does to the heart and most recently travelled from gay Battersea to gay Paris powered by two wheels and Mars bars.

She has moved out, and in her place Coz brings with her curry, kitchen items and superior audio visual equipment.

I have of course been cooking and eating all the while, far too much to mention in fact. Highlights have got to include a full on curry from a new book, the big spag bol which gave us fuel for our ride and pâté made from the pigs in the garden at the back of one of our hotels en route. ≤ten continues to flourish, with an ever wider circle of interesting people and some very special cakes, books and lovely flowers finding their way into my lucky hands as recompense for what is really no trouble.

I resolve, again, to cook more, to take more photos, and above all to write more about it. In honour of my new flatmate I have established a cake club at work, so expect posts about baking, and plenty of new recipes. Judging by the horror of a brack I sent to the Brave a couple of weeks ago my efforts may not be up to much.

I'll be back soon ... I promise.