Bakeways is rightways   Leave a comment

Or “let them eat cake”, as Marie Antoinette was wrong not to say.

This post is being written so close to on time it’s scary. OK, I’ve got a backlog of titles, but you can’t rush art. Right?

First job on Sunday (the 11th) was bake a cake for my uncle’s birthday get-together. I made a variant (using brandy instead of rum and apricot jam instead of marmalade) of the Orange Marzipan Cake from Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell. I’m not posting it here, partly because sharing is the greatest crime currently faced by humanity and must be stamped out. Anyone who shares must be killed! Ye gods, IP law is painfully stupid.

More importantly, my copy has a bug in it, and one shouldn’t distribute buggy code. Or buggy cakes. Unless you’re a celebrity from a list towards the arse-end of the alphabet, desperately trying to revive your long-dead career by going on an all-expenses-paid holiday to Oz.

The cake is a good recipe otherwise, though, and unusual in that it has almond shortbread on the bottom, then a layer of marzipan, the preserve, the actual cake mix (much lighter and less fruity than normal fruit-cakes) and finally topping it off with pine-nuts and almonds. You can see a few pics of somebody else’s here.

The problem is that the ingredients include 90ml of booze, but the method doesn’t say what one should do with it. Add it in to the mixture? Soak the fruit in it? Pour it on after baking? Drink it?

It seemed that option 3 would make the cake too gooey on top, I don’t like to drink brandy, and I didn’t realise the error until it was too late to soak fruit, so I went for the first choice and mixed in the booze after the eggs. I think this is the same choice I made last time, too.

(I used the recipe in the small version of the book; the large “coffee-table” version linked above might not have the mistake in it; a paragraph could have been cut out in the shrinking, or similar.)

Unfortunately, I think it was the wrong choice. The mixture was quite sloppy, and during cooking all the fruit sank to the bottom of the cake. It wasn’t as light as you might hope, or as the above pictures make it look. It also took considerably longer to cook than the recipe claimed, so the outside and base were very well done, and perhaps a little burnt (although that may be because I didn’t – as the recipe did not direct me to – line the cake-tin; a few layers of greaseproof paper would probably have prevented it).

Next time, memory permitting, I shall have to try soaking the fruit instead.

Despite this, the cake did turn out tasty (with a nice brandy flavour to the actual cake bit), and even quite attractive. Here’s a picture, which you can click for Big-O-Vision™:
Shortbread marzipan fruit-cake
It shows off its malfunctions quite well, I think, and also the layers that make the cake interesting.

In the evening was the get-together itself, and my family and I went out to a (fairly) local pub, the Red Lion, for dinner. My family get on like a house on fire* so these events are often stressful. Fortunately, the Red Lion is famed for massive portions, so everybody’s mouth was too busy to bicker.

One may have thought that months of careful dieting would have eroded my appetite, but that fear proved unfounded; I did myself proud, eating a 32-ounce mixed grill (which came with chips, peas, mushrooms, onion rings and salad) and a big portion of toffee lumpy-bumpy pudding. I even had a pint to go with it**. The pub doesn’t have any pretensions of haute cuisine (the menu is mostly straightforward steaks, chops, grills and suchlike), but it does cook everything nicely, so a good meal was had by all.

Once we’d finished eating and drinking everything the pub had, everyone came back to mine for a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake. The poor espresso machine had a busy time, but the cake went down well (nobody left without two slices in their bellies or hands) so clearly its problems weren’t.

 
* There is much screaming and, if Mum has anything to do with it, everything winds up smelling of smoke.

** And also, to close the door behind the bolting horse, a glass of diet Coke.

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