WEEK ONE – Cakes
Well folks it’s that time of year again, and I am a bad, bad, blogger. It began just after the end of last years’ Great British Bake Off when I realised that I would have to prep for Christmas early, as I was due to have my arthritic thumb operated on and it was going to be at least 3 months before it was good to use. 3 months later saw it not much improved, still painful, and now even more stiff and unwieldy. Then the ‘accident’ happened (which for me is nothing unusual as I am the most accident prone person in the world ever – if I say “ow” nobody in the family even looks up, as it happens often, nay a lot). I fell ‘up’ a small flight of steps in my kitchen and ended up in the local A&E having my fractured wrist seen to! But then I got complacent and lazy with not doing the blog and so my autumn resolution is more blogging, more recipes and most definitely starting the farm-life diary.
BAKE ONE – WET APPLE CAKE
500g apples – after peeling and coring
splash of lemon juice
275g plain flour
325g caster sugar
1tsp bicarb of soda
250ml veg oil
1 eating apple
1-2 tbs demererra sugar
- Put oven on 180° fan. Well butter then liberally flour a 25cm cake tin (turn over and knock out the excess flour).
- Peel and core the apples (I like to use a combination of cooking and eating apples) and place in a bowl full of water with a splash of lemon juice which helps reduce brownness in the apples. chop them up into small pieces, placing back into the lemon water.
- Put all dry ingredients into a bowl and give a little whisk to combine.
- Break eggs into a large jug/bowl and give them a good whisk to foamy texture, add the oil and whisk again.
- Take the apples from the water and place into a clean tea towel to dry slightly. Take the reserved apple and peel, core and cut into thin slices, place in the lemon water.
- Pour the eggy mixture into the flour and beat together with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula. This mix will go quite firm – almost like greasy play dough! Now tip in the apples and stir, and stir, and stir……. until the mixture slackens, and the apples are well combined and coated.
- Pour into the cake tin, smooth down. Decorate the top with the apple slices and sprinkle the demererra sugar over the surface of the cake. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until firm to the touch.
- Remove from the oven, cool in tin for 10 minutes then carefully loosen the cake in the tin with a thin palette knife before removing from the tin. This cake can be enjoyed warm or cold.
TOP TIP TIME – You can use overripe or slightly bruised fruit for this cake, and I like to mix it up with the apple pieces, small chuck, biggish pieces, slices and teeny, tiny ones to give varying texture to the apples within the cake. I would not change the sugar on the top of the cake as the demererra sugar gives a lovely crispy crust, making this halfway between a pudding and a cake, serve warm with cream or custard!
This one is a family favourite, and a must at this time of year with all the trees groaning with fruit ready to drop. It’s very tasty but not the prettiest looking, hence we calls it ‘Ugly Cake’.
BAKE TWO – AN ILLUSION CAKE
*please not that without pairs of hemisphere pans in 3 sizes, you will not be able to make this cake! I would also advise novice bakers to give this one a miss too.
All the same for the 3 cakes (in different weights), with added additions such as food colouring (these will appear in the recipe body). Break eggs into a pre-weighed jug and then weigh other ingredients the same.
Cake 1 – 3 eggs plus same weight in butter, sugar, self raising flour (plus 75g extra) 1 tsp baking powder, food colouring, vanilla essence.
Cake 2 – 4 egg mixture plus 40g extra flour
Cake 3 – 4 egg mixture
3oog dark chocolate
175g soft butter
4 cups sieved icing sugar
- Put oven on 175°. Well butter and flour your 6 cake tins.
- Weigh your eggs then weigh the remainder of the ingredients to match (e.g if your eggs weigh 200g then you will require 200g sugar etc plus 75g extra flour to make this cake firm).
- Make your cake by the creaming method or all in one, whichever you prefer, then colour it yellow and add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Pour into the smallest cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes until the cake is just cooked and firm to the touch.
- Remove from the oven, take out of the tins and allow to cool fully.
- Make the second cake batter and colour this one orange and flavour with vanilla. Pour this batter evenly into the 2 medium hemispheres (so they are approx ½ full) then press the small domes into the middle, taking care to get them as close to central as you can, ensuring that the batter comes up to 1″ from the top of the cakes. You can do this with a piping bag to ensure even distribution of the batter around the sides.
- Bake for approx 25 minutes until the 2nd cake mix is baked. Remove from the tins and again allow to cool fully.
- Repeat this process with the 3rd cake mix and the cooked cake halves in the largest pans. I split my batter into 2 and coloured one brown and the other red, again floured with vanilla. Both mixes were placed into piping bags and the brown was piped around first then the red layered over the top (making the mix on the bottom of the pan slightly thicker). Bake again for around 25 minutes until fully cooked.
- Once the 2 large cake halves are fully cooled, carefully trim the flat side smooth to get rid of the ‘dry’ cake thats been baked 2 or 3 times, and gives it a flat base.
- Make your buttercream and flavour it (I used lemon) and divide into 3. Colour one yellow, one pale blue and one green. Apply a liberal spreading of the yellow to one cake and neatly ‘glue’ the 2 together.
- Place onto a dish or bowl to support, inside a larger ‘drainage’ dish. Melt the chocolate either in a bain Marie or microwave and pour this over the sphere, using a palette knife spread all over the ball, it does not need to be smooth. Keep back a small amount to remelt later. Allow to fully dry then rotate the cake slightly and fill in the space without chocolate (from standing on the support dish). Allow to set fully.
- My next step was to find a ‘flat’ globe picture on the internet and print it off. With this as a guide I used a fondant icing tool like a pencil to sketch this onto the cake. I filled in the ocean parts and then the green in the landmass shapes. Then I sprinkled white glitter onto the top to represent the North Pole. Hey presto a globe!
TIP TIME – have some fairy cake or muffin cups handy so that if you do have too much cake mix left over you can bake some little cakes too.
So why specifically the colours I used/chose? They represent the actual layers of the earth. Yellow for the inner core, orange as the outer core then the red for the mantle, the brown represents the deep crust and the crispy chocolate on the outside was the ‘crust’. I did add one other final flourish in the very centre of the cake I scooped out a small hollow (before glueing them together and mixed edible metallic pieces into the buttercream as the ‘supposed’ molten metal core. So, phew, an epic journey into cake that one (would not have had time to make it in the GBBO tent), but it was amazing to look at (the person it was for did not want to cut it, so I had to do it for them!) and not only that, but very tasty too.
Now, it could be said that I have cheated a little with this bake as it is an historic one, baked a wee while ago, however, that is for 2 reason one being that it has been a very busy week with my community players dramatic performance of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and also because I baked them a themed cake for the after-show party which could almost be an illusion cake in itself. It is exactly how it looks, a sofa suck at the top of a flight of stairs, a pivotal component of the play.
So, that it for cake week, I should just about manage to join in with the linky to Mummy Mishaps. If you too are a baker, then please do join in with the fun, rules and regs and the link can be found at our hostess’ blog site. Thanks for reading and I do hope you try the recipes too. All feedback welcome.