Recently I have decided I need to do something about my interest in cooking and in particular the food it produces. With this in mind I decided to start experimenting, cooking things that I wouldn’t normally have a go at. I cook now, but you know how it is you get into a rut. If it’s Wednesday it must be pork chops. I have also decided to try blogging. I doubt you will be interested in what I have had for my tea, so I have decided to write about my experiments.
I have been experimenting for a while with cakes. I feel that there is a lot of twaddle talked about cake. Yes, I know they can and do go horribly wrong. You need the gluten strands to form in bread but you don’t in a sponge cake. But I have found that if I add a 6-6-6-3 and a drop of milk mix into a food processer and whiz it for about 30-40 seconds I get a light moist sponge. I can find no difference between that method and whisking it together one ingredient at a time with an electric whisk. I have, in the past made cakes with a wooden spoon for the butter, sugar and eggs. Moving onto a metal spoon for the flour, but that was many years ago when I was a mere slip of a girl.
So, that’s 6oz each of soft butter (don’t use margarine), caster sugar (use the unrefined stuff), self raising flour and 3 eggs (use at least free range, better still organic, even better still some eggs from somewhere where you can see the chickens running about. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER from caged birds, but I think they won’t be allowed to do that for much longer.) O.K., I’m off my soapbox now. If I could afford it I would buy everything I could organically. I can’t, but there are two things I insist on; eggs from chickens that have been treated with at least a little compassion and meat from animals that have been given the same care. I know it is expensive but if you buy sensibly and make savings in other areas it can be done. I don’t eat ready meals and I don’t really do takeaways. So whilst I am not spending £20 on a curry and making it myself I can afford to buy two chicken breasts at a fiver a go. Even better buy a whole organic chicken for about a tenner and you have all sorts of options for meals, oh and some really nice stock. Sorry, I popped back on the soapbox. Stepping down now...back to the sponge.
You can then start adding flavours of choice. I made my Mum and Dad a lemon and lime drizzle cake yesterday. They haven’t been well and so I thought they could do with building up. Well not so much building but cheering up. My Dad is 18 stone and 6 foot 4. Mum is a smidge smaller at 5 foot but is well covered. Yes that is five foot. So to my sponge, I added shreds of peel from one lemon and two limes. You could grate them if you haven’t got one of those gadget things that do shreds. I know they are traditionally loaf shaped, but my loaf tin is so old and battered. Any hint of non stickiness has long gone and it feels it needs to hang on to the things that have been cooked in it with the tenacity of a limpet. So I cooked it in an 8 inch round tin that lets go of things when you ask it to. I cooked it in a fan oven at 190 for about 40 minutes. If you are going to try this check it after about half an hour. Stab it with a skewer. If it comes out clean it’s done. If it doesn’t whack it back in for another 5-10 minutes. While it is cooking juice the lemon and limes. Mix this with some icing sugar. I say some. Just keep adding a bit at a time until it doesn’t make your mouth pucker. But don’t add too much. You want it to be sharp against the sweet sponge when you pour it into your stabbed cake. See below for instructions on stabbing.
When you take it out, get stabbing. Stab cake all over while it is still hot and still in its tin. Then pour the juice and icing sugar mix into the cake. Give it a mix before you do this. Then you need to leave it. Leave it in its tin until it is cold. This is why you need a tin that lets go of food. When it is cold slip a knife round the edge and pop it out. Then put it in a cake tin, or even better get a cup of coffee, tea if you like, a plate, a quiet place, a book or magazine and cut yourself a nice big slice.