Sunday, 18 July 2010

Cake Attempt

So, today I had a first crack at making the cake for my colleague's son. I'm travelling to Scotland on Thursday and have to have the cake ready before then, so I thought I'd use the weekend to have a go before I made the real thing.
As I mentioned in the previous blog, I am trying to use a recipe used by another blogger, the Whisk Kid.

That cake mixture was for the full blown six layer cake and a mountain of icing, so I cut it down for the trial. Today I went for two layers of cake and enough icing to cover.


The first thing I had to do was to work out the quantities I'd need for a reduced size cake.

This worked out as:
- 2/3 stick of butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain white flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- Food colouring (I used red and green for the tester)

First of all, I heated the oven to 180 C.

In one bowl, I sifted in the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a second bowl I creamed the sugar and butter together, and then added in the egg whites a little at a time. Then I mixed in the vanilla extract once this had all combined.

Then I added the flour and milk, stirring the whole time until the cake batter is formed.

Splitting this into two further, smaller bowls, I added the food colouring for the two different layers of cake. One red, and one green. I used a fair amount of colouring to give the cakes a vibrant look. I then poured the batters into two separate 10" cake tins.

Incidentally, I always use cake tins with a removable bottom - makes it so much easier to remove the cakes from the tins when they have been baked. Still always remember to lightly grease the tins though!

I then put these in the oven to bake for 15 minutes (they ended up needing about 20-25).


With the cakes in the oven, I could turn my attention to the icing.

For this you will need:
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 sticks butter (FAT!)
- 1 tsp lemon extract

Thankfully, this is a very simple and easy icing to make, and is made in the following way...

I heated the egg whites in a small saucepan and whisked in the sugar for a few minutes until it had combined and increased in volume somewhat.I then poured this mixture into a large bowl and, using an electric beater, began to combine the butter with the egg mixture bit by bit.

Once all the butter had been added I cranked up the speed on the beaters to create a light and fluffy icing mixture before adding the lemon extract and beating for a further 30 seconds. Job done.


I set the icing to the side while I removed the cakes from the oven. I set these on a rack to cool before turning out and leaving for a further half an hour.

After this time, I stood the green cake on a plate and began to ice it up. Then I sat the red cake on top and began to ice it...

Then problems began.

For some reason, the cakes started to leak a load of oily liquid, maybe excess butter, I'm not really sure. Anyway, it turned into a big, sludgy, inedible mess.

Which leaves me with some problems... I have a cake to make for this Thursday with a recipe that needs some tweaking - and I'm not sure what.


My options are therefore thus:

- Try again, taking the moisture level down (less milk or colouring maybe?) and see how that goes.

- Go for a straight forward sponge cake recipe and layer that instead (however, the above cake recipe is a white cake and therefore shows up the colours better once baked).

- Try a multicoloured marble cake with a different icing.

Anyway, I'm going to run this all by my colleague tomorrow and see what she thinks. Any more ideas? Drop me a comment!


Coming up:

- My next attempt (hopefully final!) at the birthday cake.

- Foodies Festival, 28th August!

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Opener

So, I've been registered to use this blog for a couple of days now, but I wanted to wait until I had a really good, foodbased, reason to actually open it officially.

And while I haven't waited for a really good reason, I have at least a decent story to go with a recipe that I want to post.


So here goes - first a little background.

Being from Scotland and living in England, I am very often misunderstood in restaurants when placing an order. This is especially true when it comes to ordering drinks.
The following is a list of what I have ordered and what I have subsequently been presented with by the waiter:

Lime & soda - White wine spritzer (wine & soda)
Lime & soda - Soda with a wedge of lime
Vanilla milkshake - Banana milkshake (on at least four occasions)
Lemonade - Minute Maid Orange Juice

All true, and honestly, I don't have a speech impediment other than my Glaswegian accent!

The most recent problem with ordering drinks I have had however, has been when I have asked for a Virgin Mary. Twice in the last month I have been in pubs where the bartender did not know what this popular and common mocktail was.
In the vain hope that bartenders of the world will follow this blog, the following is my recipe for (and a little history behind) the Virgin Mary mocktail.


First of all, for the version I made this evening - very cut down due to lack of ingredients - you will need a carton of tomato juice, a bottle of tabasco sauce, a bottle of worcestershire sauce (I used Lea & Perrins) and cracked black pepper.

From here, it's all very simple. I had a rather large glass, so I used a couple of teaspoons of tabasco (I like it hot - it's a refreshing drink, but I think more so when it feels like you've stripped off a couple of layers of throat), three or four of the worcestershire sauce, and finally a generous helping of ground black pepper on top of that.

Then, add the tomato juice. Pouring on top of the spice mixture helps to mix it through, but a good stir is advisable.

Very simple - something every good bar person should know.


Anyway, that's my cut down version. Often though, the drink also contains a little lemon juice, a dash of celery salt (normal salt will also do - I didn't add any to mine because the tomato juice was pre-salted), and a celery stick to garnish and stir with.

According to Wikipedia (link!), the drink is also known as a Bloody Shame or a Holy Mary.


Virgin Mary rant over, there will be some more substantial posts in the near future:

- I am making a birthday cake for a colleague's son which I shall document here (based on a recipe found here).

- My wife and I will be attending the Foodies Festival in South Parks in Oxford over the weekend starting 28th August, full write up to follow!