Category Archives: Cakes

What’s for Tea? Lemon Madeira Cake

Madeira Cake Pam Corbin Cakes

I make a cake maybe once a month or so – I try not to eat all the cake myself but share it with people. We had a very nice coffee and walnut cake last time which took me forever to make as I cracked a whole bag of walnuts to do it, as the prepacked ones in the shops always look and smell rancid to me and today for tea we had a lemony Madeira cake from Pam Corbin’s Cake book.

I used a narrow based high sided Matfer tin, the one I use mostly for making high rye tinned breads  which holds a litre of water, so I hoped that is what Pam Corbin meant by a litre tin. Most mysterious.

This produces a nice slim cake, with the possibility of lots of small slices.

I adapted the recipe to use a proportion of Light at Heart stevia sweetened sugar and, oh horror of horrors, some Stork margarine, curious to see if I could taste either if I only used a bit of each. Well I can’t taste either of them in these proportions.  So I can hear you thinking, what next? Is she going to go all processed food on us? Is she going to start making cakes with coconut oil and icecream from cauliflower? Who knows? I might, but I think it is fairly unlikely.

I don’t like Stork and I don’t like margarine but I know lots of people who prefer the taste of both to butter. Cake is cake and infinitely adaptable.

So for my version of this cake, perfect for a lunch box or just for carving small slices off at random and as necessary

 

Lemon Madeira cake adapted from Pam Corbin’s recipe in Cakes

  • 200g of self-raising flour
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 50g Stork margarine
  • One large lemon finely zested
  • 1/2 tsp of Sicilian Limone essence from Bakery Bits
  • 4 large eggs
  • 100 g of organic granulated sugar
  • 25 g of Light at Heart
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

For the icing

  • 100 g icing sugar
  • lemon juice as needed and a bit more Sicilian Limone essence
 

And then it is the usual thing of beating softened butter with sugar till light and fluffly, mine always looks wet and fluffy, not sure why and mixing in the zest and limone essence.

At some point I give up and get to the nitty gritty of the affair. I advance towards the hurdles of adding the eggs one at a time with a few teaspoons of flour with each one, Very similar to hurdles at which I was rubbish at school I may add.  I warm the eggs first and wish very hard that they don’t curdle. I am getting better at it slowly, but my heart is always in my mouth and my brow furrowed slightly while I do this.

Usually somewhere just after the first egg has gone in, I remember the tin, in fact I have a minor tin panic attack and rush around pulling tins out and staring at them as if I hope they will speak to me and say ‘Me, me, pick me’ but they never do.  Remember to turn the oven to 180 C (conventional electric not fan) /Gas Mark 4 if I am on a winning streak at this point.

I went for my old Matfer tin, greased it with butter, and popped a symbolic piece of baking parchment in the bottom. Turned the oven to 180 C/Gas 4. Did I mention nothing has ever stuck to this tin so far. The silver lining of my sometimes dark and thunderous cake making attempts is this tin and a couple of others. If you have a tin that won’t let go of your cakes, let go of the tin, you won’t regret it, I promise.  Sorry where were we?

Oh yes fold in the rest of the flour. Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice,  Wince a bit more, waiting for the cake mixture to scream and separate. Feel slightly disappointed when it doesn’t curdle for once.

Plop the mixture in the tin, set the oven time for 40 minutes, long narrow tin bakes quicker than a more traditional low slung loaf tin. Leave to bake, test with wooden stickie thing. Take out. Leave to cool in tin for ten minutes. Tip out onto cooling rack…

Next day.. mix up 100 g of icing sugar with a little lemon juice and plop it on the top. Go out in the garden and in a homage to the seriously good cake makers out there, pick some primroses, violets and geranium flowers and stick them on the top. Don’t they look fancy?

To those of you who have read this blog for a while a big apology that I still have mild panic attacks about making cakes, I think it is something to do with knowing that the ingredients are much more costly than for making bread and therefore there is more pressure on me to get it right, also there is in my eyes at least more that can go wrong. I don’t trust that the process will replicate itself each time I do it and while a slightly misshapen loaf is charming and rustic, a sunken cake that has left a big chunk of itself in the tin is just sad.

Find a pretty spot in the garden to take a photo and test at teatime.  Well, it’s cake innit?  Mine all mine, and even with those suspicious ingredients, still far nicer than most cake you can buy in the regular shops. And you can’t buy fresh flowers in a packet…

PS As there is a little bit of interest in the Matfer tin I used, judging by the comments, here it is:

 They aren’t cheap, but it has lasted and looks almost as good as when I bought it. It measures 10” x 3.5” (250 mm x 85 mm) around the top, narrowing by half an inch at the base. It is 3.25 “ deep and is deceptive in that it holds around 750-800g dough / a litre of water.  It has a rolled edge and sharp clean corners. I also have the smaller sized one of these which holds approximately 400g dough.

Matfer Loaf Tin

Hedgerow Colours and other Bits and Pieces

Rosehip CordialMy gesture towards autumnal hunter gathering (ha!) has been limited this year to these two little projects.  Rosehip and (assorted friends) cordial and the hawthorn ketchup recipe which comes from Pam Corbin’s book Preserves but can be found fortuitously (and probably not very surprisingly) in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Guardian Weekend column this week along with other fashionable hedgeforagy ideas. More about haws here in Alys Fowler’s column too.

out of focus washed haws (hawthorn berries)

I managed to make one little jar from 500 g of hawthorn berries. Not sure if it was worth the effort somehow!

I barely picked any blackberries and there were very few sloes, apart from a few I found in the freezer, the damsons were almost non existent and the squirrel has stolen and buried all the nuts – so it goes. And I suspect that this is the same for many people, hence the interest this year in the hawthorn berries and rosehips which are plentiful.

I am working my way through the apples from the garden slowly. I spend a lot of time not doing very much and what I do, I do quite slowly. Here is a squishy apple cake, which I made yesterday from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated by Andrew Janjigian. It is made with oil not butter and has a clever construction whereby you mix egg yolks into part of the batter for the bottom and extra flour into the top part thus creating a layered effect in the cake. I am not sure I did it justice as I was working from cups, which as we know is not my strong point. Edit : My apples are for some reason all floating to the top in any cake with a soft batter. I think it is me as it has happened now in a couple of cakes ! I have added a link to the recipe, which I didn’t have earlier and I see there is a video too… if I had known…. ah well there is always next time !

I had better add a slice shot too

I ‘tore’ up the original bright and breezy tra la version of this post as I need to find a new voice. I am not a good housewife, I am not a good gardener, I am just a fallible and imperfect human being who for some reason strayed into the blog world and stayed for company. I like your company. Truth.

Sometimes I think I am channeling the Guardian.   Alys Fowler confirms that it is perfectly acceptable to rehome supermarket basil in this week’s magazine too. I can report that my two are still rampaging away and people come and lop stems off and cart them off. It really is much the easiest way to keep them going with minimum fuss and outlay. I am not convinced by the micro herb thing. Seeds, though not expensive when you grow full size plants from them, do become pricey for relatively small return when you eat the results so small. They don’t always come out nicely either, sometimes very small and a bit stringy and sad, if you don’t have ideal growing conditions indoors.

Outdoors the flower sprouts, which now dominate the raised bed with their dark and purply presence are…. yes they are…. growing flower sprouts – this is quite exciting for me as I have never grown sprouts in any shape or form. They are frilly and they lie in the space between stem and leaf. Ooh! The broccoli rab threw up two leaves, a yellow flower and died in the shadow of the giant flower sprouts. The winter creeping thyme drowned mysteriously having started off quite well. The half a dozen bulb fennel babies are living in their fortress where I shall protect them from the marauding pigeons if I have to sit on the veg bed with a knife between my teeth.

Brian has taken a beautiful photo of the Trail of Tears beans drying on a north facing windowsill.

And what else did I think might amuse you as you dance through the internet? I attempted to clear one tiny corner of the garden yesterday, with much moaning and wingeing and pulled out the cold frame with Brian’s help to give it a rudimentary tidy up before the winter and managed to disturb Madame Frog. She made me scream of course but then I steadied my nerve and picked her up to move her to an undisturbed spot and I swear she is is smiling here. You have heard of Puss in Boots? This is Frog in Glove.

Zeb went to look for the frog but he has some funny ideas.

No frog in here…

NB For Rosehip Cordial.  Pick as many ripe rosehips as you can manage. Put them in the freezer overnight to help soften them.  Cook them gently in water until you can mash them up. They have little hairs inside so you do need to strain them or let them drip through a fine muslin in order to get the juice out, as you would if you were making jelly which is also an option.

A mixed bag of rosehips, hawthorn (haws) berries and blackberries

I added a handful of blackberries and some other bits and pieces to use them up but you don’t need to do that. Then once you have your strained juice, add 325 grams of sugar or so to each 500 ml of juice, heat till dissolved but do not boil. Then bottle in clean bottles and heat in a water bath if you don’t have a canner. The water bath is basically a deep saucepan with a clean folded tea towel in the bottom full of water in which you stand the bottles up to their necks and then bring the water up to a set temperature for a set time, (varies depending on what you are canning). If in doubt freeze your cordials if you have space and then you won’t have to worry about this.

Home Made Jaffa Cakes – the Marcus Wareing ones

For my friend Lynne – Get well soon!

Simple! Ha! Marcus Wareing’s Home Made Jaffa Cakes recipe from Great British Chefs – recipe can be found here.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it? Make a tray of little tiny spongy things, cut them in half, take out a bit of the middle bit, blob some marmalade in there, dip them in melted chocolate, take a photo, give to one’s true love who has asked for them. Well, let me say this. NO! It is not an easy recipe. No, no, no.

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