GBBO16 #1: Cake On Me

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Well, here we are. It’s cake week, and we are once more in the throes of the Great British Bake Off.

I LOVE cake week. Cake is my thing. I’ve always done a good cake, frequently bringing the birthday offering amongst our friends, and even toyed with the idea of professional cupcake making once upon a lifetime. Plus, I can put away an entire tube of Jaffa Cakes faster than you can tell me that “even thought they’re fat free they’re still dangerously high in sugar, and really I shouldn’t be eating quite as many as… yes, well. Never mind.”  So I think we can all agree – I got this.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm about embarking on another year of the GBBOTC blog didn’t take into account the immovable nature of your average three-year-old, and the complete lack of irony that he saw in just having learned the word stubborn and resolutely applying it to his father while insisting that NO. He did NOT want to make Jaffa cakes.

So it looks like the GBBOTC blog is off to a great start, as I immediately eschew the proscribed task at the whim of a small child with a winning smile.

To be honest, last week was a pretty crashingly tough week at work, and I didn’t make bed time on most nights, so an excuse to make cakes together over the Bank Holiday is really rather welcome. And if it has to be a drizzle cake, it has to be a drizzle cake.

So, what would be my signature drizzle cake? To be honest, I like things simple. Good clean flavours, sweet syrup. And for me nothing beats a St Clements cake.

Our mission begins with a supermarket run for oranges, lemons and eggs.  My aim to fully involve Moo starts to look a bit like child labour even at this early stage, but I figure this will hopefully sweeten the pill of not actually being allowed to do very much because, let’s face it, kids a pretty crap at stirring things without getting half of it on the floor. And I have standards to maintain, here, people.

And we’re at Mum’s so I’m loathe to cover her floor in flour. Again.

When we get back I explain the concept of a pound cake to Moo and we weigh up the eggs. The rest of the ingredients are weighed out at the same weight (“do I need more, or less, Moo?” Every day’s a school day! I definitely think it’s fair to say I’m not exactly building a reputation as the fun parent…).

I show Moo how to break an egg and he gives it a surprisingly successful go, although he’s not particularly enamoured of the raw egg going all over his thumbs. He outsources the egg breaking to me.

We cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. I’ve kept this all hand-mixed so that Moo could get stuck in as well, but again he seems to think there’s a greater return on his dollar if he outsources the beating as well, so I just end up with very tired arms. The eggs go in, along with the rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon, and then the flour. Moo stirs. Flour goes all over the floor. Textbook.

I love baking with Moo, but it should be noted that by now he has asked approximately 63 times if he can lick the spoon yet. Or the bowl. Or the egg shells. When Moo says he wants to bake with me, I suspect that what he actually wants is to spend a morning watching, gannet-like, until he can lick raw cake mix off every utensil, preferably before I’ve finished using it. He chuckles with glee as I pass him the spatula.

I divide the batter between the two tins and bung them in the oven. Two cakes to be made – one for family, one for colleagues. Hey, I have to get that first promotion somehow, right?! While they’re baking I make the drizzle.

I zest the other orange and lemon, and juice all four fruits. I put that juice in a pan with three heaped serving-spoons of caster sugar (sorry I can’t be more precise) and boil until it thickens slightly. I take it off the heat to cool.

Once the cakes are cooked and cooled, Moo and I have at them with a skewer to ensure an even drizzle, and we brush the surface liberally with the syrup. All well and good, and the cakes seem beautifully moist, verging on soggy, but with all those holes they’ve ended up looking like a trypophobic’s nightmare.

What we need here is icing. I mix up a water ice using about 250g of icing sugar and some (3tsp maybe? I added it a little at a time) of the remaining syrup. I kept it nice and thick so that it wouldn’t run off the sides, and finished the cake with a strip of orange peel, martini-style (the not drinking so much is going really well, as I’m sure you can tell).

By this stage Moo has retreated into the garden to ‘have a rest’ (bless him, it’s hard work licking all that batter off a spatula) and I’m left to finish up on my own. Roll on the age when he can wash up.

I think this cake was pretty successful, although next time I do it I think I’ll try to work in some polenta, as the grainy, slightly nutty flavour of that works so well with citrus, and a drizzle keeps it beautifully moist.

Yeah, I said it again. Moist moist moist. Heh.

Gutted that I didn’t get to have a go at the jaffa cakes, but you never know, maybe I’ll store up all my missed opportunities and keep them for bonus posts later in the year. Ooh, you lucky things.

Next week is biscuits week, and as I’m rather partial to a Viennese Whirl I suspect I’ll be turning my hand to my first technical challenge of the series. Not before I’ve iced 24 hedgehog biscuits though, I imagine, while Moo sleeps off all the dough he’s snaffled in front of another episode of the rather brilliantly bonkers Messy Goes to Okido.

Till next time people. x

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