A book worm and foodie, studying English Literature at the University of Glasgow, writing about food, books and travel while aspiring to be a writer.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Cake Day!

For the first time in ages today I decided to bake something.
I used to bake almost twice a week when I lived back at home, we were never without a cake and it was something I used to do with friends for fun (I swear, I'm not 65). I never really appreciated how great my mum's fully stocked baking cupboard was until I moved away. Baking is EXPENSIVE.

However, at the beginning of the university year I baked a lemon and poppyseed cake, so I had most of the ingredients anyway and I today felt like the day; i.e. I couldn't be bothered doing anything, but I knew if I sat around I would feel like a lemon. So instead, the lemon inside me was made into cake.

So after getting up some time in the very late morning I inhaled the spring air and walked over to mine to collect my scales and ingredients. During which, or course, the 'spring air' turned into torrential downpour. After optimistically leaving my umbrella behind my parka was turned from light kaki to decidedly hunter green with dampness.
It doesn't matter though; in Glasgow everyone has a mutual appreciation for the 'drowned-rat' look, infact, it's almost a fashion statement. And if you're dry you just look downright weird. I did think I would have shaken my pre-christmas cold by March though. Not so.

My cake recipe comes from the holy bible itself.
That is to say, the Great British Bake-off 'Everyday' book. The book consists of classic recipes for bread, muffins, cakes etc to more exotic challenging exotic stuff. For anyone who watched the last series of GBBO as religiously as I did, it also has baker's recipes from the show as well as the showstopper challenges from Mary and Paul. LOVE.

Ingredients-

  • 225g unsalted, softened butter
  • finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs, room temp
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2tbsp poppy-seeds
  • icing sugar, for dusting
You will also need a cake tin. The book says to use: 1 x 20.5 spring clip tin. A spring clip means the bottom comes out, it will have a clip at the side. You need to grease it with butter or marge and line the bottom with some baking parchment, which just means the bottom is covered so the cake doesn't stick. 

Because I've made this before I had all the staples and only had to buy a lemon and some almonds. Don't be afraid to splash out the first time if you love baking/eating cake. 

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/350 fahrenheit/gas mark 4. Put the butter and lemon in a large bowl and beat until it's creamy. If you're lucky enough to have an electric mixer it will only take a minute. If, like me, you're not, then work those arms baby. 
  2. Then beat in the sugar a tbsp full at a time and once it's all been added, scrape down the bowl and beat again until the mixture looks pale in colour and lighter. This might take a while if you're doing it manually, but hey, it's a work out and you're going to be eating cake later. Get on with it. 
  3. Beat the eggs in a small, separate bowl, until they are combined. Add them slowly to the butter mixture, again a spoonful at a time will do. Scrape down the sides after a few spoons so it's combining well. To stop the mixture from curdling add a couple of spoons of almonds when you're nearly out of egg. (TIP: mine did end up looking a little split, but when you add the flour later it turns out fine don't worry, just add the eggs slowly.)
  4. Scrape down the bowl again and then sift in the almonds and the flour, carefully and slowly
    folding them in as you go. Folding is basically just slowly turning the mixture over itself with the spoon so that everything is incorporated without over-mixing. 
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Put it in the oven and bake for 45-50 mins, or until it is golden brown and the top springs back when you gently press it in the centre. 
  6. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool, running a round-tip knife slowly around the edge to loosen it. Then unclip it and leave to cool until cold, when you can take it out the tin and off the base and dust with icing sugar. Done! 

If you can, keep it in an airtight container, if not, eat it fast. Also, remember to take the paper off of the bottom before you eat it, not so tasty.

If you want to get creative with your icing sugar like I have, just cut a stencil out of paper and place it on the cake before you dust.
Well Fed & Well Read, first bake!

Happy Saturday everyone!

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