Monday, June 7, 2010

Visiting with cake

I'd arranged to go down to Rakaia to visit Bex on the Monday of Queen's Birthday weekend. I decided to bring her a cake, just for the sake of knocking off another recipe. It's hard to find reasons to make cakes, since if I baked one just for myself, it would go dry before I could eat it all.

There is a recipe in the 'fillings and icings' chapter called crumble topping for cakes (p77). I'd been quite keen to give this a go, and went looking for a plain cake to add my crumble topping to. I ended up choosing  butter cake (p45), not because I thought it was necessary to have the topping on a plain cake, but figuring that since I had to make the fairly boring-looking butter cake sometime, I may as well take the opportunity to jazz it up a little.

All went well for a start. The cake is very straightforward: the usual creaming of butter and sugar; adding eggs; sifting in dry ingredients... once I'd mixed in enough milk "to give a soft dropping consistency", I poured the mixture into the tin and made a start on the topping.

Crumble topping is a mixture of brown sugar, plain flour and coconut, with butter cut (or rubbed) in until it looks like breadcrumbs. I had all the dry ingredients in a bowl and went to measure out the butter. Actually, it was canola spread, since a) I'd run out of butter, and b) it's better for you anyway, and the substitution wasn't going to spoil the result of this particular recipe. I got out my scales, carefully set them to zero, added a spoonful of the canola spread, and was slightly confused to see that my fairly modest spoonful weighed 100g.

I didn't think that could be right. I took the butter off again, and found that the scales I had carefully set to zero were now sitting around 50g. So here's the explanation for my recent confusion with quantities of my food processor pastry. The reason why I found myself first with more pastry than I expected to have, and later with less, is that my kitchen scales are BUNG! I'll need to do a bit of experimentation to see just how bung, and in what way, but I think I'll be in the market for a new set.

With the dubious assistance of my now-known-to-be-bung scales, I estimated the 100g needed for my crumble topping. I started rubbing it in, but soon found there was just way too much spread for the dry ingredients. I got a bit flustered at this, first blaming the scales, then deciding I'd misread the quantity for the flour, and adding more, then realising I hadn't, and adding more brown sugar to match.

With one eye on the clock (Bex was expecting me for lunch) I ended up throwing in dry ingredients pretty much willy-nilly until there was finally enough to make 'breadcrumbs' of the mixture. I don't think the proportions ended up quite what they were supposed to be, but it looked ok: just generally crumbly, which is the main thing.  

I scattered about one-third of the crumble mix over the top of the cake and put it in the oven. There was way too much for one cake - probably because of all the extras I'd thrown in, but I also suspect that the original recipe is not designed to make only enough for one cake. It just says "sprinkle over cakes before baking", so I expect you're supposed to make a mix of this stuff and use it as you need it. Anyway, I have half a bowl of it left, so I'll need to think what else I can make with a crumble topping.

The cake baked happily away for half an hour, at which time I pulled it out to check it, and put it back in with a piece of baking paper over the top to stop the crumble from overcooking. I checked again after another five minutes, but decided to put it back in till the 40-minute mark. I had a slight scare when I was putting it back in and the baking paper caught fire, but I put it out no trouble and (carefully) replaced it with another piece.

When the timer went off again, I pulled out the cake, and it seemed cooked. I should have left it to cool for 10 minutes, then turned it out onto a cooling rack and so forth, but I needed to leave, so I wrapped the cake - tin and all - in a teatowel, and headed off to Bex and Richard's.

When I arrived in Rakaia (after a fairly unpleasant drive through truly grotty weather) I brought my cake inside, only to find that Bex had been baking too! So when it came time for coffee and cake, we were able to choose between Bex's very tasty chocolate cake, or my butter cake with crumble topping. Actually, we all ended up trying some of both.

The butter cake was really quite nice, though I think the cake was more successful than the topping - quite light and fluffy, despite sitting in a hot tin all the way to Rakaia (I'd expected the bottom to get soggy). The topping was pretty much what you'd expect - crunchy, crumbly - but I don't really think it added much to the cake.

So the cake got the thumbs up from my taste-testers, though it left Bex wondering what she could possibly do with all the leftover cake. Rich tried to convince us he could eat all of it, but Bex chose the far more sensible option of spreading the joy (and the calories) by passing on part of both cakes to some neighbours. Hope they enjoyed it!

1 comment:

  1. hey robs don't forget the conversion table at front which shows how many T,t,Cs etc for however many gms. I use that a lot.


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