Monday, 28 July 2008


This is the first in a series I am calling “CAFTA” or, if you prefer it in full: Cake’s Achievement in Film and Television Arts. Do not confuse it with BAFTA – it’s pure coincidence the acronyms share all but their first letter...ahem.

The purpose of CAFTA is to recognise any particularly fine contribution made by a cake in the world of film and television. For too long cake’s achievement in the dramatic arts has gone unrecognised….until now.

The first winner of the CAFTA award for best cake in a supporting role is this rather wonderful slice of chocolate Swiss roll sharing a scene with David Tennant in the BBC drama series Blackpool.

Even David Tennant seems to acknowledge it has stolen the scene:

Sadly, information is lacking as to this slice of cake’s other roles; perhaps it went and tried its luck in Hollywood. I would love to see it attempting some Shakespeare or perhaps a comedy, although on the strength of this photo I suspect its fate may have been something a little more terminal......

If you have seen any cake on TV or film that deserves nomination for an award (and you have a photo to prove it) please let me know.

Incidentally, if you're anything like me and are interested in all things cake and Tennant, you might enjoy this (very brief) clip:

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Strawberry buttercream layer cakes

These make a pretty and sophisticated looking dessert out of what is basically just cupcakes and buttercream. Oddly, although strawberries are undoubtedly the star of this dish, you only need 4 to make the buttercream!

The buttercream looks very dry and crumbly....

...until you add 4 strawberries:

If you wish, you can drizzle a little strawberry or raspberry liqueur over the layers of sponge; I didn’t as my eatership for these included a child and a teetotaller.

Cut each sponge into 4 layers:

Spreading the buttercream over the outside proved a “challenge” (i.e. lots of swearing) but I blame the 29 degrees centigrade temperature of my kitchen rather than the recipe – hot weather is lovely in many ways, making buttercream is not one of them!

The cupcakes look very pretty when finished, a bit like Daleks if they discovered their feminine side:

But no one would guess what the inside looks like!

For the sponges:
190g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g caster sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons milk (whole or semi skimmed)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the buttercream:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar
4 strawberries, hulled and chopped
Optional: strawberries to decorate the finished cakes.

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Grease 8 individual pudding basins.
- Start by making the sponges: beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, flour, milk and vanilla to the mix and beat until thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the pudding basins and bake until the cupcakes are golden and risen, and a skewer comes out cleanly. This will take approximately 20-25 minutes i.e. longer than a cupcake as the basins are deeper.
- When cooked, leave to cool on a wire rack and turn out of the basins as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Invert the cake on the rack as this is how you will be serving them.
- Now make the buttercream: whisk the butter in a bowl and gradually whisk in the icing sugar.
- Add the chopped strawberries and whisk until they are mashed up and have turned the buttercream pink.
- Now assemble the dessert: start by levelling the base of the cupcake so that your stacks don’t slide everywhere. Slice each cake into 3 or 4 layers (depending on how tall your sponges are) . Spread buttercream on one side of each layer and reassemble.
- Spread buttercream around the sides of the cake so that no cake is visible. Chill until required, and take out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before serving.
- Decorate further with strawberries if you want to.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Custard teacake

This is a rather plain looking cake but if beauty is on the inside – which it is, right? – then this cake is Miss World. The thick layer of custard baked into this cake means it’s never going to rise to be a Titan of the cake world, but who needs height when there’s lashings of custard?

The thick layer of custard hidden in the centre of the cake:

“Custard” is one of those words that makes me smile and anticipate nice things. If given a choice I will always pick the dessert or cake that involves custard; there’s something so pleasing about it – the vanilla scent, the thick creamy texture, the satisfying density of it!

Last December I made an Apple Custard teacake and it remains one of my all time favourites. What caught my attention with today’s recipe is that it’s very similar to the apple custard teacake but without the apples. I rather liked the idea of a cake where the vanilla and custard got to be the stars of the show!

The cake batter also contains custard powder and I find that this makes the batter very yellow but also thicker than a normal sponge resulting in a denser more crumbly texture. The thick layer of custard in the cake means that it might sink a bit in the middle so don’t worry if this happens; having said that, mine didn’t (yay! I rule!).

How do you stop a skin forming as the custard cools? Lay some clingfilm onto the surface:

I served the cake with a cup of tea, but it would also make a lovely dessert cake served with some fruit – perhaps some baked apple?

I choose to make this in a paper case simply because it’s easier to move the cake. When you make the batter, you will think that there isn’t enough to enclose the custard and it is a tight squeeze, but by making it in a paper case you have more stability. My tips for spreading the batter over the custard – which is the trickiest part of the recipe, as you don’t want to have custard leaking out - is to take your time, use a knife rather than a spatula and be gentle. Here it is fresh from the oven; it’s worth taking your time to ensure no custard can leak out over the batter:

For the cake:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
1 egg
110g self raising flour
35g custard powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the custard:
1 tablespoon custard powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
160ml milk (whole or semi skimmed)
15g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Line a 20cm round springform cake tin.
- Start by making the custard: place the milk, custard powder and sugar in a saucepan and stir constantly over a medium heat until the custard is smooth and thick.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
- Place clingfilm directly on the surface of the custard to stop a skin forming, and place to one side.
- Now make the cake batter: Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, then the flour, custard powder and vanilla.
- Spread half the batter into the cake pan. It will be a thin layer but make sure there are no holes as the custard will sink into them.
- Spread the custard onto the batter making sure that it doesn’t spread right to the edges – you want the custard to be enclosed in the cake batter.
- Carefully spread the remaining cake batter over the custard. I always leave a spoonful in the bowl so I have something in reserve for patching holes where I can see the custard seeping through. This takes some time and you need to be gently to ensure that you don’t disturb the custard.
- Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly from the edge i.e. where there is no custard. Mine took 40 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. As there is so much squidgy custard in the cake it may sink on cooling – this is normal.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

What the Caked Crusader chose to bake to this week (26 July 2008)

The year was 1987 and a 14 year old Caked Crusader had saved her pocket money and entered the local, independent record store to buy an LP. Imagine her joy to find that the album was at a special sale price, even back then her tastes being somewhat out of step with her peers.

Basia falls into the category of “Why on earth wasn’t this artist more popular in the UK?” Her easy listening mix of jazz pop with Latin rhythms sounds as lovely today as it did back then and, try as I might, I can never resist singing along and mimicking her Polish lilt. Am I the only one who sings along and puts on the singer’s accent? The other one I can never resist is Cerys Matthews’ (Catatonia) strong Welsh accent!

We’re enjoying a mini heat wave in the UK at the moment and there is something forever Summer about Basia’s songs – mostly light hearted, fun and smooth or in other words: perfect Summer listening!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Cherry and almond gratin

Future generations will look back on this time as the golden age of food blogging – there are so many lovely food sites out there that it quite cheers my heart! One of my favourites is Zen Chef’s Chefs Gone Wild and when I saw this recipe on his site, I knew I had to make it!

Luckily, the recipe coincided with the rather brief (and, alas, rather expensive) English cherry season. Nowadays everyone is more concerned about where their food has come from and how it has been grown. My cherries listed the grower on the box so I googled him and – lo and behold – he has a website! Paul Mansfield of Kent is rather an expert in soft fruit and I only hope he approves of how I have used his delicious cherries!

A bowl of pitted cherries – aren’t they beautiful?

And here they are after their brief frolic in sugar and kirsch:

This recipe requires a lot of pitted cherries. I used my new gadget, for the first time and it certainly sped things up:

Similar to a clafoutis but different due to the inclusion of almonds, this is a comforting dessert with a nice balance of fruit and light spongy batter, which goes temptingly crisp on top but remains soft underneath. I made it in one big dish but it would also work in smaller bowls (indeed, this is how Zen Chef served his). As I had some meringue cream already made up, I served it with that but cream or ice cream would work just as well. Meringue cream is my new favourite cream - foamy and light. But I'm fickle and no doubt some other cream will turn my head next week:

Making it in individual bowls would probably look prettier come serving time but I don’t mind it looking a bit rustic, it adds to the 'comfort food' feel of the dish:

If the quantities look strangely precise it’s because I converted the recipe from the US cup system. For those cup-lovers out there, I include the cup quantities in brackets.

For the cherries:
907g (2 pounds) fresh cherries – rinsed, stemmed and pitted
1 tablespoon kirsch
2 tablespoons caster sugar

For the almond cream:
85g (1 cup) ground almonds
114g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tablespoons double cream
130g (1 cup) icing sugar
Several drops of almond extract
Optional - Additional icing sugar for dusting the top before serving

For the meringue cream:
2 egg whites
6 tablespoons caster sugar
178ml (3/4 cup) double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Butter a large baking dish – I used a 25cm square dish.
- Place the cherries, kirsch and sugar in a large saucepan and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Transfer the cherries to the baking dish and put to one side.
- Now make the almond cream. Beat together the ground almonds and butter until the mix is smooth.
- Beat in the eggs, cream and icing sugar and mix until you have a thick, smooth batter.
- Beat in the almond extract.
- Spoon the batter over the cherries.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the gratin is firm to the touch and a deep golden colour. As I baked mine in one big dish it took almost double this time until it was cooked in the centre.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve either warm or at room temperature. The dessert doesn’t keep well and should be eaten on the same day as it is baked.
- If you wish to serve with meringue cream here’s how to make it: Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Gradually beat in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- In a separate bowl beat the cream and vanilla until the stiff peak stage.
- Fold the cream into the egg whites and refrigerate until needed.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Creamy rice pudding cake

The good news is that there is almost a litre of cream in this recipe. The bad news is that the only butter in this cake is the tiny amount you use to grease the cake tin. If you are health conscious simply switch the words “good” and “bad” in these sentences.

This is one of those recipes where, if you’ve decided to make it, you have to make it full on. I was feeling in a particularly sinful mood this weekend so actually stoked it up a bit; I shall explain: the recipe calls for “half and half”. Already this sounded like a compromise but I didn’t know what it was – the internet (how did we ever find stuff out before the internet?) explained that it’s a light cream, a sort of milk and cream hybrid. I’m filled with horror that such a thing should exist and had to go and sit down in a darkened room with soothing flannels on my forehead to recover...I feel a little better now but trauma like this takes time to get over. To register my disgust at such a product I decided to use double cream. Ooooh, and did it taste good!

The lovely colour of the caramel topping was worth a photo of its own:

I served the cake at tea time but it would also make a lovely dessert. Concerned that the cream in the cake might not be enough (it wasn’t quite a litre remember) I served it with meringue cream and then, to make it healthy, some fresh raspberries. The meringue cream is something I will definitely be serving with other cakes – it’s slightly sticky but light and foamy, like mousse.

This cake must also enter the annals of cake history as “The Cake That Proved Too Much for the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma)”. After a couple of forkfuls she threw in the towel muttering about how it was too rich and I should enjoy mocking her now because when I was older, and suffered like her, I’d understand. But hey, I’m not older and am firmly at the “mocking stage” of the cycle! CCM look at your nemesis, see how it laughs at you:

Perhaps this was gilding the lily slightly....

This could well be the ultimate comfort food cake. The soft texture, the creaminess, the dark caramel glaze on top. I think I’m in love.......

We decided to briefly re-heat the cake before serving and I would advise you to do the same as it brings out the best in the texture of the rice. It also explains why the cake is on a baking tray in this photo:

If the quantities look strangely precise it’s because I converted the recipe from the US cup system. For those cup-lovers out there, I include the cup quantities in brackets.

For those of you wondering what pudding rice looks like, here it is:

For the cake:
946ml (4 cups) single or double cream
140g (2/3 cup) pudding rice – if you can’t get this use Arborio or any other short grain Italian rice
100g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
63g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
2 tablespoons water

For the meringue cream:
2 egg whites
6 tablespoons caster sugar
178ml (3/4 cup) double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For serving:
Fruit – I used raspberries but most fruits would work well.

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Use butter to grease one 20cm round springform cake tin.
- Place the cream, rice, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to the simmer, over a medium heat. Stir very frequently.
- Reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed. This took me about 25 minutes. The rice had absorbed a lot of the cream but was still slightly al dente.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes before whisking in the eggs and vanilla.
- Meanwhile, make the caramel glaze. Heat the caster sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring all the time, until the sugar crystals have dissolved. The best way of knowing when this has happened is to look on the back of your spoon – if the liquid is shiny and smooth, the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn the heat up to high and let the sugar bubble away until it turns a lovely deep amber. Do not stir it but occasionally give the pan a shake to ensure the colour of the caramel is even.
- Straight away, pour the caramel into the cake tin and swirl to ensure even coverage. It will set very quickly so you don’t have long to do this.
- Let the caramel cool and set.
- Pour the rice mixture over the caramel and level.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top has browned but the centre of the cake is still slightly quivering. Mine took 45 minutes
- Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before turning out.
- When you turn the cake out make sure you invert it, as the caramel glaze at the bottom of the tin is actually the top of the cake.
- Now make the meringue cream. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- In a separate bowl beat the cream and vanilla until the stiff peak stage.
- Fold the cream into the egg whites and refrigerate until needed.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

What the Caked Crusader chose to bake to this week (19 July 2008)

I know it’s only July but I think I’ve found my album of the year; the fact that it was originally released in 1952 probably says as much about the current music scene as it does me.

Romance: The Vocal Stylings of Oscar Peterson is a joy from start to finish and my only complaint is that the album doesn’t have more tracks. I have to confess that I didn’t know Oscar Peterson sang but his vocals are smooth and heartfelt – imagine a slightly less polished but cooler Nat King Cole.

The album is tricky to get hold of and certainly not cheap but, boy is it worth it! When my copy arrived in the post I had 5 minutes until the start of a TV show I wanted to see. I thought “I’ll just listen to one track and see what it’s like”; TV show forgotten, I ended up listening to the whole album and then went back and re-played my favourite tracks!

I have a weakness for jazz musicians who do a bit of singing on the side; they seem to understand song construction and whilst not necessarily having the most polished voices get the best out of the song: Chet Baker and Jack Teagarden are two names that spring to mind although there are probably more. Now Oscar Peterson can join the list!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Blackberry and almond meringue sponge cake

This is a sandwich cake with a twist; the twist being that one of the cake layers is given a meringue topping which is baked at the same time as the cake. If that makes sense.

Here they are fresh from the oven. Bonus mark for spotting the one with meringue on:

The meringue is tall but cracked and sank a little as it cooled:

This cake could easily be a dessert or a tea time treat. While not as easy to make as a plain sponge sandwich, there’s nothing tricky to this cake yet it looks stunning when brought out on a serving plate or stand. Everyone will think you spent hours on it when, actually, there’s very little hands-on work.

The bottom layer is piled up with bramble jelly and, as I had some blackberries left over I added them. Here is the base, just waiting for some lovely cream:

It must be the strange weather we’ve had so far this summer i.e. lots of rain interspersed with sunshine but moderate temperatures, that is making the summer soft fruit so lovely. I think blackberries are the most gorgeous colour and I love it when you mix them into the sponge and they start to ooze their delicious reddish-purple juice into the cake!

The finished cake is a bit of a stunner. I love this photo as it looks like the two blackberries on the top at the front are about to have a fight and have armed themselves with almond swords! (the one on the left looks particularly "up for it"):

The combination of baked meringue and sponge isn’t one I’ve had before but is lovely – the crunch of the sugary meringue crust sinks into the soft sponge and the thick cream binds it all together. It is quite hard to cut because of all the different textures but however it ends up on the plate it will still taste delightful!

For the cake:
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
200g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 eggs, plus 2 additional egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
2-4 tablespoons milk
100g blackberries, washed and dried

For the meringue:
2 egg whites
100g golden caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra for sprinkling on top
A handful of flaked almonds

For the filling:
200ml double cream, lightly whipped
4 tablespoons bramble jelly
Blackberries, for decoration

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/312°F/Gas mark 3.
- Grease two 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tins.
- Place all the cake ingredients into a bowl – except the blackberries – and beat until creamy and well combined. Stir in the blackberries.
- Spoon the mixture into the two tins and level the surfaces. Put to one side.
- Now make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until thick and glossy.
- Gently spoon on top of one of the cakes and then sprinkle the additional sugar and the flaked almonds on top.
- Bake both cakes for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly from the cake without the meringue. Remove the meringue-free cake from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- The cake with the meringue will take longer to bake. The recipe stated a further 30 minutes, but I found mine only needed an additional 15 minutes. As soon as a skewer comes out cleanly, the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- To serve, spread the bramble jelly over the plain cake and then spoon the lightly whipped cream on top. As I had some blackberries left over, I added them to the bramble jelly.
- Gently place the meringue sponge on top and scatter some blackberries over the meringue for decoration – this is optional.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Strawberry mousse cake

This cake has been haunting me. Whenever I’ve planned to make it something has always come up that has thwarted me – everyone around me is sick of hearing about how I’m going to make it ...and then don’t. Well, the hex is gone – here is the strawberry mousse cake!

The English strawberry season is at its peak right now with luscious berries for sale everywhere you look. Sorry Rest of the World, but I don’t think anywhere can match England for strawberries – lots of strawberries look beautiful (I’m constantly disappointed by stunning looking but tasteless imports) but none have that strong satisfying juiciness and sweetness that you get from growing a strawberry outdoors in the English summer climate. I even love the aroma – that lovely fresh unmistakeable smell that hits you on opening the fridge!

I see this as a dessert cake; a slice of elegance to conclude a lovely lunch or dinner.

The mousse sits on a sponge base. I used the recipe for basic vanilla cupcakes and simply cut the sponge to size; I sliced the domed top off leaving a sponge disc of approximately 2cm tall:

What happened to the dome that I sliced off? Well, I’d like to say that I put it aside to use in a trifle or some such, but the truth is that I made a cup of tea, had a sit down and ate the excess sponge. Perks of the job!

As I knew this would be a tall cake I used a 9cm deep patisserie ring which I purchased from Amazon. You could use a springform cake tin and build up the height with foil but it might not be as effective.

The cake has to sit very snugly at the bottom of the ring – this is why an adjustable ring is helpful:

As desserts go, this is summer on a plate:

Who wants a slice?

Two things I learnt this week:
1. The smell of powdered gelatine makes me feel quite ill to the extent that I had to throw it away.
2. You can convert between leaf and powdered gelatine quite easily if you remember that 1 leaf = 3.5g powder.

For the sponge base:
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
2 tablespoons milk

For the mousse:
350g strawberries, hulled and washed
4 tablespoons icing sugar
5 gelatine leaves (if you want to use powdered gelatine this equates to 17g + 3 tablespoons of boiling water)
300ml whipping cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
Optional: Additional strawberries to set in the mousse

For the topping:
100g strawberries, hulled and washed, plus additional whole strawberries for decoration
1-2 tablespoons icing sugar
3 leaves gelatine (or 10g powdered + 2 tablespoons boiling water)

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Grease one 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tin.
- First make the sponge base. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, flour and milk and ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Spoon into the sandwich tin and level the surface.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Mine took about 23 minutes.
- Leave the sponge to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
- When it is cool, use a knife or wire to cut the “dome” off the sponge as you need a nice flat surface for the mousse to sit on. I cut mine so I had a sponge disc that was 2cm tall.
- Sit the sponge disc on a plate and place a 20cm patissiere’s ring over it. I used this because it was much deeper than a cake tin. If you don’t have a 9cm tall patissiere’s ring then use a 20cm springform tin (without the base) and build up the height using foil or baking paper. However you achieve it, what you’re aiming for is the sponge sitting very snugly at that bottom of a 20cm ring with 9cm depth.
- Now make the mousse: Puree the strawberries (I used my food processor to do this) and place in a saucepan along with the icing sugar.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4-5 minutes.
- Heat the puree and icing sugar until it just reaches boiling point. Taste, to ensure it is sweet enough. If it isn’t, add icing sugar to taste. Leave to cool slightly.
- When the puree is cooler (but still warm) squeeze out any water from the gelatine leaves and stir into the puree ensuring all the gelatine has been fully integrated. Put to one side.
- Whip the cream and icing sugar until the soft peak stage.
- Stir the cooled strawberry puree mix into the cream. Don’t panic that it looks very runny!
- If you choose to, cut some strawberries in half and sit them up on the sponge base so the cut side is pressed against the metal ring. This looks pretty when you come to serve it.
- Pour the mousse gently over the sponge base, taking care not to disturb the halved strawberries (if using).
- Refrigerate until set – at least 2 hours.
- When the mousse is set, you can make the topping. Puree the strawberries and stir in the icing sugar.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 4-5 minutes.
- Heat the puree. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves before stirring into the warm puree.
- Place some strawberries on top of the set mousse, then pour the puree topping over.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

What the Caked Crusader chose to bake to this week (12 July 2008)

It felt like a bit of a marathon stint in the kitchen this Saturday so I needed someone with enough quality recordings to keep me entertained! Step forward Sammy Davis, Jr.

The best track for me is undoubtedly “The Birth of the Blues” – it’s a great song anyway but Sammy’s recordings of it, whether in the studio or live, just seem to ignite my stereo speakers!

I always think you can hear the quality of a singer when the arrangement is stripped bare – there’s nowhere to hide and no depth of sound to cover any vocal wobbles or flaws. Sammy’s album with guitarist Laurindo Almeida, called “Sammy Davis, Jr sings and Laurindo Almeida plays” – it must’ve taken hours to come up with the title! – is a masterpiece. The entire album is Sammy singing with a gentle guitar backing. There’s no showing off or big finishes but there’s plenty of heart and singing that is as near to perfection as it gets.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Traditional coconut slice

You know how in trashy films when aliens abduct someone and replace them on earth with an identical imposter – there’s always a moment when the imposter gives themself away by answering a question in a way the real person wouldn’t causing a friend or relative to become suspicious? Well, I think the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) had such a moment this week. It was Thursday and we were speaking on the phone when she asked me, “What are you baking this week?”. I replied that I hadn’t really thought about it yet. Long pause. “It’s Thursday and you haven’t thought about it yet?” asked the CCM, concern starting to seep into her tone. Don’t panic my lovely readers, I haven’t been abducted by aliens. For some reason no recipe had grabbed me. And then I saw this one.

Pastry, jam and coconut. Perfection. Particularly lovely is the layer of sticky, meringue like coconut. There is a lovely mix of texture – the firm pastry base, the sticky jam and coconut filling topped off with the crisp toasted coconut flakes.

The pastry layer is pressed into the tin, so no need for any rolling:

Next is a generous layer of jam:

Finally the coconut toppings:

Personal milestone: typing out this recipe was the first time I have correctly spelled “desiccated” without spellchecker reminding me that it doesn’t have two S’s in it!

Cake doesn’t look much more traditional than this:

For the pastry base:
100g unsalted butter
200g self raising flour
50g caster sugar
2 egg yolks – save the whites for the topping

For the topping:
7 tablespoons raspberry jam
3 egg whites
100g caster sugar
150g desiccated coconut
Optional: toasted coconut flakes to scatter on top

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Grease and line a deep baking tin approximately 18cm x 27cm.
- First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar, then add the two egg yolks.
- Bring the dough together and add up to 2 tablespoons of water to get a nice moist dough.
- Press the dough into the base of the tin. I use bulldog clips to hold the paper lining to the edge of the tin. If you don’t do this, you will find the paper moves about as you’re pressing the pastry into the tin.
- Spread the jam evenly over the pastry.
- Now make the topping. Whisk the egg whites until very soft peaks start to form. Keeping the whisk going, gradually whisk in the sugar until you get to the soft peak stage.
- Fold in the desiccated coconut and spoon over the jam and pastry.
- Scatter with coconut flakes (optional).
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until the coconut toppings looks set and just starting to turn golden. Mine took 30 minutes.
- Cool in the tin.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.