it’s friday afternoon. the much anticipated bundt tin arrived yesterday and i have promised many people cake. not to be the sort of person who lets her mouth write cheques her body can’t cash, i get to work.
to start off i have to say that i am very happy that i went with the masterclass bundt. the weight is excellent! i wash my new friend in warm water and butter and flour as directed by the recipe. as mentioned before i am playing with annie bell’s baking bible which i recently received as a gift. i especially wanted to bake for my neighbour to say thank you for the book. i used a handy little tea strainer to dust the flour over the buttered surface. this way you don’t get too much flour in the pan which can leave a white residue on the cake. this is especially noticeable on chocolate cake. for this reason some people will dust with cocoa instead (for chocolate cakes). i tap any excess flour out of the pan before i start making the batter.
now i don’t usually butter and flour baking tins. usually i’m happy with just butter or i use greaseproof paper. prior to today the only thing i would butter and flour is my madeleine tray but lets just say i learnt that lesson the hard way. today i figured i’d better do a good job.
the first time you try a recipe read it through a couple of times so that you get to grips with what to expect and what the steps are so that you’re ready. i chopped up the chocolate up front and i weighed my mixing bowl so that i could do a precise split for the chocolate and vanilla sponge (as i type this a lightbulb goes off in my head. i can use the same method to make sure i split the batter equally when i’m baking layered cakes! yay!). i cream the butter, which i remembered to take out of the fridge before hand, and the sugar until the mixture is paler than it was when i started. i need 6 medium eggs…i have large. but before i lose hope i check the front of the book where a good baker will layout fundamentals of measurements and ingredients. annie bell regards a medium egg as weighing 53 to 63 grams. a simple weighing and i know that my ‘large’ eggs are right on the money. disaster averted. using eggs that are too big or too small can affect the consistency of the cake. i’ve had instances where using bigger eggs than required lead to a cake that flopped because there wasn’t enough flour the counter the extra egg. so sad.
the recipe book says to use room temperature eggs. now like with butter i almost never take eggs out of the fridge ahead of baking. today for the first time i realised why this is so important. i noticed then when i added the cold egg to the butter/sugar mixture the butter would solidify making it harder to mix in the egg. every time i add an egg to the mixture the butter hardens and sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl.
in short i didn’t achieve a nice blended mixture of eggs, butter and cream. i didn’t take the eggs out and to quote the legendary Kris Kross “and that is something that i will never ever, ever do again” although they were referring to a public transport scheduling issue. yet again i have gone off on a merry little tangent.
i kept beating (well lola kept beating) and then i added the milk which made the mixture look properly curdled. the recipe says not to worry about this. i split the egg mixture and added flour and the chocolate to one lot and cocoa and flour to the other. because the egg mixture had curdled it was not just a case of folding in the flour but actively (and gently) mixing until it reconstituted. this was most noticeable on the cocoa batter.
the recipe calls for a tablespoon of rum in the vanilla sponge. i was so excited about folding in the chocolate that i completely forgot about the rum. to say that i am mortified is an understatement. i was completely psyched about this flavour addition. poor me. ag maybe i’ll throw it into the melted chocolate that we will use for the topping. where there’s a will…
so i placed the chocolate batter into the bundt as directed. created a trough and added the vanilla.
i also licked the back of that spoon 🙂
i popped it into the oven and started cleaning. whenever i bake a new recipe i make an epic mess.
to help you bide the time while I wash up I’ll tell you a story. when i got home this morning my neighbour asked if i wanted a car wash. i laughed it off as a joke about how dirty the car was. i told him that it must be bad if i was getting offered free car washes. to this he asked if i was going to be home and said he’d come by later to wash it for me. even asked me my flat number.
i was half way through washing up when my buzzer rang. the neighbour had arrived to wash my car. he said not to worry about coming down but i did anyway. introduced myself properly and offered some cake as a token of my gratitude. i may have over-subscribed this particular baking activity. we’ll see how it goes.
when i get back into the flat the cake smells ready but i still have 33 minutes on the timer. i convince myself that its just because i was outside that the aroma is so strong and distract myself with sorting out the laundry. but what if it burns. what if it’s dry, what if i can’t serve this to all the people i’ve promised cake to??? so much for distracting myself.
with 20 minutes still left on the timer i’m using my cellphone flashlight to peer into the oven (no oven light) and trying to decide what to do. the recipe says to bake at 190 deg C in an electric oven. when i bake from the hummingbird cookbook i use their temperatures without issue and then it hits me. what if annie bell isn’t at sea level. what if she’s high up in the mountains overlooking a beautiful valley? calm down…she’s from the uk. then what on earth is going on???
i pull the cake out, immediately realise my mistake and put it back in again. please don’t flop please don’t flop please don’t flop. i go finish folding the laundry.
with 10 minutes left on the timer i pull the cake out again. the top is heavily cracked and has risen unevenly.
two possible reasons. firstly the baking powder was not evenly distributed or secondly the placement of the batter in the pan was not as even as i thought. but it’s cooked through and the slight moisture on the knife tells me that it hasn’t dried out.
i slide a knife around the edges carefully because i don’t want to scratch my new baking tin. i leave the cake in the tin for half an hour as instructed (see i can do as i’m told…sometimes!).
the cake comes out easy-peasy.
the recipe says to let the cake cool completely before pouring over the chocolate. it’s 7pm so i go and join my husband and a few friends at our local for a whiskey (and some bar snacks).
i get back at 9 and start making the chocolate topping. now to be honest i’m feeling rather lazy and the idea of weighing, measuring and double-boiling things just is not as a appealing as it normally would be…so i wing it. i get a mixture that is too runny so i add more chocolate which doesn’t quite work. i then pop it into the fridge to see if it will set. at this stage i’m checking it every two minutes which of course is not enough time to see any difference. then i get fed up and go make myself some tea. when i come back ten minutes later the damn thing has solidified. urgh! i should have waiting for the morning to do the topping.
i add more rum and start whisking until i have something that looks like butter cream. learnt something new today. how to make icing without icing sugar. come home after a few whiskies and don’t follow the recipe…simple as that!
i layer my new-fangled icing over the cake and put on moonstruck and finish my tea. with my second cup of tea i decide that i can no longer wait to see what the marble inside looks like.
i am very pleased. and it tastes yummy too.
lessons learnt: whiskey makes you risky. take out the eggs.
a note: it came out in casual conversation in the week that my husband does not like being referred to as the hubby. in light of this revelation he will henceforth be referenced by his given name, bear. by given name i of course mean that it was bequeathed unto him by his friends.