I have a couple of charity bakes to share today – one for a private cause, and one for the massive BBC event Children in Need. The private one is a cause I was asked by someone at work to help out with; they were running a coffee morning to help raise funds for a friend’s daughter, who has to be flown to the US for pioneering surgery. They wanted a cake to sell on the day, and I was happy to oblige. I made a spiced clementine cake, with a ginger cream cheese filling and a clementine glaze. It was wheat free, and unfortunately as such didn’t rise. I think I’ve made up my mind now that when doing wheat free layer cakes, I’ll just have to bake the layers separately to give them more chance of rising. Baking then splitting works fine for recipes that produce lovely deep cakes, but the last twice I’ve tried this with a wheat free recipe it’s not gone well. Remember the Team Mairead before picture? Nuff said. Though that was the fault of vegan margarine, too… Anyway, the clementine one was a bit lopsided once it was sliced, and it was still very thin even when filled, but I can only hope that the flavour stood up to scrutiny. The trouble with making a big cake like this is that you can’t really get to taste it properly. I made a little fairy cake of the mix, so I tasted that and know it was good, and individually I know that the ginger and cream cheese filing was good, and the glaze was good, but what I always want to do is take a slice out of the finished product and then pass it off as a Pacman cake (while surreptitiously wiping traces of icing off my face). The recipe for the cake, roughly and from memory was:
- 10 oz each margarine, caster sugar and flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp each ginger and cinammon
Mix the ingredients together and bake in a ten inch cake tin, at 180C, until risen and golden brown – start checking after 30 minutes.
The part I really liked about this cake was the glaze – I loved the idea of having little pieces of clementine pulp through it, it was really attractive to look at and tasted lovely, too. It was just a case of squeezing out two clementines into icing sugar until I had a thick pouring consistency that would set over the top of the cake without all running off the sides and leaving a bald spot (like this poor banana and whisky cake). Unfortunately, any close up pictures I took were blurred – I photographed the cake in the morning before work, because I was up late baking it, and had no time to review them. You get a rough idea from this photo, but it’s certainly not my finest non-camera-brand-specific moment. The little bits of pulp add a great texture as well as occasional bursts of sweet flavour. The ginger and cream cheese filling wasn’t too dreadful either, right enough – that was equal amounts of butter and cream cheese, mixed with twice as much icing sugar and with ground ginger added half a teaspoon at a time to taste.
The Children in Need cake stall is a yearly event, and in my three and a bit years with the company it’s been a bit of a highlight. I should admit up front that I’m not mad about the programme itself – it’s not something I’d watch. Sorry everyone. However, I’ve volunteered to work every year (this will be my fourth) and I enjoy it more than a lot of people seem willing to believe. There’s the excitement of live TV without the seriousness of news, so the atmosphere is charged but, from my point of view, fun and fast paced without being stressful. This is probably not the case for anyone who has a more demanding job than escorting people to their seats or rattling a bucket indiscriminately at passers by, but then again they probably chose to be in the job they’re in and get some kind of weird buzz out of it. To get back on topic, the CiN cake stall was this morning, and was a roaring success as usual. If you don’t get there as soon as it opens you end up in a long queue of sugar starved people, watching the other, earlier people walk past with paper plates full of all the best stuff… It raises a lot of money for the charity, and it kind of brings people together, too. Not permanently, usually, but for that moment, there is none of the awkwardness that you get between people who see each other every day but don’t actually *know* each other. For the rest of the year you might stand in lifts together, silent and feeling like this might be the slowest lift journey anyone’s ever heard of, but for two minutes you’re brought together by a love of sugar, flour, butter and fancy decorations.
Here are my creations for this year – they’re a bit ‘rustic’ but they are cute with it, I like to think. They’re also Pudsey themed, to go with this year’s slogan of ‘Show your spots, let’s raise lots’. They’re *also* also wheat free – wheat free chocolate cake with white chocolate fudge icing, to be exact. Again, I didn’t get to try these once they were done, but they smelled delicious coming out of the oven, and of course I tasted the icing, which was lovely and almost custardy. I adapted both recipes from the Hamlyn All Colour 200 Cupcakes recipe book. Good old Amazon lets you have a peek inside the book, but it’s a good one with a lot of ideas for decoration as well as lots of recipes for cupcakes both sweet and savoury. The cakes are as you’d imagine, using light brown sugar and cocoa powder for a deep chocolatey flavour (although no melted chocolate in them, which I always think gives a delicious, moist texture to a cake). The icing is a mix of white chocolate and milk – soy milk, in my case – which is melted together and then combined with icing sugar to give a thick paste. Mine didn’t thicken up as much as I’d like, but it still gave excellent coverage and hardened overnight, making the cakes easier to transport without bashing them and easier to eat without getting covered in white chocolate, I imagine. Apparently they were the first wheat free item to sell out. This made me feel proud, and as such I shall have to save lots of baby birds that have fallen out of their nests, or something, to make up my karma points again. Cos that’s how karma works, you know.