The concluding part of this tragicomic tale is here at last. Sadly, I haven’t invented a time machine that enabled me to go back and take more photos of the cake in its various stages of construction, and nor has there been occasion to make it again in order to get those same photos but without all the impossible space-time business. We will have to rely on words alone, and my vague concept of what the recipe might have been for the constituent parts…
We left the tale as I was gloomily munching on cake offcuts and staring at a cake that looked as though it had been crushed by an ACME ton weight and then sliced in half. I decided to just go ahead and slice the cake horizontally and fill it with jam and buttercream, even though it was so thin. I should have just done this in the first place, as it now had the added difficulty of being in two halves already. I used my trusty cake wire to make the cut, which was happily successful and drama-free, then applied the cucumber jam to the cut surface of the cake. This much-doubted jam was made as follows:
- Grate one 9oz cucumber into a small pot and heat until bubbling
- Reduce for ten minutes or so, or until the flesh has broken down into liquid
- Add the sugar and boil until softly set, about 20 minutes? This is a guess. You’ll know it’s ready because it will be sticky and syrupy looking and will drip from the spoon rather than pour. I’m not a jam expert in anyone’s book, but this how I judged it and it worked out alright.
- Set aside to cool, then decant into a jar and store in the fridge.
The jam is a little like lime marmalade in appearance, with the cucumber rind remaining intact in the face of being boiled. It gives a pleasant crunch to the jam which contrasted well with the soft sponge and creamy frosting. The flavour is sweet and delicate, with only a hint of cucumber, really. There was enough to fill a ten inch cake.
I topped the layer of jam with a layer of strawberry buttercream. I made the buttercream as follows:
- Puree some strawberries in a blender – three or four is enough
- Take 100g of butter at room temperature and mix in the strawberry puree with a hand mixer, until the two are softened and combined
- Add icing sugar gradually; you’ll need about 250 – 300g? Again, a bit of guesswork here, I got fed up measuring as I had to add more and more icing sugar to make up for the liquid in the strawberries. I also ended up with far too much buttercream, if there is such a thing…
Once the sponge was filled, I replaced the top halves and squished down a little. The good thing about buttercream is that it will hide a lot of mistakes. Unfortunately, one of the mistakes it won’t hide is the fact that you’ve lopped off two slices from the edges of a round cake… I did my best though, and then finished it off with some strawberry halves and glitter, because there are few cakes that glitter can’t improve.
The photos of the strawcumber cake are from after girls night portions were handed out and devoured. When I announced that the cake was a sponge (ooooh…) with strawberry buttercream (mmmmm…) and cucumber jam (oo…ooooh?) there was a general feeling of uncertainty, to say the least. This was soon resolved as everyone took a bite and thoroughly enjoyed the flavour combination. It’s a bit like Pimms, but a cake, and better.
Since the sponge ended up being very plain, I won’t go through the recipe and method; you can get a nice, clear recipe for a plain sponge in a hundred places, but cucumber jam is a different story, and one I’ll tell properly before too much longer. For now, thanks for bearing with me while I muddled through this cake stress. It’s a learning curve sometimes, this baking malarkey.