Friday, September 26, 2014

Spiced Cakes - A Belated Baking Update

I can't believe how long it is since I posted about my bake-by-bake journey through Mary Berry's Baking Bible. It was back in June when we arrived triumphantly (and with no little relief!) at the end of the fruit cake section and, since then, I've worked through the entire Spice Cake section. Plenty of baking - just not so much blogging!

We started back in June with a treacle trio - Parkin Cake, Classic Sticky Gingerbread and Iced Gingerbread with Stem Ginger. The best of these was the Classic Sticky Gingerbread which was very, very similar to the Jamaican Ginger Cake I've bought many times before. It was so moist and sticky and delicious, and such a hit with my guests and OB that I only just managed to get a snap of this last piece before OB chomped it up!


Then came a cake I was particularly looking forward to - Almond Spice Cake. I love all things almond and was thrilled to see that the recipe called for a yummy layer of marzipan or almond paste right through the middle of the cake. Sadly, even though the cake looked almost exactly the same as the photo in the book, it was pretty disappointing. This was entirely due to user error! I just couldn't get the topping to go right. Impatient as always I didn't wait until the sugar dissolved properly in the sugar/butter/cream mixture and the result was grainy and unpleasantly crunchy. A real shame. The cake itself was a little dry. I definitely want to give it another try, and next time I'll probably be a lot more generous than the recipe suggests with the almond paste!



Then came a ginger duo - Sticky Ginger and Orange Cake and Wholemeal Ginger Cake. Both were lovely and I baked one of them for the dedication party of my friends' daughter. It seemed to go down pretty well!

Next, Apple and Cinnamon Cake. Now, I'm not a massive fan of cinnamon. It's not that I don't like it, but to me it's such a strong taste that it can easily overpower everything else. I don't ever put it in my apple pie because I actually like the taste of apple, so I wasn't expecting to love this cake. I was pleasantly surprised. I served it, as suggested, warm from the oven and added dollops of mascapone with each slice. It was a triumph! And not too cinnamony either. When I tried it again the next day, the cinnamon taste was much stronger so I suppose it must have matured overnight. This would make a really special dessert - now if only I could cook a decent main course to go before it!



Today I have made the Cut and Come Again cake, which is basically a light fruit cake. I think it's the two teaspoons of ground mixed spice that earn it a place in the Spiced Cakes section. OB and I had a piece, still warm and crumbly from the oven, after tea. OB is definitely a fan of the fruit cake. Most of what I bake gets a cursory lick before being passed back to me, but I don't stand a chance if there's a fruit cake around!

Speaking of OB, I've been making a concerted effort to get him more involved in the baking recently. Not being a fan of mess and chaos, I've usually restricted him to some light stirring and one hand on the mixer, but today I let him measure out the flour and sugar, hold the mixer by himself and help with turning out into the tin. He was happy to do all that, but the highlight of the day was when I let him break the eggs all by himself - normally I don't even let him touch them! The mess wasn't so bad, and his enjoyment of the whole thing and proud ownership of the finished product was so lovely to see that it was definitely worth the risk.


There is one more bake in the Spiced Cake section but, since the Ginger Cream Roll is not really a cake so much as a load of ginger biscuits soaked in brandy and welded together with cream, I've decided to skip it.

Next . . . Chocolate Cakes! Bring it on!

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