Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Two days, eleven cakes

I've spent two days baking in London in both senses - 1) it's been pleasantly warm and sunny, therefore infernal on the Tube, and 2) I've been making cakes. I continue to feed my addiction to cake courses at Cakes 4 Fun, where I have done most of my cake decorating training and which I view as my alma mater. "Alma" is Latin for "nourishing/food-giving", an apt description as Cakes 4 Fun offers a constant supply of freshly baked cake. I would recommend their courses to anyone - the instructors are young, fun and talented and their culinary enthusiasm leaves you with an obsession with a passion for cake. It is also fascinating to see the amazing cakes their large working kitchen produces each day - I'll never forget the eerily realistic Mick Hucknall cake. 

Baking Day One revisited some old classics and let me try some new recipes - madeira, Victoria sponge, chocolate buttermilk cake with ganache (yum) and Genoise with Italian buttercream (double yum). 
The challenge was to find good homes for all eight cakes - big thanks to Vicky, Madi, Mary, Michelle, Tom, Joy and Annabel for helping me out. 

Saturday was a day off baking and I spent a lovely afternoon picnicking with Annabel on Wimbledon Common, a place so fancy it has special pelican crossings for horses.
How do they press the little button with their cumbersome hooves?
The picnic started healthily with a sandwich and a fruit salad, until we discovered the ice cream cabinet and Annabel treated us to a bag of Cameroons.
We went for a long walk across the Common which became a lot longer when we got lost. There were no roadsigns or helpful wardens, and neither hide nor hair of a bloody Womble. We worried that we'd be out there all night with nothing but a bag of honey fudge for sustenance. Luckily googlemaps came to our rescue, though it was too late to help the fudge.
I still like to pronounce this in the Greek fashion Oo-EEM-blay-don
Baking Day Two furnished me with a swiss roll, a red velvet and a sachertorte. When the instructor asked "does anyone know how to make a swiss roll?" I had to stifle the eight year old inside me from giving the correct answer. You know what it is. The swiss roll was absolutely delicious, crammed with whipped double cream. It was donated to an anonymous lady in the upstairs class who had tried to call dibs on my sachertorte but was told politely GET YOUR THIEVING HANDS OFF MY CHOCOLATE CAKE.

Red velvet cake is a southern treat now popular across the US and gaining a foothold in the UK. I have reservations about this cake but this is a good recipe and I could eat the cream cheese frosting by the bowlful (I did, to be honest).

I handed this cake over to Vicky without alighting from my hot little Tube carriage. We arranged that I would be in the front carriage and as the doors opened at Sloane Square, I exchanged the cake for a blast of cool air. The doors closed before I had time to shout "keep it in the fridge, it's cream cheese!" It was like a romantic moment from The Briefest of Encounters, or a flawless drugs drop. Except with cake and some baffled looks from other Tube passengers.

The third cake was the sachertorte, a dense chocolate cake made with ground almonds, a layer of apricot jam, a splash or three of cherry brandy and a thick ganache covering. This little bear was going nowhere except Brighton. With me.

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