So onto the interesting part, cake.
Every year, whoever is tasked with baking the birthday cake (me usually) ends up in a massive discussion about the cake. Mum always wants…..Victoria sponge! Even with real cream and strawberries, it is the dullest of dull cakes. The cake to cream ratio is all wrong. To me, this is an everyday tea time sort of cake not a “yippee it’s my birthday!” kind of cake. So after the usual drama, we decided on this:
I made a regular 3 egg vanilla sponge cake and divided it up between 6 mini flan tins. Conveniently enough, there was enough batter left over for 2 fairy cakes. I cooked these in a 180° oven for about 15 minutes until a skewer came out clean and left them to cool completely covered by a damp tea towel (My mum can not abide a dry cake!). I whipped up 200ml of double cream with a heaped teaspoon of caster sugar and the seeds from a vanilla pod. The cream was dolloped onto the unmolded sponges and decorated with sliced strawberries and a little kiwi, for colour.
On Sunday we were expecting some visitors for tea and mum also wanted some cake to take to work today so I made a coffee and walnut cake. Usually I don’t go for cakes with butter cream icing but this icing was lovely and light, not at all what I remember from childhood cakes and nothing like the fluorescent cupcake icing you get on shop bought cakes. The recipe was This Mary Berry/Lakeland one with a few minor adjustments. The original recipe is an all in one cake but those never work out well for me so I stuck to the traditional method. Here’s how:
- 225g softened butter
- 220g light muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp coffee extract
- 4 eggs
- 270g self raising flour
- 2 tbs double cream/milk
- 75g chopped walnuts
- 75g softened butter
- 220g sifted icing sugar
- 2 tsp double cream/milk
- 1 tsp coffee extract
- 75-100 walnut halves
- Preheat the oven to 180° fan. If you have a 12″×9″ tin grease and line it. I don’t so I used a square 9″ tin and a 9″ long loaf tin for the excess.
- Beat the butter, sugar and extracts until they are pale and fluffy and there are no lumpy sugary bits.
- Add the eggs one by one beating well after each addition. If it looks like it might split, add a tablespoon of flour and continue.
- Sift in the rest of the flour and add the cream and walnuts. Using a spatula or metal spoon, fold until just combined. Plop it into the tin and smooth the top.
- Bake for 35-45 min if you used a traybake pan. Mine took about 30 mins. Cool on a wire rack
- To make the icing, put all the ingredients(except the walnut halves) in a bowl and stir gently. Once the icing sugar is incorporated, whisk until light and fluffy.
- Spread on the cooled cake and decorate with walnut halves.
If you are a mad icing fan, I would suggest doubling the icing recipe. This amount gives you enough for a thin layer on top. But so far this is one of my favourite coffee walnut cakes!