Week One: Cake
HAPPY ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE DAY!!!!!
Week One: Cake*
I love the way this book is split up into chapters by the competition challenges and days that correspond to that week. It's such a lovely format to make you feel fully immersed in the world of Bake Expectations (and can we just take a moment to appreciate BAKE EXPECTATIONS!? What a good name. I wish I'd thought of it. I had so many baking-literary-pun-themed names I wanted for this blog but someone else had already come up with all of them.)
I won't lie, I had high expectations for Rosaline Palmer, which I try so hard not to do because I always worry that if my expectations are too high I will just be let down.
Thank goodness that didn't happen here.
This book is, as expected, delightful... dare I say... delicious. It is sweet and charming and laugh-out-loud funny, while still saying some serious and important things that make your heart go all up and down and backwards and sideways. You know you agree with me (or you haven't started reading it yet, in which case, I really hope you do and soon because I am VERY prepared to bake and write a lot about this book.)
So, I laughed and loved this book from page one with Lauren and Rosaline and the beet cake. I love seeing the set up for Rosaline's relationships with Lauren, and then with Amelie... and the scene with the teacher tells us so much about who Rosaline is and how she exists in the world while also providing the perfect excuse to set up the perfect little meet-cute with Alain. Love it all. I even love the absolutely brilliant cringiness when she lies to Alain and you just are like ughrfjdadlkfjn nooooo this is going to go so badddddddd. I love the intro to Anvita and the other Bake Expectations contestants... particularly Anvita's descriptions of the "stone cold hotties." I too hope Harry makes it to bread week.
And let's talk about Harry. Specifically, the way Harry responds when Rosaline asks him not to call her "love."
I mean, how very perfect?
Because it's so cool when someone doesn't do things that you don't like, but it's nowhere near as cool as someone stopping doing something you don't like. You know what I mean? And then the way he reacts to her name... "They named you after a nun in a play what isn't even in the play?" I laughed so hard. I cannot even articulate the love I have for Harry's reaction to Rosaline's name, but if I didn't love him then, I definitely loved him the moment he called her mate and the way he kept on doing it.
But we're not just here to talk about the book. We're also here to talk about the cakes.
I already did my bit on Alain's chocolate cake with basil buttercream. I'm sorry that I didn't make the mint ice cream to go with it, cuz I do have mint in my little garden (where my basil came from too, btw, I don't think I mentioned that)... and it sounds lovely and I do like a mint ice cream. Maybe next time.
So let's talk about some other cakes.
Blind Bake: Dundee
First off, *love* calling the equivalent of the technical challenge the blind bake. Very clever. Five stars.
I had never heard of a Dundee cake, so I googled and I chose this recipe from BBC food. My notes are added to the ingredients list. I edited the directions slightly as well.
- 175g/6oz softened butter, plus extra for greasing
- 175g/6oz soft light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp orange marmalade
- 3 free-range eggs, beaten
- 225g/8oz self-raising flour Make your own if you don't have any. I followed the instructions here, made a few cups of it and store it in a container to use as needed.
- 25g/1oz ground almonds
- 1 heaped tsp ground mixed spice- Okay so I kind of love this- like who calls it "mixed spice"? What even is that? I used cinnamon, some freshly ground nutmeg, allspice, ground ginger, and a pinch of cardamom, because... those are some mixed spices. Next time I think I'd add some fresh orange or other citrus zest too.
- 400g/14oz mixed dried fruit- Again, I weirdly love this vague instruction. I had raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried Turkish apricots, and ginger chips,
- 75g/3oz glacé cherries, halved- I did not have glacé cherries so I made my own! Such fun! You just boil a drained jar of maraschino cherries in 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of the syrup for like 45 minutes (I followed these directions!)
- 2 tbsp whisky or milk. Whiskey. Obviously, whiskey. Who would ever choose milk over whiskey?
- 1 tsp granulated or caster sugar, to decorate (optional). I used regular sugar because I'm American and caster (which apparently is the norm in the UK (superfine here)) is expensive and seemed unnecessary for mere decoration.
- 40g/1½oz blanched almonds to decorate. I blanched my own almonds too! It was surprisingly fun to pinch the almonds out of their skins. I blanched too many but it was worth it.
Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease and line a 9 inch deep cake tin with parchment paper.
Beat the butter and soft light brown sugar in a food processor for 3–4 minutes, or until very light and fluffy.
Add the marmalade and mix for a few seconds. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour, ground almonds and spices to the batter. Mix slowly until well combined, then stir in the mixed dried fruit and cherries with a large metal spoon or spatula (I used a spatula). Add the whisky or milk and mix until well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, smooth the surface and carefully arrange the blanched almonds in circles on top. (I forgot to do this and just decorated with them, which was annoying because they kept falling off, so do try to remember to add them at the right time.)
Bake for 1½–2 hours, or until well risen, firm and golden-brown. (Test the cake by inserting a skewer into the centre. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done.)
Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, peel off the lining paper and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Store in a cake tin and eat within 4–5 days.
So, honestly, I wasn't expecting much of this cake, but it is lovely. It looks dense, but it isn't really. And just look at that even fruit distribution! it came out so nice! The flavor is lovely. It is great with a cup of coffee for breakfast. Super easy, super tasty. Highly recommend. Five stars.
Rosaline's Chocolate Beet Cake
I have had a chocolate beet cake once before. A friend had previously made Mary Berry's chocolate beet cake and generously shared some with me, and Mary Berry is obviously a reliable source for British recipes, so that is what I made, with only the slightest of alterations. The recipe I used is available here.
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 50g/1¾oz cocoa powder
- 150g/5½oz self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 175g/6oz light muscovado sugar I used light brown sugar because I didn't have muscovado and it worked just fine
- 300ml/½ pint sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
- 225g/8oz raw beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated (about 2 medium beetroots) I grated the beets on a fine grater attachment, even though the book says Rosaline used the coarse grater attachment for her food processor. But I just wanted it on fine. I don't regret this choice.
Preheat the oven to 1350F. Grease and line a 9" round baking pan.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa, flour, baking powder and sugar. Stir a little using a wooden spoon then gradually mix in the oil and beat until combined to give a thick batter. Once smooth, stir in the grated beetroot.
Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for about 35 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch. Remove and set aside to cool before icing.
I have to say it is not the prettiest of cakes, but I like it. It's.... rustic?
And again, I love that color. It's pretty, it's moist, and it tastes quite lovely so long as you don't mind your chocolate cake tasting a bit of beets. As I've said before, I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate cake, but I *am* a big fan of beets and I rather love this cake. It's a weird but honestly kind of lovely combination.
All in all, love the book. Love the recipes so far. Stay tuned... coming up next... PIE!
*I know the book breaks it down as "Week One: Chocolate," but Dundee cake doesn't have chocolate it in it so I'm calling it cake week. Sorry.