Who Said Baking was a Relaxing Pastime?

Lou made this fabulous cake as a raffle prize.

Lou made this fabulous cake as a raffle prize.

It seems like ages since I last baked, so it was great fun to get back to the pans by making a cake for EdinburghBakers charity cake scoffing at Café Musa for It’s Good to Give, ‘It’s Good 2 Eat Cake’ evening. There were over twenty cakes of every shape, size, colour and flavour and the event made £755 for Lynne McNicoll’s charity.
Here are some of the cakes that were wolfed down last Tuesday.

It's good 2 eat cake

It’s good 2 eat cake

For more pictures of all the bakes, pop over to the Edinburgh Bakers blog.

I decided to revisit a cake that I made on the Great British Bake Off for It’s Good 2 Eat Cake. It looks simple and pretty, but don’t be fooled, the method for this bake is complex and I had several issues with it.

All I can say is I’m glad these problems didn’t happen on the show. Who said baking was a relaxing pastime?

I used fifteen eggs making this damn cake. First disaster, overcooking the egg yolks. Second and third calamity – egg whites not billowing into big fluffy clouds. The whites just wouldn’t whisk. A quick call to Ross Baxter of The Bakery Dunbar, sorted me out. If it’s a humid day, add a pinch of cream of tartar.

Let the mayhem begin!

From this …

A few ingredients for the pain in the arse cake!

A few ingredients for the pain in the arse cake!

… to this
The Final Result

Should be renamed as the Trial and Tribulation Cake!


For the cake
8oz/225g unsalted butter, softened
8oz/225g caster sugar
5 medium free-range/organic eggs, at room temperature
6oz/185g plain flour, sifted
4oz/115g unsalted pistachios, finely ground
4oz/115g dried cranberries
1tbsp orange flower water
Grated orange zest
Butter for greasing tin

For the icing
4oz/115g white icing sugar, sifted
Flat tspn butter
2 tbsp orange flower water
A few drops of orange oil

To decorate
1tbsp whole pistachios
1 tbsp dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
Grease a deep 8inch round cake tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl cream the butter (it must be very soft) and sugar until fluffy and pale; use whichever method you are comfortable with – wooden spoon, electric hand whisk or mixer of your choice.
Separate eggs and put the whites in a spotlessly, grease-free bowl (I wipe beaters and bowl with lemon juice and dry with kitchen roll) and put the yolks into a heatproof bowl.
Place the bowl with the yolks over a pan of hot water; whisk with an electric hand whisk until they pale, thick, foamy and the mix falls back into the bowl leaving a ribbon-like trail. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water otherwise you’ll end up with cooked egg.
Remove bowl from the pan and whisk for a few minutes more until cold, otherwise if it is too hot it will melt the creamed butter.
Combine the thickened eggs into the creamed butter and then gently fold in the flour, ground pistachios, cranberries, grated orange zest and orange flower water.
Whisk the egg whites until firm but not stiff. Add a large dollop of whites into the cake mix and stir to slacken. With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the rest of the whites in three batches. When thoroughly combined, spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, level mix making a small dip in the centre so it rises evenly. I sometimes don’t because I like a cracked domed top. Bake for about 1 to 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (check after an hour). If the cake looks as if it’s browning too quickly, cover with either a piece of foil or some greaseproof paper.
Remove the cake from the oven, put the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave for 5 minutes before unmolding the cake. Leave it to cool completely before icing.

Put all icing ingredients into a small pan (with the orange oil add it drop by drop and taste as you go to make sure it doesn’t overpower the icing). Heat gently and stir until smooth and the butter has melted. If icing stiff add a little water. Pour the warm icing over the cake.
Crush pistachios, sprinkle over cake and dot with cranberries.
Put your feet up and enjoy a slice with a well-earned cuppa.

© Lea Harris, Off the Eaten Track, 2013.


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