Cake! (and how to make weird ones)

Cake is one of my favourite things. I bake them often, I bake them well and I wish I could bake them all the time. The only problem is, in a three person household, someone has to eat the cake. Which usually means my mother and I eat more than we should. She’s on a healthy eating kick after having a (small) stroke earlier this year, which means I’ve been experimenting a lot with flavours.

I’ve been baking cake for as long as I can remember. I used to have a ‘big baking book’ (it really was big, double the size of an average cookery book – width/length, not pages) which contained different recipes. Making cake is as much a part of me as any other aspect of my daily life.

I always used to make a Maderia cake, I perfected it and am now rather good at a standard sponge. I don’t buy into the ‘all in one’ preparation idea, I cream the butter and sugar, I pour in some vanilla essence/extract/flavouring, I beat in the eggs, and then I fold in the flour. I always used to make cake the same way. Sometimes I’d add cocoa or chocolate, but it was always the same cake.

At some point along the way I decided to branch out. I decided to try different recipes, take big risks and see what happened.

Since I decided to do this, I’ve prepared cakes in different ways. I’ve melted butter, sugar and chocolate in a pan. I’ve whisked egg whites up until they’re fluffy and then I fold them into the rest of the cake mixture. Preparing a cake in different ways makes it taste or feel differently when you eat it and that is something I was very glad to discover.

I learnt to make a chocolate cake that is so rich that you can’t eat much, but it’s also so moist that it lasts a couple of days longer than an average cake.

I have added lemon, orange, rhubarb, summer fruits and coconut to various different recipes. I have substituted butter for banana, flour for oats and used less sugar in favour of coconut and raisin. I’ve even made Eton Mess, then put it on top of an average sponge instead of cream or butter icing.

Yesterday I baked my mum a cake that contained juice from one orange, banana (in place of half the butter), coconut and raisin and some oats to cut down on the amount of flour. I also added a carrot, grated up into small pieces.

It tasted pretty good. Not my favourite kind of cake (I think it’s the carrot, I don’t like carrot cake either) but it was still a perfectly reasonably tasting cake. It had risen well, the texture was good and the taste was just fine.

I’m now on the cusp of trying something else a little different.

We’re attending a ‘coffee and cake’ fundraising event for a cancer charity. It’s the second year in a row that my aunty’s friend has run it. Last year, I think I made a ginger cake.

(Ginger cake was one of my favourite discoveries when I branched out into new cake, followed by the chocolate cake.)

This year, for the coffee and cake event, I’m still trying to decide what to make. But the idea of being able to make anything is quite exciting. I don’t need to worry about who will eat it and I don’t need to make sure it’s something I love. It just has to taste and look good (two thing I very rarely get wrong – the only time I’ve had a cake not rise at all was when I used an Asda olive oil style spread, which was actually about 80% water, big mistake).

We’re considering making two different types of cake. My mum would like one like this weekend’s carroty, oaty, fruity cake. I wonder if we could have a go at courgette cake before Sunday, because that would be a different type of cake to take with us.

Apparently courgette cake isn’t as savoury as it may sound.

On the other side, away from the healthy cakes, I was very enthusiastic about making a Red Velvet cake. It’s red and creamy, which sounds great to me. Except that the recipe calls for either sour cream or cream cheese, two things I don’t like the sound of.

So instead of Red Velvet, I’m going to go for my specialty – the chocolate cake I mentioned earlier.

That’s not adventurous, I know.

But turning it red, is.

That’s right, I’m going to make a red chocolate cake.

I won’t be using red food colouring. Instead, I’m currently roasting a beetroot in the oven. Then I’ll blend it with some orange juice (the recipe called for lemon juice but I don’t have any) and add the puree to the cake.

Red chocolate cake is only a mix and a bake away! I can’t wait.


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