(or how to achieve a positive outcome when the baking odds are stacked against you).
Hello everybody. I’m Beth. I’m Kate’s little sister. You may recognise me from previous blog posts such as Eggs-ellent Simnel Cake and the classic Happy Birthday fairy cakes . However, I asked Big Sis if I could write this myself because I recently had a traumatic baking experience and feel I need to purge my cake demons by writing about it. If making fairy cakes is the baking equivalent of a jog around the park, this was a marathon.
I visited Kate a couple of weekends ago and I noticed Kate had the new Edd Kimber cookbook. First off, lovely book, and I must clarify I have nothing against this book despite the pain this recipe caused me. Infact, Kate loves it. I had a quick flick through and thought his Raspberry Ripple Cake looked stunning. Perfect for an upcoming birthday I wanted to bake for. Cue taking a photo of the pages with my phone – error number one. This is what I had to work with when baking day came round:
Now, the best way I can describe the troubles I had with this cake is by giving you the recipe and then detailing my own traumatic experiences in italics
Raspberry Ripple Cake
(from Edd Kimber, The Boy Who Bakes)
335g Butter, plus extra for greasing
335g Plain Flour
3 Teaspooons Baking Powder
400g Caster Sugar
6 Eggs, Separated
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
185ml Whole Milk
80g Raspberry Jam, for coating the layers
White Chocolate Frosting:
80g White Chocolate
250g Granulated Sugar
5 Large Eggs Whites
450g Unsalted Butter
80g Raspberry Jam, Sieved
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven/gas mark 4 [no problem here, I know how to turn on the oven . Trouble is, it took it two and a half hours (!) to preheat. In 25C weather. Maybe I should have turned back at this point?] and lightly grease three [Ah. I only have two] 20cm round cake tins and line with baking parchment, then grease the parchment too.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer [Hello problems! I should explain I have just moved into a new flat. We have no electric mixer. Fine, I thought, a bit of whisking never hurt anybody. 40 minutes of whisking?...pretty sure that’s hurt somebody. Like me. I even tried
to use our hand held soup liquidiser thing which, for future reference, does not do the job of an electric whisk], beat the butter and 300g of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes [5 minutes? HA! I can laugh about this now.] Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Turn the mixer to low [I recreated this by moving the soup liquidiser in slow motion] and add a third of the flour mix followed by half the milk. Repeat and then add the final third of flor mixture.
[Just like to point out that by this point I had already been baking for an hour, and yet, it continues....]
3. Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk [Oh joy, yet more whisking!] until they form soft peaks [I had rolling hills, not peaks. My arm could not produce peaks]. Increase the speed [Gagh!!] and slowly add the sugar, whisking until they hold stiff and glossy peaks [nope...like many an adventurer before me, still searching for those peaks.]
4. Gradually fold in the egg mixture [I nearly cried with happiness when I read the word ‘fold’ – I never thought pain relief would come by way of ‘folding’] into the cake batter. Divide equally among the three [two] tins, level with a spatula and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean [or your kitchen cannot stand the heat anymore]. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. FROSTING: Melt the chocolate in a micowave [not got one of them, either] or a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering watering [hmm, saucepans all too big for pyrex bowl to fit on top. But necessity is the mother of invention, cue pyrex bowl, in steamer, on pan. Cue some weird burning smell coming from one of the above...]. Allow to cool. Put 160ml of water and the sugar into a pan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and have a sugar thermometer [A SUGAR WHAT?! A thermometer? For sugar? A sugar thermometer? As you can tell I’m not one for reading a recipe very carefully prior to baking. This was the day laziness came back to bite me in the...]. Meanwhile, put the egg whites into a clean bowl - this is best done using a freestanding electric mixer [A freestanding Beth mixer, you mean? A Bethaid , if you like?] and whisk on medium [Bethaid started to pack in about right about now....]. As the syrup reaches 115C [wait a second I’ll just grab my sugar thermo..oh. My well trained syrup-eye it’ll have to be then] start whisking the egg whites on high [bit quicker please, Bethaid].
6. Once the sugar reaches 121C [Otherwise known as “hope for the best”C] remove it from the heat and with the mixer still running [Don’t worry, I’m still running!], slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl, avoiding the whisk [Just so you can visualise, you have me, boiling away in a tiny steam-room-of-a-kitchen, 121C (fingers crossed) syrup in my left hand, slowly pouring it into the bowl, whilst my right hand is whisking away on high. In hindsight I think I should just be thankful I got out of this unscathed.] Continue whisking on high speed [what else?] until the meringue has cooled to room temperature [Cooled to room temperature? I’m in a sauna.]
6. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add the butter, until fully combined . Once the frosting is smooth and fluffy [you mean it wasn’t meant to look like scrambled eggs?] divide it into two bowls
7. To assemble the cake, put one layer on a plate or cake board spread with half the raspberry jam, then top with a third of the white chocolate frosting. Repeat with second cake layer, placing the final cake layer on top. [At this point I should tell you that my frostings were not great. The white chocolate flavour looked like a ready meal version of scrambled eggs. The raspberry flavour not much better. They both tasted great, but I blame the thermometer, or lack off, for their appearence. So excuse me if I don’t follow the next steps:] Spread the sides of the cake with the raspberry frosting. To create a swirl effect, spread the remaining white chocolate frosting across random sections of the cake. [Or, buy raspberries and use them to cover up the scrambled eggs underneath.]
Baker’s Notes (I may not be Kate, but this is still Kate’s blog – I have to respect the rules.)
- Time taken to make this cake? Four hours. I could have watched Titanic, and had time for a tea break before the iceburg hit. Slightly slightly regret not doing that instead...
- Lesson learnt? Read a recipe properly, preferably before starting to bake. And learn how to separate eggs so that I get a better success rate than 70% separation
- Kate, feel free to tag this under “Cake disasters”
- However, winging it must work- although it ended up looking, erm, very different from the book, most importantly of all, it tasted great. Lovely flavours and a very light sponge
- Final thought from me – Kate can keep her sweet tooth. I prefer savoury food anyway.