Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cocktail party

OK, so it's more cake really. But cocktail themed cake! For my last Harmummies (boo!) I was on cake duty, and felt like going to town. It's five o'clock somewhere, right?

Cake 1: Gin and Tonic (alcoholic)

Hilariously I found this recipe on a blog called "days out with the kids". However, this particular version seems to have originated with Pudding Lane blog and was featured in the London Metro just yesterday. Harmummies, cutting edge as ever.

The recipe is a 4-egg sponge (4 large eggs plus their weight in each of self raising flour, butter and caster sugar), with the cheeky addition of four (FOUR) shots of mother's ruin, the zest of two lemons and the juice of one. I don't think it really matters how you make the sponge (creaming method or all in one) as it gets a bit sloppy with the extra liquid anyway. I like to cream the zest in with the butter and sugar so it is well distributed.
Zest note: since I bought a microplane grater I do loads more citrusy cakes. It's so much easier. But if you have to do it on a punched-hole grater, know that pressing chilled butter on to the surface gets all the lovely zest off without lacerating yourself.
The cake baked for around an hour at 170°C (fan oven) in a lined 1kg loaf tin. (Handy tip - a 1kg tin holds about 1.5L of water, if you're not sure what you have.) It was a BIG cake and filled the tin when cooked (checked by the skewer test). It made 12 generous slices!

While the cake bakes, mix together the juice of the other lemon, four more shots of gin, a splash of tonic (careful now) and 150g granulated sugar. Do the usual lemon drizzle thing of letting the baked cake cool a weeny bit then pricking the top and drizzling the liquid over to soak in and leave a sugary crust behind.

Because I can't leave anything alone, I also candied a third lemon to decorate the top: bring 150g caster sugar and 175ml water (ish...) to a simmer. Add a thinly sliced lemon. Simmer for 5-10 mins or until the pith is going translucent. Keep the resulting lemony syrup for, er, cocktails I guess ;)

Cake 2: Pina colada traybake (non-acoholic, dairy free (cake only))

This was inspired by a gift of pina colada curd. I said this was alcohol free, and inadvertently lied, not realising that said curd contains coconut liqueur. I'm not aware it was a problem for anyone this time, but it's a lesson to check carefully! It is indeed dairy free, excluding the topping.

The cake was a fat-free pineapple sponge. This uses a large tin of pineapple in juice, blended, to add moisture - it certainly did, and even using less pineapple than stated the batter was extremely liquid. It may be because I used a tin of cheap (well, Waitrose essentials ;) pineapple which was more juice than fruit, so I'd say try something nicer next time and even consider losing some juice. I also cut the sugar down from a whopping 400g (!) to 250g and it was fine.

Sieve 250g plain flour with 2 tsp bicarb and mix in 250g caster sugar. Beat 2 large eggs with a teaspoon of vanilla. Blitz a large tin (~450g total weight) of pineapple in juice until fairly smooth. Mix everything together just until all the dry flour has gone, pour into a lined tin, and bake immediately* (170°C fan) for about 45-55 minutes until it passes the skewer test. The recipe says a 20 x 30 cm tin, I used 20 x 20 cm without a problem except I had to bake it longer.

*Actually, I didn't bake immediately, but blobbed in teaspoonfuls of the curd. I hoped it would kind of remain suspended in the cake as it baked, but it sank. Still tasted good, but I think that particular idea would be better with a normal sponge mix to be honest.

Unwrap the cake before it gets cold (but after it has firmed up a bit) as greaseproof paper will stick to this like anything. This edition was a very moist, pudding-y texture, which was not quite what I expected but worked well enough with the topping.

For the topping I mixed about 175g of mascarpone plus the creamiest few spoonfuls from the top of a small tin of coconut cream (do not shake it!!) and icing sugar to taste, then desiccated coconut on top. I am rubbish with coconut cream/creamed coconut and I should have got the latter (firmer) as my topping was a bit gooey.

Cake 3: Margarita whoopie pies (alcohol free)

See? More citrus.

I used a Dr Oetker recipe for the cakes, subbing plain yogurt for the buttermilk they used, and adding the zest of a lime. So that's 125g caster sugar and the lime zest creamed with 200g soft butter and a large egg, then sifted plain flour (450g) and bicarb (1/4 tsp) mixed in gradually, plus enough yogurt to make a stiff but smooth batter. I suspect it needs to be stiff  in order to not spread too much when baked freeform. The resulting texture was a bit scone-like.

The recipe says to portion out the mix with a 2" ice cream scoop, but I just eyeballed it (well, they were probably more ping pong ball size than eyeball, flattened and then smoothed with wet fingers). The mix made 18 or 20 cakes. They baked at 180°C (fan) for about 15 minutes but were slow to get any colour. Maybe due to the low sugar content? I might milk-wash them next time.

Once cool, these were drizzled with lime icing (icing sugar and lime juice plus a dot of green colouring, to a firm but pipe-able consistency - start very sparingly with the juice as you don't need much at all). They were then given a touch of salt before the icing dried, and sandwiched together with lime buttercream (75 butter, 175g sifted icing sugar, zest of a lime, pinch of salt).

Not for one second are these delicate cakes. They are like the galumphing great country cousins of dainty Parisian macarons. But, hey, they all disappeared :)

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