Sunday, 23 August 2009

Party Party




As I said, I dropped and broke our camera, so I have been experimenting with my phone camera, and it seems to be reasonably good, so here is a picture of a cake I made for a family party the other day. In case it's not obvious, it's a drum kit, the birthday boy in question being a drummer of great distinction and promise, (good luck at Uni, Lee). I was quite pleased with how it turned out, though there is a degree of "sag" that I did not forsee. I used an ordinary victoria sponge cake and vanilla buttercream for the cake and fondant for the icing. The "sag" effect could have been avoided by the use of rich fruit cake, but most people seem to prefer sponge these days, except for Christmas. Black fondant isn't all that easy to come by in darkest Wiltshire, so I had to send away for a supply of that, - special stuff like that is much easier to find these days, God Bless the Internet. I used the Blue Ribbons Sugarcraft Centre and would highly recommend them for quick and helpful service http://www.blueribbons.co.uk/
And if you live in London there's a great shop called Party Party near Dalston market that my daughter took me to, that sells everything you could need for parties and has a whole floor dedicated to cake decorating. It's just past the Multi-Coloured Wig shop, and the stall selling Giant African snails (alive!!) but not as far as the trendy cafe full of media types with laptops and capuccinos. London is such a treat for country bumpkins like me!

I must have made millions (well not millions, but quite a lot) of cakes over the years, and I always come back to the good old all in one victoria sponge cake, made in a food processor. It really does make the best sponge cake in my opinion. It's couldn't be easier to make, is quick, and endlessly versatile. My recipe is pretty much the standard one (though I have adopted Nigella's suggestion of an ounce of cornflour in the mix) and I do tend to have a bit of stock syrup* around the place these days, (being a beekeeper) which is useful for all sorts of things including brushing over the cake as it comes out of the oven, and ensuring a soft moist cake, even on those occasions when you know you've left it in the oven five minutes too long, and have aquired HCS (Hard Crust Syndrome)

4 eggs
1 pack of butter at room temperature
8 ounces of self raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon of cornflour
8 ounces of caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
about 2 tablespoons milk

Put everything in food processor and switch on till blended. That's it. You might want to mix it without the milk first and then add as much milk as you think you need to get a soft, smooth, but not too runny mixture. Depends on the size of your eggs really.


Cook in two 8 inch sandwich tins, a large loaf tin, lots of little bun cases for butterfly cakes, a roasting tin for cutting into initials or numbers, or whatever you fancy. I cook the 2 sandwich tins on the bottom shelf of the roasting oven of the Aga with the cold shelf on top for about 30 minutes, which is probably about a Gas 4 but only you know your oven. The cake should be a pale golden brown, and springy to the touch, and slightly shrinking away from the sides of the tin when it's done. What you really want to avoid is cooking too fast and over-browning, leading to the dreaded HCS, and dryness. Now, where is that jar of syrup....
*Stock syrup - Dissolve a pound of sugar in a pint of water, or a kilo in a litre, gives you a medium syrup useful as an emergency feed for bees, or cakes.

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