Another guest post. I was going to save this one for when we were away (not long now, cannot wait, am frothing with anticipation for Italy is the land of wine, bread and cheese, the holy trinity of happiness) but I’ve got a couple stored up now and maybe one other guest post (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) so figure would give this one an airing.
It’s by J who I actually do know in real life, and who is so smart that sometimes* I don’t understand what she says.
*most of the time.
The cake is very pretty and you should make it.
J wrote this/baked this a week or so ago when things were hot in London. Obviously now they’re cold and rainy again.
So here in London town over the last weekend, we had what you’d probably cheerfully describe as a scorcher, if you don’t count the mysterious 20 minutes where the atmosphere completely lost its shit over the collective sound of 8 million people creaking open the barbecue lid and asking each other what they’d done with the bloody firelighters you lit it last time where are they what the hell did you put them in that cupboard for you imbecile, and decided to chuck Lake Tahoe through a sieve over most of the city.
In other words, it was beautifully sunny apart from a thunderstorm. I assume. I don’t actually know. My reaction to hot weather follows a well-worn pattern – staple-gun the curtains closed, switch the TV on, start up a constant low-level whinging about how hot it is and exactly how I feel about that, and irrationally bake the first thing I see.
I’m Jules and I would happily destroy the sun.
But enough of my Bond villain fantasies – luckily the first thing I saw on TV was a rather tasty cake, and B, being the generous and amazing soul she is, has allowed me to share my average baking experience with you guys. Also, she’s not allowed to eat cake right now. I wish I had her willpower, and her beautiful doe-eyed whippet. Alas I have cankles and a psychotic cat.
But I do have cake, baked by one of those pretty lady sorts you see having lifestyles on TV cookery programmes, who was wrong about many, many things. Here she is being wrong about how posh tea should be allowed to be, which is not so posh it’s served to you by a woman in a three-piece suit.
She called the cake Crouching Tiger Hidden Giraffe cake, which is also wrong, on grounds of extreme tweeness being the cause of all that is foul and awry in this goddamn country. I have called it Striped Cake. It’s utilitarian, like IKEA, where it would be called STRUPTALAGCUKKEN. And you will need this. The scratchcards are non-essential but might make me rich. Italy is hiding the squalor of my kitchen. I apologise for both.
475g self-raising flour, but not all at the same time
250ml vegetable oil
250g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder TWICE
zest of half an orange (if you want)
Oven on: 180 degrees in new money.
So, to make a Striped Cake, you will need two contrasting cake batters, or the stripes will be invisible and no-one will know of your striping genius. TV Lady suggests you make a load of base mix and then split it in two before you add your final flours. This is wrong, unless you have her unending supply of identical TV crockery or a Robocop-style HUD that can accurately analyse cake mix volumes by sight. I have neither of these things. I have a one bowl and a load of unused shoes. So in your bowl and one of your shoes, mix together two batches of base cake-slop out of 125ml veg oil, 125g sugar, 50ml milk, 2 eggs and 87.5g of flour. I will let you round that last number up a bit, as you’re such good boys and girls. No need to sieve or cream – just whip the living heck of out it all till you’ve got something the consistency of pathetic, wan, watery custard with no lumps and no hope.
Here is the TV Lady splitting her mixture into her identical crockery, wrongly. You won’t need to cos you made it in two separate batches in the first place.
Now, this cake is all ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony, so you want to make one mix chocolatey yum and one vanilla-y nom. So to one batch, add 175g flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and some vanilla extract – like, a shake and a bit? Whatever – and to the other batch, add 25g cocoa and 125g flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and the orange zest if you can be arsed. I did and I couldn’t taste it, but I haven’t got a good zester, so basically just had to try and verbally persuade the orange skin to jump into the mix of its own accord. YMMV. Blend your flours into your batters seperately, one with each hand at the same time, like you’re Johnny Five. Or maybe Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
So now you’ve got two contrasting mixes. Happy days. Here comes the boring bit. TV Lady would have you get the mix into piping bags and assemble the cake that way:
This is wrong, unless you like spreading batter all over your hands, arms, the kitchen counter and any pets that get in the way, and ending up crying with two half-empty bags sagging like terrible botched implants in your impotent fists. I hate piping bags with a furious passion. Use spoons. Spoons are easy.
Grab yourself a cake tin, 20 inches. Line with greaseproof paper and butter. Then spoon into the centre of the tin some vanilla mix, about the size of an Olympic gold medal. Then into the centre of that medal splodge, spoon in about the same amount of chocolate mix. This will make the vanilla mix expand like a flower to accept the pressing chocolate goodness. Ahem. Like this:
Now do this again and again, 100,000 times. Lose the will to live. Eat half the cake batter raw. Feel like an epic hyper-evolved being on the subsequent sugar rush. Try not to barf. (Don’t do this step if you’re bun-ovening. Mazel tov!)
You will end up with this – which is actually my cake!
Shove in oven for 35 mins. Remove. Cool. Cut into. Admire the beautiful stripes. Consume in a frenzy while watching Breaking Bad, because it’s AMAZING. That’s it!