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Year of the Cake Part Twenty Nine: Boozy Birthday Cakes

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Nothing like a good hit of booze in your birthday cake, that’s what I say. I always say lots of things, in fact, that is only one of them. Other highlights of things I always say include ‘What?’, ‘We need tea’ and ‘Ooh I’ve got a recipe for that’. I made two boozy cakes last week, one long overdue and one bang on time. I think both were enjoyed equally though, and as mentioned before it’s part of the girls night tradition that your birthday should be made to last as long as possible.

One of these cakes was the second vegan margarine fail, as mentioned yesterday. It was a chocolate cake which uses ground almonds instead of flour, for a lovely dense, rich flavour and texture. The original recipe can be found in this book, 101 Cakes and Bakes, and it calls for butter. I only had the vegan margarine, and that took away from the pleasing heaviness and mousse-like texture of the cake. Not only that, but it helped to adhere the cake to the pan in such a way as to cause maximum kitchen anger and maximum cake tearing. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I had used a cake tin that was too small for the mix, so that when it rose it developed a lovely muffin top, which also stuck to the pan.

Once I had levered the cake out of the tin, it was a mess. Looked a little like a pudding that had been steamed in a wide but shallow bowl, then had stuck a bit on the way out, then had been lightly smashed with a hammer. This was bad news. I hadn’t planned on sandwiching the cake, and didn’t think it was really big enough anyway, even before the tearing and the breaking and the gnashing of teeth. Looking at this picture now, I can see that it was, though I’m glad I didn’t as it ended up tasting pretty good. So anyway, in an effort to redeem the cake, I decided that my old friend chocolate buttercream would help me to even it up a bit, but first I wanted to make a boozy raspberry drizzle to go over the sponge. I did this by putting 100g of frozen raspberries into a pot with two capfuls of cherry brandy and I think two teaspoons of jam sugar. It’s all a bit of a broken-cake-haze. I let it simmer, stirring and pressing the raspberries to break them up, until the fruit was all reduced to liquid. I strained this liquid into a jug, to get rid of the raspberry seeds, and then poured over the top of the cake, which I had liberally run through with a metal skewer. The drizzling sauce was thick enough to also spread over the sides and top of the cake as a glaze, so I did that, too. Then I whipped up a chocolate buttercream from an amount of butter, double the amount of sugar and half a bar of plain chocolate, melted. I’ve given better chocolate buttercream recipes in my time, haven’t I? I smoothed the buttercream on, trying not to get raspberry glaze mixed in with it – this might have been easier if I’d let it cool a bit, but I had a whole other cake to make and didn’t want to be up half the night and covered in flour, in the usual manner.

Once the buttercream was on, I still wasn’t totally happy. I decided to marble the surface with some melted white chocolate – cue much spooning out of chocolate, swirling, re-swirling and attempts at anti-swirling. It was OK, but nothing that some chocolate shavings wouldn’t improve, I thought. I’d like to say now, if there are any readers of a nervous disposition then they should relax in the knowledge that this was the last addition to the cake. If anyone has any kind of chocolate allergy, they probably shouldn’t look too long at any of the pictures, just to be on the safe side. Here’s the finished result. The sponge was better than I had feared (do I hear you say ‘of course’? Then belt up before I give you the evil death glare, which mainly consists of eyebrows. If that doesn’t work I’ll get my mum to do it instead, she invented it). It was moist from the chocolate and the raspberry glaze, and while the chocolate buttercream was sweet I had tempered it with a little salt, and the bitterness of the raspberries helped to balance it out, too. I think my favourite part was the white chocolate on top, which had set to a nice crunch and gave some nice contrasting texture.

The other cake in this post was the only one I made last week that came out almost exactly as I’d planned it. I made banana and (hint of) whisky cake for Miss K, who had so enjoyed the banana and whisky cupcakes I made during Cupcake Week. This time I think a bit more whisky would have worked out well, but not to worry. I followed this recipe, using three bananas and adding 2.5 tbsp of whiskey. I used vegan margarine in the place of the softened butter, and for a miracle it worked out perfectly. I omitted the cinnamon this time, as I was adding booze and caramel and didn’t want to add too many flavours. This recipe gave a nine-inch cake which was easily big enough to split, though I settled for drizzling it with the dairy-free caramel sauce that was the result of me mixing all the failed or unused icings from the Cupcake Week post into one bowl, and freezing until I was ready to use it. Economical, eh? The sauce was the only part I wasn’t too happy with, as it was thinner than I’d hoped and as such left the cake with a sad bald spot in the middle. I covered this up with walnut halves – a walnut toupee, if you will. I would not recommend this method to anyone who may be losing their hair, I think it will only draw attention to the problem in your case. There was nothing wrong with the flavour of the caramel though, despite its thin-ness; it went really well with the cake. I attacked the sponge with another metal skewer before covering with the sauce, but I’m not sure how much flavour filtered through that way. It was too thin to be a glaze, but too thick to be a drizzle. Neither nowt nor summat. Half chips, half rice. All dressed up and no place to go. No, wait, not that last one.

Here is a picture of the inside of the banana cake to round off the post, and to make Miss K happy as it will all have been eaten by now, and she will therefore be mourning its loss.

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About Rock Salt

Seasoning while rocking out since 1983.

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