Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Summertime Cake


The title of this post should really read experimental summertime cake.
It was experimental for a few reasons;
a) Gluten-free flour was used in a standard recipe, although using Doves Farm Self Raising has worked well in the past;
b) We have just moved house, to a house with a lovely new kitchen complete with a fan oven. My only use of a fan oven was at school for part of either GCSE or A-Level Home Economics. We were experimenting with different sugars (Sugar subsitute Canderel, Fructose and normal sugar) and their reactions in a standard fairy cake recipe. Everything was prepared and cooked in the same way, but my left over mixture went into bun cases in the teacher's fan oven. The result was black-crusted buns, with runny centres. Not the greatest influence a fan oven could have had on me! The rest of the experiment went well - in the normal oven!
c) It was a large-ish recipe and I normally split the batter into two tins, but I thought I'd cook it altogether and slice it afterwards.

After various pieces of advice about how to cook with a fan oven, I thought I'd might as well give it a go. Some people said to reduce the temperature and cook as normal, and others said to cook for less time. I even referred to the oven manual, which did give some time and temperature indications for different things. But I couldn't decide if my normal victoria sandwich cake should be classes as Chocolate Cake or Risen Cake. Plus the manual indicated timings and temperature by weight, but there was no idication what the weight measurement actually was! So I thought, I'd go the for normal temperature, and keep an eye on it.
Plus my other frames of reference for most things basic yet culinary, the Leith's Techniques Bible or the Dairy Book of Home Cookery (were fan ovens around when that was written?) were packed away in a box somewhere waiting for the shelves to be put up.

Basic recipe:
150g Sugar
150g butter
3 eggs
150g self raising flour (sieved)

Filling:
Mascarpone
Double cream
Strawberries and blackberries

1. Cream the butter and sugar together.
2. Add the beaten eggs with a little of the flour, and beat in.
3. Stir in the remaining flour until combined.


Anyway, once made, the cake went in. And I kept an eye on it. It went in at around 180C, which is about Gas 4. I usually cook cakes for around 20 mins at Gas 4 so with the excellent oven timer (also new to us in this house). I then prodded it a bit, it seemed to be cooked, but then started to sag in the middle. So I put it back for a little longer - about 10 minutes more. After that time it seemed cooked, was a little more browned and the edges had become crumbley.

The cake was then cooled thoroughly and I attempted to slice it. It kind of worked, but the two pieces definitley were not even. But in my defense, since it sagged in the middle, the slicing would always be a little dodgy.
I filled it with the mixture of mascarpone, whipped cream, and summer fruits of strawberries and balckberries and the same on top. Admittedly these were all shop bought - we are hoping to go to a pick your own or foraging at some point soon.
The cake itself was rather dense and a little dry, almost like a shortcake texture. I don't think this was entirely down to the gluten-free flour, probably to do with the baking time and temperature. But the rich cream and sharp fruit balanced the dryness and made it feel it more like desert rather than cake. Lovely.

Thankfully now the cooking books have been unpacked and there will be more experimental baking until I get used to this oven.

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