The beauty of cake was first enjoyed by the Ancient Egyptians, more in the form of a sweetened bread. But the invention of refined sugar and advances in oven technology, enabled the high courts of mid-17th century Europe to develop sweet spongy creations with sticky icing drizzled on top.
Cake in modern society has many associations ranging from celebrations (the Diamond Jubilee), special occasions (the classic birthday cake or the romantic tiered wedding cake), all the way through to an afternoon ritual (tea & cake) and pure comfort (your grandma’s lemon drizzle sponge). No other food unites a nation in such ways, for when baking a cake we are anticipating the social act of sharing it. With this in mind, and three social events [including a very special man’s 21st] to attend in which we were encouraged to bring food, I turned to this old classic and its varying flavors. So in the words of the great Marie Antoinette
“Let them eat cake…”
From the River Cafe Cookbook
Yield: Serves 12
– 450g unsalted butter, softened
– 450g caster sugar
– 450g ground almonds
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 6 eggs
– Zest of 5 lemons
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 225g polenta
– 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder (if you want a gluten free cake)
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
1) Preheat the oven to 150C/300F. Grease a 30cm tin well.
2) Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and continue to beat until combined.
3) Beat in the eggs one by one.
4) Fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, polenta, baking powder and salt.
5) Pour into the tins and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
6 ounces (175g) self-raising flour
4 ounces (115g) caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
2 tbspns vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
125g strawberry yoghurt
6 large chopped strawberries
9 small strawberries (cut into thin slices)
Butter icing made with vanilla extract and strawberry juice
1) Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 5 and line a muffin tin with 9 paper cases.
2) Put all of the ingredients except the strawberries and icing into a mixing bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon, until the ingredients are JUST amalgamated. Add the 6 chopped strawberries and gently mix through batter.
3) Take a spoonful of the cake mixture into each paper case.
4) Bake the cakes in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown and firm.
5) Take the cakes out of the tin and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
6) When the cakes are cook, spoon or spread some icing over them and then arranged the 9 sliced strawberries on top.
(Taken from lavenderandlovage‘s recipe, although I tweaked the icing so I could try out my mummy’s new piping bag kit!)