Cakes and cup cakes

Unsurprisingly, the arrival of the hens more than two years ago resulted in a significant increase in egg availability. Having convinced myself that it is in fact ok to eat eggs every day (not that we actually do), I was faced with deciding how best to use them. Clearly they can be scrambled, fried, poached and boiled and we do have them for lunch in one of these forms on many days, but they are also a brilliant ingredient and good source of protein in a meal… as omelette or Spanish tortilla and occasionally quiche. But one of the things that I do more now than ever before in my life is baking.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake – too fiddly to make every day!

Mr Snail-of-happiness has a very sweet tooth and is delighted to have cakes and cookies available most days. In a fit of exuberance ( and bibliophily) I bought several new books on baking, including two of the Hummingbird Bakery books, and set about testing out a variety of recipes. Somehow I got caught up in the moment and for several months made lots of cup cakes* and other fancy creations. Whilst these are enjoyable to make, they don’t necessarily deliver in terms of using up eggs – just one egg for ten cup cakes. So, recently I have returned to the cake recipe I learned as a small child and which never lets me down. It’s easy to remember because you use equal weights of margarine, sugar, egg and self-raising flour (approximately 50g of each ingredient per egg). You don’t even need scales to measure the ingredients – just a crude balance, with the eggs on one side and the flour, margarine and sugar in turn on the other. I once made such a cake with a whole load of students on a botany field trip to the Burren in Ireland… they were fascinated by the simplicity of the recipe and by the fact that we were able to build our own balance with two bowls, a plank and a log. On reflection, I think I taught them more about cooking on that field trip than about botany, although we did combine the two by learning the names of the various plant families in relation to each of the vegetables and fruits we were cooking!

Anyway, I digress… the cake is very versatile – add some cocoa powder and it’s a chocolate cake, or make it more interesting with lemon zest, orange, caramel flavour… whatever you fancy. You can fill it with whipped cream and jam for a decadent Victoria sponge, lemon curd or butter cream to recreate childhood teatimes! Mr S-o-h’s favourites are chocolate peppermint sponge or chocolate orange sponge (in both cases chocolate cake, a chocolate topping and chocolate-butter cream with either peppermint oil or orange essence added).I, on the other hand, am particularly fond of the lemon option… with lemon curd and lemon butter cream and topped off with a sprinkling of icing sugar!

So, whilst I will continue to try out occasional recipes from my fancy books… the old standard will still be wheeled out and enjoyed on a regular basis.


* My sister provided me with a good explanation of the difference between a cup cake and a fairy cake: a fairy cake has lots of cake and a little butter cream, whilst a cup cake has lots of butter cream with just a little cake.

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