Blackberry, marzipan and orange cake

I know, I know – I’m late to this party.  The excuse for my tardiness lies somewhere between being on holiday for most of last week, unthinkingly baking a giant chocolate cake just before the first episode aired (couldn’t bake another cake straight away, could I?) and a general scepticism about whether I’d want to get on the Bake Off Bandwagon at all this year.

I’ll admit that along with the rest of the nation, I was unsure about the move to Channel 4.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that just as the dust had settled and we’d all started to make peace with a Mel, Sue and Mary-less GBBO, somebody or other important at Channel 4 trailed the new series with a doom-laden reference to giving the show a “Channel 4 edge”.  If you’ve ever seen Channel 4 offerings like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, you too would be concerned as to what on earth this “edge” might be.

Turns out it’s mainly just the presence of Noel Fielding.  And not really knowing who he was but being slightly put off by his hair (sorry) I have to admit I think he makes a pretty nice host – friendly and goofy rather than obnoxiously edgy.  Plus he is charmingly offset by the British institution that is Sandi Toksvig, so we can all calm down and enjoy another helping of basically-the-same-old-GBBO.  So I’ve decided (belatedly) to bake along!

Initial thoughts aside, it’s (well, was… see above) cake week.  The signature challenge was a cake with fruit in it.  I decided to adapt a beautiful orange and marzipan cake I’ve made before to include more blackberries and a little less orange. I had lovingly collected a heap of them at the cost of scratched shins, nettle stings and purple-stained fingertips, so they needed a home.

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Ingredients

For the cake

  • 175g (6oz) butter
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice of one large orange (reserve 2 tbsp for the icing)
  • 140g blackberries
  • 250g (8oz) white marzipan, fairly finely chopped

For the icing

  • 100g (3½ oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Directions

  • Set the oven to 180°C (160 fan) and line a square or rectangular tin with grease proof paper.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a handheld mixer.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoon of the flour each time, then beat in the orange juice (reserving two tablespoons for the icing) and zest.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour and half the marzipan pieces.
  • Sprinkle a handful of blackberries onto the bottom of the tin, then spread about a third of the mixture on top.  Sprinkle in about a third of the remaining berries, and about a third of the remaining marzipan.  Add half of the remaining mixture on top.  Repeat – add the rest of the marzipan and blackberries (expect a handful) then spread the rest of the mixture on top.  Sprinkle the handful of blackberries evenly over the surface.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool slightly before removing from the tin to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, mix the two tablespoons of orange juice with the icing sugar to reach a consistency with a good dribble.
  • Once the cake is cool, slice into 16 squares before drizzling the slices with the orange icing – leave to set.

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Recipe adapted from goodtoknow.co.uk; all other content and photographs are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2017.

Carrot Cake on the Underground

Twice this week, I’ve found myself on packed commuter trains clutching a gigantic Tupperware box containing varying amounts of carrot cake. On Thursday, the cake was complete in all of its cream- cheese frosted glory. Children gazed longingly up at it, adults looked quizzically down at it. The guy giving out the free Metro newspaper asked wryly if it was for him. At one point a very friendly man asked if I’d like to put it in the overhead luggage rack. I tried hard to hide my horror, fending off the visions of the cake splattering onto the train floor as I politely declined, preferring to clutch the box protectively to my chest. When I arrived at work and complained about my aching arms, serious discussion ensued about how I could transport cakes to the office more efficiently in future: Tupperware on wheels, a Tupperware rucksack, and a Tupperware headdress were all suggested.

On Friday, I brought about a quarter of the carrot cake home. Again, everybody stared. Less admiration this time, more confusion. And as my friend pointed out, I looked like I’d taken a very indulgent packed lunch to work, and hadn’t quite managed to finish it. But personally, I think more people need to open-carry cake on the Underground. People love it when unusual things happen ‘down there’: there’s even a Buzzfeed article dedicated to it (!) London work days very often seem to begin with something along the lines of ‘You’ll never guess what I saw on the Tube’ –  it gives us something to talk about. And to complain about, of course: ‘Who the hell takes a carrot cake in such a massive box on the Tube in rush hour?’

But all the staring (and honestly, people really did stare very intently) made me realise that we begin and end our days surrounded by complete strangers. And we sit, on the whole, in silence. But we must all be wondering about each other. We spend this limited amount of time glancing at each other, apologising to each other every time we bump elbows, getting annoyed at each other for not standing clear of the doors, and then as soon as the Tube stops we all pour out, and never see each other again. I find that strange, somehow. But maybe that’s just me.

In any case, back to cake. In case you too want to make a super- duper fabulous carrot cake for your colleagues and then get it to them using the mode of transport of your choice (no cars please, people, that will not brighten anyone’s day, or give anybody something to grumble about) then here’s the recipe that I used from Sally’s Baking Addiction… Super Moist Carrot Cake.

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I even won the ‘Stab Baker’ congratulations spoon. Yes, it’s meant to say ‘Star Baker’, ala The Great British Bake Off, but my friend struggled with the ‘R’ and this version is a lot funnier.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014