Thursday, 27 March 2014

81. A Recipe for a Pink Strawberry Cake

for Ianthe & Sophie, whose birthday cakes it was

Dear children, this was your birthday cake
– the pink ones with strawberries on
but I’ll miss those off now I’m afraid
as they really do turn into an ungrateful ooze
unstable, disordered & mankily slimy
so here is what you’ll need
- something particular:
           175 g self-raising flour
               + a little more for prepping the tin
           175 g butter (not hard!
                 - take it out of the fridge
                 ages before you cook
               + a little more for prepping the tin
           175 g caster sugar
           3 medium eggs
           250 g fresh-picked strawberries
           pinch of salt
           couple of tablespoons good apricot jam
           a little lemon juice
           250 g icing sugar
           – not at all heterogeneous & all quite luscious

Now wipe with butter the inside of a cake tin
spoon a little flour into it, coat all the butter
& empty out the rest; then the oven must turn on at mark 5/190º/170º
before taking a big bowl, cream together the caster sugar
with all your butter cut into small pieces, which means
mashing them all together with a fork heroically
until they reach a bright light yellow fluff
like golden mashed potato – next
squash 150g strawberries in a little bowl
– again, mash ‘em up fiercely with a fork
next eggs must be separated, yolk from white
break each in a little shallow bowl
hold back with a fork the yolk &
tip the whites into another bowl (medium-sized, say
then add the yolk to the yellow fluffy, one at a time
beating them in well with your beating fork
next sift your flour with the salt into another medium bowl
& whisk up in their bowl the egg whites
with fork or better a whisk until they rise
like little mountains, the soft becoming stiffish
fold the flour & the strawberry mush into the yellow mix
carefully using a big metal spoon in a, yes, folding sort of action
to mix without any rough or sudden beating – gently! – and
when that’s all one, fold in next the shining white mountains
turn out (that means spoon it out!) your beautiful pink cake mix
into the empty tin & pop it in the oven with care
let it cook for 40 minutes at least – a little more if two
check by putting in a skewer so it comes out clean
without any sticky uncooked dough upon it when ready
take it out of the oven with heavy gloves
& let it cool a little before then
you turn it when you can handle it onto a wire rack
using a palette knife to ease it from the edges first
and let it cool completely, like some marble obelisk

Finally the topping: in a very little saucepan
heat up the jam with a tablespoon of water & the lemon juice
let it just simmer for about five minutes & then
with great care brush this burning hot liquid (not
any apricot pieces!) across the cake’s top to glaze it
- to stop the icing getting caught up with crumbs
let it cool while you make the icing next
first juicily squeeze 100 g strawberries into a jug
mashing them hard in a sieve with a spoon
next get a medium sized bowl & set it in
a larger pan or bowl of quite warm water
sift your icing sugar into this medium bowl
carefully add a little of the beautiful clear red ooze
beat it in using a wooden spoon
and slowly add more in little bits until it’s just right
when the icing coats thickly the back of the spoon
without all running off and shows too a lovely gloss
then spoon it & carefully let it flow as you cover
never mind when it flows down the sides!
leave it for several hours to begin to set
then eat your cake – shared please with all your friends
sharing food is the true origin of all friendship, dear girls
& of all good ways of living
never forget that, but be grateful

[I adapted the recipe from a specialist baking book, Cordon Bleu Baking 1: Breads, Cakes & Biscuits (CBC/B.P.C. Publishing Ltd, 1971), but have used a very simplified & perfectly adequate glacé icing recipe from a sound basic cookery text, Bee Nilsson’s The Penguin Cookery Course (Penguin, 1952). The cake is delightful: not too sweet, with an interesting texture from the crushed strawberry, & the icing tastily sweet. Old cakes are best – and new poems! No one need feel guilty eating it, and though it really isn’t strictly child’s play, a lot can be done by young children with support & care. Let them help to create this feast!]

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