(with a nod to Nigel Slater)
I do like to bake. It manages to lift my mood when nothing else can. I can’t get philosophical or metaphorical about why. It just does.
I have been baking for quite a while, even managing to knock something up in our badly equipped uni hall of residence kitchen many moons ago. I think I’m lucky that I have a family that love cakes and biscuits (although I think its probably a rare one that doesn’t).
Since moving house last March, we now have a bigger kitchen (in our old one, if you had the dishwasher open you would be trapped in there, and there was just enough built-in workspace to put a kettle) and this has helped enormously. It also means that both The Hub and I can be in the kitchen at the same time, and this has helped to ignite a love of baking in him.
We watched the latest series of The Great British Bake Off together, and drooled over the delights that the amateur bakers created. Then at Christmas my lovely sister bought me not only Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake , but also the book from the series, How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers , by Linda Collister, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
The Hub has taken it upon himself to become the bread expert. He baked his first batch of Christmas Buns with aplomb and can often now be found in the kitchen kneading and mixing (with the help of our latest gadget, our trusty K-Mix).
And so I found myself at home with Dino Girl today without Lego Boy and The Hub who had gone skiing.
The Hub had recently made a bet with a colleague over a piece of code he’d written (something to do with a zero point exception, or something similarly geeky) and as the loser has to make a cheesecake. He has settled on Marbled Lemon Squares from the Showstopper book, but as we don’t have, and find it difficult to get, ginger biscuits for the base I said I’d bake some whilst he was out (yes I realise this is overkill for a coding bet, but I think The Hub wishes to restore a little pride).
Of course, me being me, I can’t just bake one thing, so as we had some left over cooked beetroot in the fridge (from a trout, bean and beetroot salad from the night before) I decided to also bake a chocolate and beetroot cake.
On scouring the internet (well, I did a Google search) the general consensus seemed to be that Nigel Slater’s recipe from his Tender cookbook was the way to go. Helpfully someone had copied the recipe (its okay, I intend to buy the book) so I got to work with my trusty assistant, Dino Girl by my side.
There were several warnings about the amount of utensils and gadgets you will need. These should be heeded. I’m not sure how many bowls I used, but I used the food processor, the K-Mix to whisk the eggwhites, a bain marie, a whisk, a spatula and various spoons. Oh, and the coffee machine, as surprisingly (well, to me anyway), the recipe calls for hot espresso.
Into the oven it went, and surveying the kitchen, not for the first time in my life, I was grateful for the dishwasher.
So, after 40 minutes, out of the oven it came. It seemed rude to cut into it before the boys got home, but well, it was lunchtime and I’m pretty certain that a girl and a cake can’t co-exist in the same room.
It was……..delicious. Light and wobbly, wonderfully moist, chocolatey but not too much so, slight earthy tones of the beetroot. Okay I’ll stop. I sound like I’m pretentiously tasting wine, not eating a cake!
But I was pleased that even with 200g of dark chocolate, it wasn’t too chocolatey. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake. And I’m glad that I could taste the beetroot, albeit only slightly. I’m not a fan of hiding vegetables in things, even for the kids, so with this recipe I don’t feel like I’m tricking anyone (lentils in bolognese is a whole other story, however…).
Next time I’ll make it without the espresso, as I’m not sure it added anything to it, but I think this recipe is a keeper.
Of course, I still have to make the ginger biscuits for the cheesecake and the cottage pie for dinner, but well, I’m sure there’s time for just one more slice……