Friday, 8 June 2007

Battle of the Bakers

Yesterday a true competition began. One that makes MasterChef look like Blockbusters when it comes to pressure. A visit to my mother-in-law is usually very pleasant, but when the pots and pans start rattling, it sure does bring out the competitive edge in our Grace.

After an impromptu visit, we had our lunch and sat down to together. But tummies were still rumbling, and my wife asked if there were any cakes or biscuits. The answer was no. ‘Have you got any eggs, flour and butter Grace?’, I asked inquisitively. ‘I always have those ingredients in, why?’. The competition had already begun. My mother-in-law knew I was hinting at making a quick cake and it was on her ground. Not only had I mounted huge pressure on my shoulders, I also ran the risk of losing any reputation I have with her, especially since she is so fantastic at baking.

A dash into the kitchen to see what was around, I soon discovered a couple of lemons and some honey. ‘Lemon and honey cake anybody?’. Father-in-law grunted, said something about risking my own life then disappeared. So did my wife and child. All that was left was a very inquisitive and lingering presence on my shoulder at all times – the steely gaze and ever-mocking tones of our Grace.

‘This cake is easy Grace, what you do….’. I was cut off at each sentence, corrected and pushed aside. ‘I’m doing this cake Grace, did you forget?’. Little did she know I had never attempted this cake, I was blagging it. And off I went again with my hands shaking more and more as the minutes went by. ‘I use this brilliant technique where I weight 3 eggs in their shells, then add exactly the same weight in butter, flour and sugar. It is foolproof’. The look of disdain was enough to tell me that she anticipated a massive fall in my so-called cake baking skills. ‘A couple of lemons grated with the some of the juice, and honey to replace the sugar will make a fantastically sharp and sweet cake, I’m sure of it’. The biggest 'tut' filled the kitchen. Whatever David. In Grace’s eyes, the oven was too low a temperature, the cake would never rise, it would be uncooked in the middle and it would probably taste like an old sock.

After 40 minutes, the bell on the timer rang and the beads of nervous sweat began to run. As I opened the oven, I could feel a mocking mother-in-law waiting to pounce. The result was stunning. A victory on away soil. The cake had risen. It retained a bounce. The smell was heavenly. A quick syrup, made with the lemon juice and more honey, soaked the cake through. All that was left was a cooling, a turn out then the proof of the pudding in the taste. With a crisp and chewy exterior thanks to the drizzle, a beautifully moist and nectar filled interior, it was possibly the best cake I have ever made. I cannot even begin to explain the humbling look of defeat on my mother-in-law’s face. Victory was sweet and I had snatched the crown. That is, until the 2nd leg commences in the coming weeks. As the current Yorkshire pudding champion, I anticipate war on my own turf. Watch this space, it can get messy…

PS I have no image of the cake as all evidence was snaffled by the family and I didn't have my camera. You are going to have to just imagine....

Lemon and Honey Cake

3 large eggs
Self raising flour
Butter or margarine
2 lemons

1 – Pre-heat the oven to GM4, 180 degrees C and butter and line a 22cm cake tin, preferably with a removable base.
2 – Weigh the eggs in their shells. Then weigh out exactly the same weight in flour, butter and honey respectively (or sugar if you prefer). Cream the honey and butter or margarine together in a bowl until pale and creamy.
3 – Beat in the eggs one by one until combined, don’t worry if it looks curdled. The sift in the flour, grate in the zest, add the juice of one lemon and fold together until thoroughly combined.
4 – Pour into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 35-45 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the top starts to catch, place some foil loosely over the tin.
5 – Remove from the oven. Make a quick syrup using the juice of the lemon and a few tablespoons of honey. Prick the cake all the way through several times with something like a knitting needle (that is what I used, Grace has hundreds!) and pour the syrup slowly over the cake. Allow to cool then turn out and serve generously. Look out for jealous faces….


Hannah said...

Battle of the Bakers eh - that sounds like a challenge I should take part in!!! Only joking

This looks like a stunning recipe!

Coffee & Vanilla said...


Sounds good... :)
By the way, I finally posted Food Facts.... (!)

Enjoy your weekend,