Well, it's been a bit of time since I last had a successful cake. The last one was a flop really. It didn't get finished. But, as they say, when you fall off the horse, you get back on. So, we drew another prospective cake tonight...and it's Marble Cake on page 138 from the book Close Up on Cakes.
The first thing I did was read through the recipe, and make sure I had the correct pan to use; and I do.
That said, let's move into the recipe, shall we. Once again, text from the book will be in italics and my snarky comments will be in regular face type.
3/4 Cup (6 oz/185g) butter
1 1/2 Cups (12 oz/375g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (side note here, with all the baking going on, I ran out of Vanilla Extract. You see, I prefer to make my own. It's quite simple; Bottle of Vodka, and a whole mess 'o Vanilla beans (10 actually) of the best you can afford. Split the beans, and feed them into the Vodka. Close it up, and let sit for 6 weeks in a cool dark spot. Shake every week or so. So, I have some made up, the problem, it won't be ready for 6 weeks...so I broke down and bought some; darn!
2 Cups (8 oz/250g) self-rising flour See previous posts on how to make your own self-rising flour.
Pinch of salt
3/4 Cup (6floz/185ml) milk
1 drop Red food coloring
1 drop Red + 1 drop Blue food coloring, combined
1 drop Green food coloring
1 drop Red + 1 drop Yellow food coloring, combined
Okay, that screeching sound was my brakes. Sure this comes from the Fantasy section, but the only way I am using food coloring is in some delusional fantasy: Some quick and dirty research tells us Food Dyes, or Colorings aren't really that good for us, and may, note my use of the word May be dangerous for us. Some may have heard that Red #40 as it is known in some industries is pretty bad, but the one that caught my attention was Green (my favorite color) food coloring has been banned in most European Countries. If you have read my earlier posts, I try to stay as true to the recipe as possible. In my Coconut cake, Red food coloring was called for, to color the coconut a pinkish color for topping. I opted out of that with no real effects.
The quandary I'm in, is that this cake is supposed to be different colors. The colorings, don't impart any real flavors to the cake, they are just visual. So do I opt out, or try for natural colorings. Red (Beets or Strawberry (don't be so quick to judge now, almost assuredly, the sugar used in this recipe came and comes from beets, not cane)); Blue (Blueberry), Yellow (Turmeric) and Green (spinach or chlorophyll)
This sounds like a challenge....due to the visual nature of this cake (the marbling comes from the different colors, otherwise it would just be a play vanilla cake. Decision made, I'm going to use the Natural methods of coloring. Now back to the recipe:
1/2 Cup (4oz/125g) Butter
2 1/2 Cups (14oz/440g) confectioners sugar
Ribbon for Decorating
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180C/Gas 4.) Butter a 9x5 inch (23x12cm) loaf pan.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes.)
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and salt in 3 batches alternately with the milk, starting and finishing with the flour. I think they mean to combine the salt and flour, then alternate that mixture with the milk...at least that's the way I'll approach it.
Divide the batter into 5 equal portions. Leaving 1 portion uncolored, tint the remaining 4 portions ping, mauve, pale green and apricot.
Drop alternating spoonfuls of each portion in the prepared pan until all the mixture is used. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Icing: Beat the butter until smooth, about 2 - 3 minutes. Add the sugar 1/3 C (3oz/90g) at a time, mixing until smooth. If the icing is too soft to use, refrigerate until firm, about 10 - 15 minutes. When cake is cool, cover with the icing and tie decoratively with the ribbon.
Okay, I don't think I'll be tying any ribbon on my cake unless it's a Fondant ribbon. I like to keep my cakes edible, and it appears that the ribbon is not part of the flavor profile, so I feel justified in removing it.
So, after the last fiasco, I have read over this recipe 3 - 4 times, trying to find holes, and it looks pretty straight forward. Lift will come from the self rising flour, and the batter will be sufficiently dry to allow for a nice moist texture. We shall see, as the proof is in the baking.
Now, this might take some time, so I plan to work on this for two days. Tomorrow I will work on the natural food colorings, and will definitely report on that. And Tuesday bake and ice the cake.
What, I almost went and published this without my music selection! Oh the horrors!
So going with the whole antithesis of stuff the government allows, but really isn't good for you; I'm choosing a group that many felt were a danger to a young persons morals, but in turn, put out ton's of great music. Queen. In 1978, We Are the Champions came out on 45, and the flip side Or B-Side was We Will Rock you, which for my money was the far better song. I will probably be able to bake away both days, listening to nothing but Freddie Mercury and Queen.
Life should have it's fun moments, let baking be one of those for you.
Happy Baking all.