It's time for the Cake Slice Bakers reveal for April and I was determined to get my cake made despite my mobility problems. I did think perhaps I should re title this post "Baking with a Break" or maybe "Cooking on Crutches" because it is definitely a whole different experience to normal. The choices for April, taken from Maida Heatter's Cakes were a Haleakala Cake, which is a pineapple, coconut and marshmallow extravagance that I would love to make at some point but probably not sensible right now... An English Madeira cake which didn't seem like much of a challenge as nor did the Texan chocolate muffins*, both too similar to cakes that I already make. So that left the Blueberry Nut loaf cake, which sounded perfect.
(* have since made these and they were very good but may have to save that for another blog post)
A useful tip for any baker is to get all equipment out and ready along with all the necessary ingredients so they can be measured out and prepared before you start baking... This is especially true when working on crutches! The whole process took much longer than usual. It went something like this: After much tooing and froing all bowls and utensils were ready, crutches were put aside so both hands could be used to measure and mix, I then realised that I was missing a crucial piece of equipment so retrieved crutches from floor where they crashed down amidst some swearing from me (becoming a regular occurence), hobbled to other side of kitchen, found item, hobbled back trying to hold on to said item whilst also holding onto crutches, start process again only to find another item missing... have a lie down for ten minutes to summon up the energy to start again...you get the picture! I am finding that most things are possible just not terribly easy but I'm determined not to be beaten. I like to call it tenacity although others who know me would probably say it's sheer bloody mindedness!
But I have to say that once everything was gathered together it was a fairly simple cake to make. I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter... creative tweaking is a step too far right now! It is supposed to form a crack along the top when baking and it did exactly that, also smelling wonderful as it baked.
Maida Heatter describes it as a delicate cake but I would disagree. Whilst the blueberries and orange definitely impart a delicate flavour (which seems to intensify over time), the hearty crust and abundance of pecans make it seem rather a robust cake to me.
She also says "when you cut into it you will see thre darker purple and magenta berries against a lighter glowing orange background of cake. Gorgeous!" I suppose to some extent it is true but I would hardly describe it as gorgeous. A good wholesome hearty cake but not especially pretty! Although I was impressed that the fruit and nuts stayed suspended and well distributed throughout the cake... no sinking to the bottom. We thoroughy enjoyed it for afternoon tea on Sunday and I'm looking forward to another slice today (I'm writing this on Monday).
Blueberry Nut Loaf Cake (adapted from Maida Heatter's Cakes)
You will need a loaf tin, either lined or buttered. I followed the instructions and used butter and breadcrumbs, just because I happened to have breadcrumbs left... see method here but I'm not sure it matters or makes that much difference
- 175g blueberries
- 280g sifted plain flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 150g caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 28g melted unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- Zest from 2 large oranges
- Juice from two large oranges (approx. 185 ml)
- 150g pecans (or walnuts)
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F, 180 deg C, 160 deg fan.
- Wash and thoroughly dry the berries ( I confess that I skipped this step... seemed too tricky on one leg)
- Put berries in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of flour taken out of measured flour. Set them aside
- In a large bowl, gently beat the egg to break it up then beat in the butter and the orange juice.
- Using a low speed gently mix in all the sifted dry ingredients until just combined.
- Stir in the orange zest and the nuts.
- Spread about a quarter of the mixture into the base of the tin. It will be a thin layer.
- Gently fold the floured berries into the rest of the mixture and then add it to the tin
- Bake for about 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. (My cake took 65 minutes)
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about ten minutes before turning out to cool on a rack. You may need to loosen the edges from the tin with a knife. Maida Heatter says that the cake is tender and fragile so you need to take care with this, but mine seemed perfectly fine with my usual clumsy handling.
Check out what the other cake slice bakers have made this month: