It was a relief when this month’s Alphabakes Challenge, was to bake something with the letter “C”. After a few not so easy letters, this one offered a huge amount of choice: chocolate, coffee, cherry, coconut, caramel, carrot………..an almost endless list. You can see the details on Ros’s blog here.
The other day I was browsing through a book I bought just before I retired. (I absolutely did not need another cake recipe book but I was feeling very buoyant one lunchtime with only 4½ days left to work, so I splashed out and treated myself.) Delia’s Cakes.
On reading the first few pages I discovered that Delia now believes there is rarely any need to cream butter and sugar separately and suggests that as long as you sift the flour really well an all-in method of mixing is fine. She also suggests using spreadable butter where softened butter is called for. Both of these tips appealed to me greatly as the first one saves time and the second one saves a lot of hassle trying to make sure you have butter at the right softness before you start.
The other tip I picked up is that using one of those pleated paper liners in the tin is good with cakes that are to be kept for a few days as it helps to keep the cake moist. She specifies using one for this recipe and previously I never understood the point of them but on her recommendation I went out and bought a pack. The local shop only had packs of 40 so I have another 39 cakes to bake before I have to buy another one !!
On browsing the recipes I chose caraway seed cake because it’s such a nostalgic flavour. I had an unopened pack of caraway seeds lurking in my baking cupboard and as soon as I opened it I was transported back to my childhood. I could just see myself sitting on the floor at my grandma’s house, playing with the contents of her button box, listening to my mum, aunty Vera and grandma gossiping over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Caraway cake was a favourite in the 1950’s and 60’s, possibly because it was a very cheap way of flavouring a simple cake. According to Wikipedia, caraway seeds have been used in baking since the 1600’s but you don’t see them being used very often these days.
The cake was obviously very quick and easy to rustle up. It was done perfectly in the time specified, although I did get a bit concerned that it might be slightly over browned so I covered it loosely with foil for the last ten minutes. I loved the caraway flavour ~ although I can see that it could be overdone very easily and the cake could taste rather unpleasant and medicinal.
So it is with great pleasure that I submit this cake to Alphabakes, a monthly challenge organised by Ros of More than the occasional baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes. I shall definitely be making this cake again and delving further into Delia’s latest book.
I don’t know how many letters are left in the Alphabakes series, but, rather like a lengthy game of Scrabble, there can’t be many easy ones to go. We haven’t had a “Z” yet but believe it or not, there is a recipe for zagablione cake in this book !!
175g self raising flour
175 spreadable butter (I used Anchor Lighter Spreadable as that’s what I had in stock, straight from the fridge, and it was fine)
175g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
50g ground almonds
4 tblsp milk
3 tsp caraway seeds
For the topping
2 tblsp demerara sugar
1 tblsp flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C /160° fan / gas mk 4. Put a greaseproof paper liner into a 500g / 2lb loaf tin.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Delia suggests doing this from a good height to aerate the flour as much as possible.
Add all the other cake ingredients and beat with an electric hand mixer for about a minute until well combined and creamy.
Spread the mixture into the tin and level the top. Sprinkle the topping ingredients evenly over the mixture.
Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes until the cake is springy to touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
Serves 10-12. Delia suggests the flavour improves after a couple of days, hence the benefit from the paper liner.