During one of the blisteringly hot heatwaves we had in France last summer, I offered to take a cake to a garden party. The party was to celebrate both a couple of birthdays and a wedding anniversary so I wanted it to be a bit special.
Bundt cakes are great for large gatherings as they can be cut neatly into lots of slim slices. Most people don't want a big slice of cake at a party, just a taste of it. For this particular party the host asked for a lemon cake so I picked a recipe that I had used several times before with huge success.
This time, it went horribly wrong.
I have no idea why.
Despite using a good slathering of home made cake release the cake stuck firmly to the tin. I had that sinking feeling as I inverted the tin. Instead of the welcome sound of a cake plopping cleanly out onto the plate - nothing. No amount of tapping, shaking or cursing would persuade it to come out. Eventually it landed on the plate with a good third of it still stuck inside the tin. Rats !!
I wondered if the high sugar content combined with the high ambient temperature had something to do with it. I really have no sensible explanation why a recipe that has worked perfectly before should fail me now - and on such an important occasion, too!
This is how it looked the previous time I made it!
I put my thinking cap on and made a quick trip to the nearest supermarket. Which was not that quick as it's a twenty minute drive away. We have a choice of two supermarkets - twenty minutes away in one direction or ten minutes in the opposite - but that one closes for two hours at lunchtime. (One of the rather quaint features of life in rural France.) So it was Hobson's choice as I headed for Descartes in search of fresh strawberries.
I was in luck and armed with two punnets of strawberries I was able to rescue the cake.
I sliced off the ragged top of the cake where it had stuck to the tin, spread it with a good coating of whipped cream, filled the middle and decorated the top with strawberries and added a final flourish of strips of lemon zest and a sprinkling of freeze dried strawberries. It looked perfect for a summer garden party and tasted delicious! Nobody asked any awkward questions so I had no need to confess that it was very nearly a huge disaster!
You can see the recipe for the cake here.