Sunday, 30 September 2007

My Mother-in-Law's Madeira Cake

It's just one of those plain cakes you can't see the point of, until you start slicing and eating it - Nigella Lawson

The verdict: I've made this cake numerous times, prior to this blog. I made it again recently when I felt like making something simple and comforting. Read on though and you'll learn about the rather amusing mistake I made.

Unusual or substituted ingredients: The recipe is for a plain, lightly lemon flavoured cake, which came from Nigella's mother-in-law. The plain one is excellent but I like the variation to make it into a lemon poppyseed cake.

Take a close look at the photo above. Not until I was starting to gather the photos for this post did I realise what I'd done.

Do they look like poppyseeds?

No. They're in fact NIGELLA SEEDS! What a scream. I am highly amused by this, not least of all because of the name. I asked Sean if he noticed something odd about the cake and when I explained I'd accidentally used Nigella Seeds (which, if you don't know them, are a kind of onion seed) he said he had not noticed at all. Truth be told, neither had I. We have eaten it drowned in a lemon sugar syrup though, which might have disguised the faint onion flavour a bit!

Special utensils or cookware: None. It's as straight forward as you can get.

Repeatability: I'll make this cake and its variations again and again and again.

Sauciness: It's not so much a saucy cake as a good, simple and very gratifying cake. That said, you can do as we did and up the stakes by making a lemon sugar syrup, heating up a slice of cake in the microwave, dousing it in syrup then adding a dollop of cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A winner, for sure.

Overall pleasure level: This cake is wonderful. The greatest pleasure for me is in the sugary, crispy surface you get by sprinkling caster sugar over the surface before you bake it. It splits the cake open and creates a delightful, light, crisp crust. This is an 8 out 10 for me. Nigella seeds and all. Although next time, I'll make sure it's poppyseeds I've got, not Nigella seeds!