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!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Cream Cheese Brownies - challenge accepted!

umm, they worked for me... - Rose Red

I just had to cook them for twice the recommended time (40 minutes all up). I hope this doesn't mean I am an evil person...

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Cream Cheese Brownies

What's not to like? - Nigella Lawson

The verdict:
There's nothing to like about this recipe, except for one thing. The way the recipe is written is intriguing.

Nigella writes, in the instructions on how to melt the chocolate and butter, that you can leave it on the stove without heat for a while before it's finished melting because it will continue to 'deliquesce' if left. Gee, thanks Nigella. You help me enhance my vocabulary, even when your recipes suck.

There will be no photos for this post. What you'll get is essentially a rant. If anyone else has made these with success, speak up! So far, my test audience of one (George) agrees with me. Nigella let us down on this one.

Unusual or substituted ingredients: Cream cheese. I thought it sounded weird to put cream cheese cubes in the mixture, but I must have liked the idea at least a little or I wouldn't have ventured down this track. Basically you cut up fridge cold cream cheese and plonk the cubes into the part-poured mixture, before covering it over with the remaining mixture. It's supposed to be like a chocolate cheesecake.

Special utensils or cookware: None.

Repeatability: Never. I was making these for an afternoon tea at George's house and I had to turn up empty handed because they failed abysmally. Why did they fail? First of all, she says to cook them for 20 minutes. The mixture has hardly warmed up in that time. Forty minutes later I really had to get them out of the oven so I could let them cool before I went out and they still weren't set.

I let them cool totally and inside, they were still runny. The cream cheese was the problem, I think. Nigella says to use 200g of cheese but once I'd put about 50g worth of cubes in the mixture, there was no room left so I think it was overcrowded and seriously impeded the cooking process.

Sauciness: Zero. I was just angry. We threw the lot out.

Overall pleasure level: I got no pleasure from this recipe at all! I felt like less of a failure though when George declared it hadn't worked for her either.

If anyone else wants to have a go to give this recipe a chance in perhaps more competent hands, go right ahead. If you don't have the book, I'll send you the recipe. Let's get a challenge happening!

Oh and the reason there are no photos is that I was in rather a rush and forgot to take any during the making of them. By the time they were supposedly done, I was so disgusted I wanted to remove all evidence of them.

These get a big fat zero out of ten from me. Nice idea, pity about the result.