the cake is not a toy

the cake is not a toy

I turned away for a moment, to find the matches. The menagerie took advantage of my brief lapse in attention.

It was my birthday. My son was beginning to feel well after having been sick for almost a week. Until then, he had had no interest in baking. But on the day, he was enthusiastic. He did a little stirring from his sick bed (the fold-out couch in the living room). He discovered he was not well enough to sit or stand for long. We made a lemon and almond cake, adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe on page 12 of How To Be A Domestic Goddess. I halved the quantities and omitted the flour. The cake seemed fine without it. We baked it in a 17 cm (7 inch) round tin. It would have been better made days earlier, as Nigella recommended, but our life a few days earlier was not compatible with baking. The cake is certainly more delicious now, and the texture improved with keeping. I find it is best eaten in small pieces, rather like the cakes at one of our favourite cafes: they are served in 4 cm (1.5 inch) squares. I enjoy that amount, the first couple of bites of a conventional piece of cake. It makes me think of advice I once read in a wine column: the first glass of wine is always the best, so why bother with any after that?

Damp Lemon and Almond Cake – the modified recipe

  • 110 g unsalted butter (‘softened’ 30 s in microwave, high power)
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110 g ground almonds
  • zest & juice of one lemon
  1. Cream butter and sugar until almost white (I just use a metal spoon).
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time (still using the spoon).
  3. Stir in almonds, then lemon zest and juice.
  4. Pour into lined tin, bake at 180 C (we used 165 C fan forced, but our oven is strange, so I am providing the advised temperature).
  5. Check after 40 min, cover with foil if starting to brown but cake is not cooked. Inserted skewer should come out ‘cleanish’. Cake is damp, so a little may stick. Just don’t want it looking like raw dough.

A few days later:

a piece of cake

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