Almond Shamah Chiffon

With any luck, by the time this posts, I will be winging my way from London to Invercargill (be warned this link is only for the brave and really really sums up Invercargill!), New Zealand.  I think this may actually be the furthest destination from London - it is almost 11,800 miles.  If I am not somewhere over Asia/Europe/Pacific, then you may have heard about it on the news.

No, I am not a nervous flyer.  Well, if I am to be totally honest, I will be a touch nervous this time.  Mainly because I will be traveling 31 hours with my very active little assistant - my 15 month old son.  In coach.  With no extra seat.  On my own.  Did I mention he is quite active?   And that he has a cold complete with two green caterpillars extending from nose to everywhere?  I must be completely mad.  On the other hand, if I could contain him like this, then maybe it would be okay, although a little bulky on my lap.

Getting off the plane in Invercargill is a bit like stepping back in time.  First off, you invariably are met with the smell of fresh cow dung carried on howling winds blowing straight from Antartica.  (BTW, the cows live around the airport, not in Antartica - just penguins, birds, wind and a few scientists there).   Secondly, there is hardly anyone there; Invercargill has 49,300 residents and London numbers 7,700,000 - give or take.  So the pace of life is a little slower than London, and that takes a few days to get used to.  I mean, strangers (whom my mother assures me are completely in charge of their faculties) talk to you in the street - and not to get you to get you to move/walk faster/push you aside.  People don't treat you as though you were invisible.  It doesn't take an hour to drive 6 miles.  Very, very weird. 

In an attempt to delay the reality of the journey for a few more hours, I embarked on this week's cake exercise.  Can I just say that this cake looks like a little girly girl's dream come true.  All that is missing is a Barbie poking out of the top.  Well, at least that is what Rose's cake looks like.  And I am now happy to report that my cake is also looking fabulously girly.  Perfect for an afternoon tea with your rose scented Grandmother.  Definitely a cake to be eaten from pretty cake plate with a fork and of course a napkin.

I am yet to completely pack (though I have already packed Rose's book and cooking accoutrements), I still have washing drying and my flight leaves in nine hours - loads of time.  So here goes a very quick round up.

I found this cake pretty easy.  No smoke.  No leaking pans.  No Pollyfilla masquerading as cake.  I know - how disappointing!  Even my non blog reading friends were strangely pleased when I told them of my cake disaster, somehow they thought that all was right in the world if I could end up with such a mess.  So glad to offer a ritual sacrifice to the cake destroying gods every once in a while.

Can I just say that I am loving these cakes of Rose that beat the love into egg yolk and sugar, dust in (!!) the flours then fold in the meringue.  I was extra specially diligent this week and even went so far as to make my own wondra flour with the mix of Kate Flour and cornflour.  I bought all the right ingredients... I may have been cursing living in the UK vs USA when I was microwaving my flour, but boy oh boy, was I glad that the Tiptree seedless raspberry was in my local supermarket and it tastes amazing.   I was very happy to avoid sieving jars of raspberry jam.

As I was saying, the cake came together quite well, a really lovely thick mixture.  Though I wasn't so keen on licking the bowl.  There is something about almond extract that gives me the heebies - I was seriously questioning whether I would even be able to eat the finished cake.

This is my version of a dusting.  It looked less like a dusting and more like Pompeii circa AD 79.  And folding in the glorious meringue is weirdly satisfying.

This chiffon, is quite like a genoise in that you remove the crusts and apply a syrup.  The cake on the left is slightly undercooked, and the cake on the right is probably just right.

The top on the right looks pretty ugly because I improvised the flip flip flip action by using a baking sheet.  And didn't spray the baking sheet to prevent the top from sticking.  Which of course it did.  You know, that Rose, she really knows her stuff!  It didn't really matter though as the top and bottom get taken off anyway.

In this cake ugliness is definitely only skin deep.  The left cake is definitely slightly undercooked, it was harder to remove the surface and the middle was slightly too spongy.  My palate couldn't taste it in the final cake though.  The top and bottom of each cake is brushed with 1/4 cup of amaretto syrup.  This does make the cake a bit fragile, but fortunately after my burnt offerings of last week, I managed to pull off the flip flip assembly without any issues.

Rose's recipe calls for a raspberry jam flavoured whipped cream.  I opted instead for a raspberry jam flavoured mascarpone icing.  Why?  Well, I couldn't be bothered whipping cream, and I had a huge pot of mascarpone sitting in the fridge that wasn't going to be so great in three weeks.  Plus mascarpone in the UK is only marginally more expensive than cream.  Blessed aren't we?   The only thing I will say about the mascarpone icing, is that if it is cold when you put it on your cake, you will definitely get crumbs in your icing.  I even froze the cake before I iced it and I still got crumbs in the cake.  Luckily my only audience was my husband and the neighbours, so not so sure they would even notice that there were crumbs in the icing (especially if I was to not point it out).

A couple of lessons learned here.  See that the parchment strips are still under the cake?  I removed one, and along with it a wodge of icing where it was resting on the parchment, so I ended up having to cut around the parchment and remove the overhang.  Also, I think if you use mascarpone instead of cream, you actually need a bit more because the final icing isn't as aerated.  I just used what I had, so ended up with a less than perfect horizontal surface.  Maybe if I was serving this to a more exacting audience, then I would have bothered more.  Don't tell my husband or the neighbours!

 Here it is in all its pretty pastel purple/pink.  The undercooked cake is on the bottom and you can see that it has a more dense crumb.  I think this is also due to cake position in my rubbish oven.  I think I would have liked a tad more icing on the side, but other than that the icing/cake balance was quite good.  I didn't use the full measure of jam, just added it until it tasted sweet enough.   Though by that stage, I had tasted so much icing that my tongue had no idea whether it was too sweet or not.  No complaints from any of the testers, so I guess it was fine.

This is an excellent, and sophisticated (!) cake.  Quite delicate with the understated almond flavour nicely balancing the raspberry mascarpone icing.  It is so light and airy, even the most jaded palate could tell that this is no cake mix/mass produced supermarket or cake chain cake.  Grandmother would be (quietly) impressed!

Right, off now to finish my packing!  Looking forward to reading everyone's posts from deepest darkest New Zealand.  Fortunately they do have electricity and sometimes even the internet.   I will post some photos, because it is a truly beautiful part of the world, so long as you think sheep and cows and fields and wind blown trees are beautiful (though maybe not as spectacular as Butteryum's autumnal photos).


  1. Your little assistant is sooo adorable!! Your raspberry mascarpone icing looks yummy & smooth!! I'll try that the next time! Have a safe trip to NZ!! :)

  2. Very pretty and marscapone is a nice idea. You are a brave woman taking a toddler on such a long trip. Here's keeping my fingers crossed the plane was underbooked and left you with loads of stretching out room. Looking forward to your NZ pictures.

  3. I like reading your blog, I find it very entertaining! take care and have a lovely time, Bon voyage! Jeannette

  4. I love the way you casually put together a cake while you're packing to go to New Zealand, with toddler in tow yet! I look forward to your NZ cake baking adventures!

  5. Arriving at the same time as the Ranfurly Shield returned must have been different...? Trust your flights went OK, I'm sure everyone is delighted to see you and your cute wee boy. So are you sorted for the next cake? A new set of tasters will be fun too. Halloween is oddly out of quilter in spring, I end out making things those northern folks make at Easter at this time of the year!

    Best Wishes, Robyn, Waiheke Island

  6. Your cake turned out beautiful. I'm glad you enjoyed it. This cake is definitely on my todo list. I hope by now you've made it over there safe and sound. I clicked on the link you've provided and it looks gorgeous over there. Enjoy your stay! I have to ask: will you be attending the New Zealand Cake Decorators Guild Inc. Conference & Exhibition on Nov 8 and 9? I'd be totally all over that! :o)


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