Wow. That was longer than I expected. And during the past three weeks I was lucky to cook toast let along cake! I will have to play catchup because after reading the posts for the Coffee Chiffonlets and the St Honore Trifle, I cannot let them pass.
So, in the past three weeks, we have moved house (painful, painful, painful - why do I persist in agreeing to "do it ourselves" instead of paying for a man and a van to move the 11 loads of toys, 9 loads of kitchen stuff, 8 loads of books and 2 loads of everything else); welcomed my father in law and his wife through the volcanic ash haze; had six days in Seville (glorious and my almost two year old son has developed a taste for Caracoles - little snails cooked in garlic and herbs); and finally two days in Paris (working, so not very glamorous). We are still surrounded by boxes and disarray. Moving from a furnished house with lots of storage, to an unfurnished house with little storage has been interesting. And not interesting as in "who is going to be the UK prime minister?". Lets just say that I have a love/hate relationship with Ikea. Cheap and functional, but a soul destroying labyrinth of flat packed consumerism.
I am in love with my new kitchen. An expanse of black granite that advertises every single crumb in neon. A fantastic oven that actually heats to the temperature indicated on the dial. This is an absolute first for me! The only slight downfall is that no cupboard is big enough for my Kenwood or Magimix, so they have been relegated to to the "top shelf". If you read in the Darwin Awards about a woman killed by a blow to the head from a Kenwood...
This was a pretty easy cake to make. This is a cake from the Brittany region in France, renowned for its butter and dairy products. I searched high and low trying to find Brittany butter, well, to be honest, I just looked in the butter section at my local supermarket. Nothing from Brittany, so I ended up with President, which hails from Normandy and is 80% butter fat. Rose recommends 84% butter fat, the lower butter fat apparently results in a moister crumb, which makes sense since those four percentage points are replaced by water.
In general I am a big follower (some would say "instigator") of chaos theory. So things like the mise en place that I see other HCB'ers do on a regular basis is completely foreign to me. The photo above is my attempt at mise en place. Two of the
The cake is a traditional creaming method cake. Fats creamed with sugar, add in almond meal (I was lazy and didn't do the toast and grind as Rose requests), egg yolks added one at a time, then flour in batches.
These egg yolks were looking so glorious, I just had to take a photo of them. They look more like apricots than egg yolks. I was momentarily distracted by a cold glass of Rosé on my way back across the kitchen to the mixer when gravity and alcohol interacted. It is never good when gravity and alcohol get together...
So anyway, after I opened another egg yolk and beat it in, the mix looked a lot like this. In the euphoria of not dropping all the egg yolks I tipped them all into the mixer at once, instead of one at a time. I am not sure if this had any effect on the end cake. I did beat the mix for the total time and it seemed well combined.
This makes a really thick batter. More biscuit like than cake like. Which is exactly how Rose describes it - a cross between shortbread and pound cake.
I'm not raving about this cake. Sure, we have eaten it (best warm from the oven with clotted cream icecream), but it doesn't call me up the stairs in the middle of the night. And I wouldn't have missed it if it had been sent to office mouths. I am a bit non-plussed by the middle ground of shortbread and pound cake. I am a big fan of shortbread, and not fussed by pound cake. So I guess any deviation from the shortbread end of that linear scale was going to leave me a bit disappointed. I do think that my appreciation of it was somewhat dimmed by me forgetting the vanilla extract. It tastes a lot of butter, eggs and a smidge of almond and Effen Black Cherry Vodka, but I can say I miss the completeness or familiarity that vanilla adds.
This won't be going on my bake again list. I might try it again if I ever end up in Brittany and I have eaten my fill of baguette and butter and pastries and flan and, well, you get the idea.
Next week is baby Lemon Cheesecakes. I am not sure if mine will be baby or not. I haven't done anything about a pan. The English must not be big bakers, or at least, not into specialty pans, because they are pretty hard to source over here. I do have a little giggle that the land of the big has such an array of little specialty pans. I need to finagle myself a work trip to the States...