Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Tick-tock Clarice

I admit it, I'm procrastinating.

I'm buried under biochemistry questions, chemistry questions, trying to sort out bits of broken equipment that have forced my work to a halt and my quarterly industry report is due on the desk of a guy in the US first thing tomorrow morning.

I have a long running experiment on the go that needs five hours of prodding every day until the virus capitulates and stops being infectious. It's been a week now of 6 am starts and it's still sulking and refusing to give in. I have 23.6 g of impure yellow slime on my desk waiting to be purified and turned into something that has to be pure enough to soak into a protien crystal. I'm racing the crytallographer on this one; and he has protein clean and trays put down so it's looking like a close run thing. I need to chase a chemical company as I'm running out of silica gel and triflic anhydride. I need to pull some data of the HPLC and analyse it before my boss gets back. I'm on autoclave duty. I have been running about like a gazelle on steriods all day; powered by a cocktail of caffiene and sugar. No pressure.

So what am I doing now?

Stalking some craft stuff on Ebay and making cake. I have the concentration span of a slightly mad goldfish at the moment and I can't settle so I need to relax a bit. This is my default "No way am I making your middle tier sponge, I'll make a seperate one and we can hide it in the kitchen" wedding cake - the sponge that noone sees that appears in bits at the end of the night when everyone has had too much to drink.

I have some lemons. I bought them to make cake with last week and forgot about them. I need to use them pretty sharpish as they aren't coping in the heat - normally I just buy fruit, put it in the fruitbowl and watch it decay but today I'm going to be good and make an effort. There are four here, so I'm removing the zest and juicing them. I tend to keep the zest and juice separate as I don't like bits of zest on the top of the cake all that much, but it's a personal thing.

Butter - 140 g butter, warmed gently so it's soft - or just accidently left out on the side all afternoon in this heat!

Sugar - 250 g of sugar. Normally plain white sugar for this cake, but I'm using half-half white and light brown today as that's what I have at the moment. It honestly doesn't matter; the darker the sugar you use, the darker the final cake will be.

Eggs - two plus and two extra yolks, lightly beaten as usual. This receipe came about as a way of using up excess egg yolks after a pavlova fest, so that's why it's an odd number. Add the lemon zest and beat hard until smooth.

280 g of self raising flour with 1 tablespoon of baking powder thrown in.

Add about 3/4 of the lemon juice into the mix and beat really quickly. Once again, the cake mix is a bit sloppy at this point, but don't worry, it's meant to look like this!

Cake form - this mixture seems to work best as a thin layer in a shallow tin - normally I cook it in a swiss roll tin and make up layers. It doesn't rise very much so thicker layers in loaf tins just end up dense; fine for sculptural work and (hiss spit) people who *insist* that middle tier has to be sponge, but not good for light fluffy cupcakes. Today I'm using a square muffin tin, but cupcakes work fine. This mix will make about 24 cupcakes.

This is one cake I don't tend to grease the pan for or use cake release. As much as the stuff is supposed to be tasteless, I can taste it and I'm not going to frost these so there will be no way of hiding fried edges. You might think that life is too short to individually line each well. I would argue that life is too short to wash this tin.

Mixture goes in...

...the oven at 160 degrees, until a skewer comes out clean - about an twenty minutes, but it will vary depending on your oven and your cake tin. Watch it closly as it will catch.

I tend to leave them to cool in the tin a bit, with a cloth over them to keep the moisture in.

These are little sugar crystals. I end up with boxes of these as every time the out-laws descend on us as they always bring them with them. I'm not sure why. I'm assuming they are some Germanic bartering tool I do not understand the value of. We do have sugar in this country last time I checked but these make an okay (totally optional) topping for this particular cake seeing as I haven't got the faintest idea what else to do with them.

Crush lightly, throw a tablespoon of limonochello on them and sprinkle over the cake then drizzle a mix of 20 g of sugar and the juice of the last remaining lemon over them and flick over icing sugar. About a teaspoon per cake works okay, they are quite light, so if you add too much, you will be eating them with a spoon. I prefer this topping to frosting for lemon cake, but this cake works nicely with a light glace if you want it iced instead or with lemon curd.

Woo hoo, work avoidance cake!

Better throw my report together; at least he's six hours behind in the US so I've still got some time left before I get the reminder email. I am an ocean of calm...

And breathe...

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