After looking enviously at all the other entries in the Orange Victoria Sandwich Weekly Bake Off, most of which showed beautifully flat and even sponges, I decided it was time to improve my cake making. In the past I’ve not had much success in turning out a decent sponge so I searched on-line for an answer to why my sponges so often resemble ski slopes. I came across a good explanation of how a cake bakes and from that I understood that the edge of the sponge starts to form a crust before the rising process has really had a chance to get under-way, therefore the centre which heats up last is softer and so rises higher. That’s why you often get a teepee shape. In my case the side next to the firebox receives more heat than the other side, which rises up into a steep slope. There is nothing I can do about my ancient solid fuel Rayburn to circulate the heat more evenly but I did see a recommendation for something called “Bake-even cake strips”. These strips are soaked in water and wrapped around the cake tins to try to keep the outside of the cake cooler for longer, in theory giving an even rise all over. I researched these strips but found several reviews that weren’t terribly complimentary.
However, anything was worth a try and I came across a way of producing my own strips. Simply soak some kitchen towel in water and then sandwich in tinfoil. These “foil bandages” can then be wrapped around the cake tin. Determined not to take any chances this time, I also wrapped a tall collar of greaseproof paper around and secured it with string.
It wasn’t perfect but I did get a more even bake with only a very slightly uneven top. Overall I was very pleased with the appearance but not sure that I can be bothered with all that messing about every time I bake a cake.
My special ingredient this week was homemade cheese. Two days before baking my cake I made the curd cheese from my goat’s milk. It’s so simple to make, very tangy and it blended beautifully into the cheesecake mix.
The finished product was light and delicately flavoured with lemon but I was a bit unhappy when it was pointed out to me that all the fruit had sunk to the bottom, despite following the instructions to the letter and letting the mix sit for 10 minutes to thicken up.
Never mind there’s always next week.