Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Cupboard Cake- Dried apricot and flaked almonds
Why are you torturing me with this cake, Mama? Why?
I have mentioned Betty Bossi before.
Betty Bossi is the Swiss Betty Crocker. I understand that the identical first names is coincidence, although it is rather amusing.
Betty Bossi does not produce cake mixes. It primarily produces a little magazine, sent to subscribers ten times a year, with seasonal recipes. Of course, over the years, it has expanded into cookbooks, and into an online shop selling cake tins (d'you see that one just above?), measuring spoons, Useful Household Items (that are pretty useless in some cases), cleaning items, all that sort of stuff. Some of which I own, such as the sunflowers for putting in between your non-stick casseroles/frying pans, so they don't scratch each other.
Absolutely vital for the harmony of your drawers, I assure you.
I probably have about 15 Betty Bossi cookbooks, as I am a good, Swiss-emulating semi-hausfrau.
Really, I am. Honest. Pay no attention to my tattoo, OK? It was a youthful aberration, now safely covered over by the dirndl.
Well, not quite.
To get back to my point, and the cookbooks. Over the years, although I've collected them, I've never really been inspired by any of the recipes enough to actually cook from them. I remember one, the only one I made, being Poulet au Paprika, from a "Betty's Greatest Hits" cookbook, which was given such a write-up that I couldn't not make it.
I ended up making it twice, just to be sure that it really was as disappointing as it seemed on the plate. Basically, it was a lot of melted butter, a couple of tablespoons of paprika, and you basted the chicken with it multiple times during cooking, in order to ensure that the flavours sank into the chicken. Except that they didn't. It looked very pretty, though.
And yet... oddly... the last few months, I've been tearing out recipes to make from my semi-monthly magazine. Instead of flipping through it and dropping it straight into the recycling, which is what I've been doing for years.
The April issue had a section on "cake" recipes. I use inverted commas, as this is "cake" in the French sense, not in the Anglo-Saxon sense- namely a loaf, or a bread. Banana bread would be called a "cake" in French.
This section is made up of one basic recipe, and various recipes for additions to that basic mix- starting with chocolate, moving on to nuts, rhubarb, lemon and strawberry, blueberries, and ending with one including apples and caramels (as in sweets), and another with chocolate truffles.
The basic recipe is as follows:
- 150g butter, softened, in cubes
- 200g sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 250g flour
- 1 coffee spoon baking powder
Cream the butter, sugar, and salt. Add one egg after the other, mix for about 5 mn, until it lightens in colour. Mix the flour and baking powder, add to the butter mix, stir. Pour into the mold, bake for about 50 mns in a pre-heated oven at 180C. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, remove from mold, allow to cool on a wire rack.
The other recipes just add ingredients to this basic mix, sometimes with an extra egg, occasionally extending the cooking time.
It's a pretty good base, I think.
And thus, when I had some friends call up from Italy with a cry of "Help, the volcano has stranded us, please take us in until we can fly home!", one of my first thoughts for their sustenance (both emotional and gustatory) was to make "cake".
Not having any of the ingredients in the variations, however, other than the chocolate, I made up my own version, using ingredients left over from my marathon baking sessions before Christmas. And using them up, thank goodness!
My version had
- 2 packs (300g?) of dried apricots, chopped into rough cubes
- 1 pack (200g?) of flaked almonds
It was very, very nice.
My friends got here at about 11 p.m. one evening a few days later, and we sat down and ate about half of it. I left the rest of it out (covered) to be snacked on, and it was gone by the next evening.
I then made a version using a left-over apple, chopped, and some dried cranberries, but it just wasn't as good.
No matter- it's a good basic recipe to have! Even if Greta... wasn't too impressed.