Sunday, 31 August 2014

Fictional Food Adventure- Pippi Longstocking's Big Cream Cake.

Well, here it is. An unashamedly big cream cake, inspired by Pippi Longstocking. Just right for a Sunday afternoon tea with special friends.

I haven't much experience of making proper cakes, I tend to prefer baking scones or flapjack, but it was exciting to have a go at creating something special
and a bit OTT. The recipe was in American measurements but fortunately my dear brother had bestowed some charming cup measures on me a few birthdays ago so it wasn't a problem. It was rather refreshing not to weigh anything for a change. The only other obstacle I came up against was not having the right cake tin. We only had a standard medium-ish one but the recipe was for a 9and a half incher. The plan was to bake one cake then cut in half to add the cream and fruit filling. Instead I put two thirds of the mixture in one cake tin, to make a good height of cake to divide horizontally, and one
thirds in another cake tin of the same diameter, to provide a third layer. More layers equals more filling so not a hardship, and the prospect of an absurdly tall cake was rather alluring.

I was prepared for the double cream to take a while to whip up, from previous experience with my Mum's and Mum-in-law's double-whizzers but was amazed at how quickly our single electric whisk fluffed it all up. It took less than a minute, which is nice to know for when I make Bad Harry's Birthday Trifle later on in the Fictional Food adventure. 

The recipe gives complete freedom over choice of fruit so I chose the ever superior raspberry, and after testing several to check quality, I decided to mash them a bit in the style of Andy's lovely Mummy, who makes a darned good BFG (Black Forest Gateau) by chopping up the cherries and mixing it with the cream for the filling. I love raspberries but I personally prefer eating them a little mashed, releasing the juices and getting an instant raspberry tang on your tongue.  

The recipe only talks about a layer of cream and fruit between the sponges, and a topping of cream. When I started to spread the cream over the top I decided to hide the dark cake edges (slight over-bake - Tut-tut!) and completely plastered the cream round the sides as as well. Somehow, having a cake completely covered in cream is just a very happy looking cake. Not perfect and not impeccably neat, but suitably tempting and Pippi-ish. It was tricky to get the cream all the way down the sides so a bit of dark cake was showing at the base. I recently spent a lot of time using polyfiller to neaten up the walls in our house so I employed my newly-gained skills and loaded my finger tip with a pile of cream and dragged it all round the base, welding the cake to the plate and giving a pleasingly neat finish. I wish I'd also plastered over the second gap between the layers but I thought it would be nice to see some the fruit inside. Next time!

Pippi's cream cake was initially tempting to her because on the very top it had a single red sweetie. In her unfettered charm she cannot resist going over and eating that sweet straight off the cake. When she raises her head with the sweet, and some cream, in her mouth, she is amused to find that she cannot see due to the amount of cream all over her face. Deciding that she has sufficiently ruined the cake, her solution is to eat the whole thing. 
The recipe is just as pleasantly relaxed about choice of said red temptation, allowing you to choose between some sort of sweet or berry. I decided that these large raspberries would be ideal so I kept some of the biggest back for this purpose. As there were 7 of us for tea, Andy and myself and our dear friends Claire and Matthew and their three very wonderful children, I thought this cake needed 7 raspberries on top. Everyone was game
to accept my challenge of plucking a raspberry off in their teeth, a la Pippi. Once the table was set and we had all got comfy, I was urged to go first and managed to extract my raspberry without a molecule of cream touching me or my hair.

Andy went next and was equally exact and then the two boys followed, collecting only a pinprick of cream upon their little chins.

I believe Ruth and Claire escaped with just a mere whisker of cream on their cheek and then it was Matthew's turn to capture
the last raspberry. I'll be fair and say that his raspberry was the squattest of the lot and lead him very close to the surface of the cake, hence the creamy goatee. I did feel slightly naughty in leading these impeccably brought up young children astray and breaking all the rules of common table manners but, only slightly.

As Andy is not a passionate cake-eater, I was delighted to see him polish his piece off in record time. It's a great recipe and I think it's partly down to the buttermilk adding its tang, plus the lemon, cutting through some of the rich butter. 

The cake had been a little awkward to transport. Andy drove, while I sat in the passenger seat, holding the cake plate with both hands. It was exceedingly heavy and felt like it weighed a couple of kilos, especially towards the end of the journey. It wouldn't have been so bad if I could have rested it on my lap but I had to keep it aloft to counteract the swaying and bumping of the journey, so by the time Matthew opened the door to us, I was more than happy to pass it into his hands. 

On our way home, we decided that the big lump of cake on my lap, despite leaving a few portions with our friends, was still far too big for the two of us and should be eaten up while the cream was still fresh and not too squashed. So we looped back into the village to pop in on my Mum and Dad and persuade them to lighten our load. Mum is not a fan of cream but Dad is a very helpful and
sacrificial man and likes to help out where he can. He knows his duty. Just as we were cutting a lump for him, my dear old Phil-cat made his presence known so I ran a cheeky finger along the outside of the cake and scuttled out to greet my old moggy. He's not one to waste a good bit of cream and licked up several fingerfuls of cream (different finger each time for the sake of hygiene) with a zeal I haven't seen in years.

So we eventually left with a much smaller lump of cream cake and happy smiles from a lovely day.  

I think a little of Pippi's fun and nonsense got into all of us today and I can only hope that the next recipe will live up to the joys of this one. 

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