Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A race to bake

I had such a nice day yesterday. British universities have an extra discretionary bank holiday the Tuesday after Easter, and I decided to take it and spend a day pottering. I had my breakfast in bed with both the cats, did some errands in town, went to a pilates class, and had a lovely mushroomy lunch (The Scientist had gone in to work as he has a meeting to prepare for). I spent the afternoon planting some herb and vegetable seeds, finishing a sewing project, hoovering the house and baking some really nice savoury muffins which I’ll blog about later. The pinnacle of achievement, however, was reached with a cake I made for A Slice of Cherry Pie’s Easter Cake Bake.

Having made hamentaschen for Purim and hot cross buns for Easter, I decided to go secular with this one, and made a Boat Race cake. The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race takes place around this time every year, but since Easter was so early this year they almost coincide. The Scientist and I met at Cambridge, but I did my undergraduate degree in Oxford, so Boat Race day always brings an edge of competition to our house. We’ve had a number of close-run races over the last few years and I can’t wait for this year’s event on Saturday.

The cake is a simple Victoria Sponge, but I experimented with making it lower fat, just to see if I could. I substituted two thirds of the butter with apple puree, and also used fruit sugar, so only needed two thirds of the stated amount. It did indeed work fine, and you could taste the apple in both batter and baked cake. The Scientist didn’t even notice any difference, though it’s possible that he was distracted by the lemon butter icing. I rather liked the additional appley taste.

Since I made the cake, the dark blue Oxford smartie crew is in the lead. In fact the light blue Cambridge smartie crew is frankly not in good shape – their bowsmartie looks as though he’s blown too early, and number 3 smartie seems to have his oar embedded in the bank. They also look set for a blade clash which is never good for crew focus. I suspect they may be distracted by the suspiciously clean state of the Thames, and perhaps also by the snow on the bank (the Cambridge crew really were playing in the snow this week – it was on the news and everything!). I predicted Oxford smartie victory, although not in the sudden and decisive way which was in fact played out, when the Cambridge smartie crew got unexpectedly eaten by a giant Scientist. Ah well, as long as the right crew won. Let’s hope the outcome is duplicated on Saturday.


Arfi Binsted said...

apple pure... uhmm.. that looks work! i'll try that out. do you use tart apples or eating apples? do they work the same? i'd love to cut the fat and using fruit butter instead of animal's. thanks for the idea! i love the gooey edges tumbling down the sponges! yum!

Lysy said...

Hi Arfi! I'm afraid I just used unsweetened apple puree from a jar this time. I've had trouble finding that before though, and usually just make my own from normal eating apples. I think that cooking apples would also work - they're supposed to cook down softer aren't they, but I always worry you'd have to add sugar to them which would take away from the healthiness a bit. Applesauce is a very common cake lightener, or try pureed prunes in a chocolatey recipe. I wouldn't replace all the fat though, as it has various good qualities in binding the flour and adding air. Good luck!

LisaRene said...

This is a wonderful cake! I'm glad your school is in the lead and surely going to win. My, you have a great education, good for you!

What an original idea, hope it tasted as good as is looks.

Johanna said...

Love your cake - I am always up for a bit of fun and colour in cooking as well as some healthy tweaking - this really has it all!

Ilana said...

hee hee they are so cute! and the dark blue smarties did do us proud in the end :)