I am still in denial about my relationship with cake. I will still claim that I do not rate sweet stuff, even though this blog serves as living proof that I most probably do. You see, I love baking. I am still a self professed baking retard and my aptitude comes nowhere near Jess’s delicate handiwork, Kim’s amazing skill at making just about anything work, or Harriet’s mastery of cake-baking realism (a turntable cake, anyone?), not to mention Teja – a doctor-cum-pastry chef and Aneta and her annual Christmas biscuit frenzy. What I lack in skill I more than make up for in inspiration – though you can also gather from the blog that has led to many disasters and I am sure will not have stopped there. Like a 3-year-old I get excited by a wide array of stimuli, mostly visual, and Tasteologie is my sweetest downfall. Browsing that site I feel like a child in a sweet shop – I get ridiculously enthusiastic and want to recreate literally everything. It requires a large leap of faith with a sprinkling of suspension of disbelief. Choux pastry eclairs? Easy peasy. Gooey beetroot brownies? Why not. Lavender scones, ice cream sandwich, devil’s food cake… the list goes on.
I do love baking, it presents me with a challenge that cooking does no more. When headed for a spectacular cock up whilst cooking you always know, and you can always rectify the situation. Subtle or less subtle tweaking and you are always a winner. Well, that is a different challenge I suppose. Baking is completely different – you have to follow the recipe to a T and success is guaranteed. Theoretically. You still have to follow the recipe to a T, but sometimes the gods of baking, or your oven are against you. ‘Why aren’t you rising you bastard!! Why are you rising this much?’ We all know the feeling of helplessness. Fortune is fickle, however baking still tests me to the limit and stretches my ability further than I thought possible. Lately I have even taken to decorating my creations with a piping bag – something that the purist in me would previously never have stood for. I used to thing that tasty things have no need of being made to look pretty. This is another aspect of my approach to cookery that baking has made me rethink completely.
And so it is with religiously blind trust in my abilities and the purpose of the activity that I bake. Eating my creations I’m less keen on. I will always have a slice. But the satisfaction eating cake offers can hardly equal that of baking, with all its shivering anticipation and joy mixed with relief. And so I bake for friends. I give cake away. I visit friends’ houses while they’re baking to take part and then leave the cake behind. I made pumpkin pie because of the sheer novelty. Finding keen recipients for it was a real struggle. So baking for birthday parties is a godsend – there are plenty cake lovers to feed and my creation will most likely be polished off on the day. Winner.
And, as expat gourmet has temporarily returned to where she came from, I baked with mum. Amazing revelation: mum is rubbish at this! I always suspected this, but since I never actively participated before, this was the first time I had tangible proof. My childhood memories of birthday parties are lined with cakes that only rise in the middle, split icing, burnt edges, ‘God this is actually revolting’ and ‘We’ll buy something at the confectionery’. I used to excuse these as temporary blips in my mum’s amazingness. Now I know that mum just isn’t that amazing in the kitchen. And even though I am very competitive at heart and have thus affirmed my kitchen victory over my ancestors, it is a victory tinged with slight disappointment. I will always share cake with mum. And I enjoyed making this one with her. PS No real baking involved. PPS I said that I dislike eating cake but this is truly delish.
Fruity White Chocolate Cheesecake (20cm tin)
200g white chocolate
250ml whipping cream
750g quark or cream cheese
40g vanilla sugar
fruit – we used red currants blackberries and peaches
200g cocoa biscuits
First crush your biscuits. We used old fashioned coconut and cocoa biscuits and I am not sure you can get a similar thing in England. Try and hunt down cocoa biscuits though, I like the contrast of black and white. Mix the biscuit crumbs with the softened butter, and press it down onto a springform tin to form a uniform layer. We baked this for 5 minutes, but I wouldn’t bother.
Get a bain-marie going and melt the chocolate. In the meantime, if you need to, chop up your fruit. We used peaches so we scalded them with boiling water to remove their skin first.
Using an electric whisk start whisking the cream in a large bowl. Be careful not to overdo this – you really do not want to end up with butter. Mix in the quark, and when both are combined well start pouring in the chocolate. You should have a smooth yet thick and stiff mixture. Fold in the fruit, reserving a little for decoration if that is your thing.
Pour the cheese topping onto the crust in the cake form. Try and even out the surface. Allow to rest in the fridge for 24 hours. Enjoy immensely.