How not to bake a cake

In anticipation of an event I have undertaken to cater tomorrow afternoon, I got to spend the afternoon baking. The event is the first session of a first-time endeavour, and the idea is to get people to come back. Cakes are not the main highlight, but I reckoned that if people got bored of hearing me talk about theory, then some good cake and real coffee after the fact would sweeten their memory of it.

The first cake was obvious: the chocolate cake that is a family secret and that I’ve made a hundred (could it be thousand?) times before, and it’s always good. I haven’t actually made it in a while, mostly because my husband’s wife can’t resist trying new recipes all the time (not always successfully).

It’s a lovely cake to make because it doesn’t want to be anything but a big old chocolate cake. No faffing about with folding, or creaming butter and sugar, or not overmixing (the evil muffin): get all the stuff in a bowl (including a load of melted butter), get an electric mixer, and beat to your heart’s content (this part is good for children). The idea is to get a batter that is smooth and velvety:


It was all going perfectly. And I had no doubt that my addition of fresh ginger and orange zest would be fantastic.

I put it in the oven, set the timer, and went about getting the next number ready (a spongey base covered in plum jam, topped with a crispy coconut crumble, “inspired” by Bill Granger’s blackberry slice). Meanwhile, the kitchen starting getting that righteous chocolate-cake-in-the-oven smell. It was only when I took it out 55 minutes later that I realised the bloody oven was on grill.

Look, we tasted it and it will do. Some might even declare it delicious. But I can’t remember the last time I did something so utterly stupid in the kitchen.

I mean, how clever is this?


I give you: gin and tonic sorbet (featuring cashew nuts).