No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A tale of two cakes

Inspired by my fab new cakestand, I decided to have a go at baking some cakes.  This isn't something I would normally do.  There are two of us in the house of NKK.  Even if I bring some cake in to work, that still means way too much cake around the place calling to me (just a wafer thin slice more...).  But we had a visitor come and stay for a few days, which somehow provided the perfect excuse. 

I decided to have a go at one of Bill's afternoon tea cakes from Bill's Open Kitchen (more about Bill here) ....

... a nutty cake...

... with lots of proper icing that would look good on a cake stand...

It turned out quite well and had an unexpected lightness to it.  The icing, made with lime juice, had that delicious tangy sweetness that I love, and had Mr. P and I bickering over the drippy bits on the cakestand.

Here then is the recipe for Coconut and Lime Macadamia Cake:

200g macadamia nuts
40g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated
165g sugar
finely grated zest of a lime
45g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Place the nuts, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are ground.  Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and creamy.  Fold through the zest and coconut, then the nut mixture.  Place the egg whites in a clean, dry stainless stell bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.  Using a large metal spoon, fold lightly through the nut batter.

Spread the batter evenly into a 23 cm greased or non-stick springform cake tin.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes in the tin. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate. Spread the lime icing over the warm cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.

Lime icing:
125g icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth and glossy.

Spurred on by this success, I decided that I needed a cake with rhubarb.  I could (and perhaps should) have made a rhubarb tart.  But I wanted something a bit more adventurous.  So I made this instead:

Nigella's rhubarb cornmeal cake. 

I think the kindest thing to say is that this did not end prettily.  There will be no slice shot. All the fruit sank to the bottom.  I have since learned on the internet that this is because the fruit bits were too big and that I should have coated them in flour before going in the cake mix.  And I took it out of the tin before it was cold so it's a bit saggy...
Not quite Nigella...
But despite its many flaws, I have to tell you that this cake is delicious.  Moist and juicy and tasty.  Of course it would be better with the fruit all the way through, but even all collected at the bottom the rhubarb is there in force.  I'd definitely make it again.  I'm sure that even Nigella didn't get everything right first time....

Recipe for rhubarb cornmeal cake:

500g rhubarb
300g caster sugar (please remember to split into 100g and 200g portions and not pour the whole lot over the rhubarb and get in a panic about rescuing it...  Yes indeed.)
150g plain flour
155g fine polenta or cornmeal
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter
250g plain yogurt, preferably bio

23cm springform cake tin, greased with butter and base lined.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180C.

Trim the rhubarb and cut into 1/2cm slices. Place in a large bowl with 100g of the sugar and leave aside whilst you prepare the rest of the cake. Don’t leave for longer than 30 minutes, otherwise too much juice will leach out of the rhubarb.

Mix the flour, cornmeal/polenta, salt, cinnamon, bicarb in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. In a small bowl or ramekin, beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and then slowly add this to the creamed mixture. Beat well until mixture is fluffy again.

In alternating spoonfuls, add the flour mixture and yogurt to the creamed mixture. Mix these in very slowly to preserve the fluffiness of the mixture. Finally, fold in the rhubarb and all the sugary juices.

Pour into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for approximately one hour until the top is springy and a skewer comes out almost clean. Check after 40 minutes and cover with foil if the top looks as if it is going to overbrown. Let it cool, in the tin, on a wire rack until just warm or leave to cool completely if not eating immediately. It can be reheated in the oven if wrapped well in foil.


  1. Your new cake stand sets off the cake beautifully. Both cakes look scrummy, I don't care what they look like, they don't last long enough here to look at them.

  2. Lemon icing yum yum. And well Nigella makes the best cake. I can highly recommend her Ginger and chocolate cake. I think the rhubarb cake looks delicious. A

  3. That is an amazing looking cake and perfect for your cake stand. I think the rhubarb cake looks fine....not as pretty as the other one perhaps but I'm sure just as tasty xx

  4. That first cake looks most impressive and sound yummy - and i like the look of the short ingredients list - nothing puts me off more than a long list!!!!
    Even thought the rhubarb cake didnt turn out quite as you'd hoped, it still looks pretty good to me and if it tastes scrumptious then thats the main thing!
    Apologies for being very remiss and not answering an earlier question of yours about sleep mask patterns - I customised a pattern that I got off the internet - just did a google search for pattern,looked at images and there was a free printable - however it was rather large so i ended up doing my own pattern based on it. As it took me 3 attempts to get right, I dont feel like making any more for a while even though Id lined it up for my shop - thought it would be nice with the lavender - will do them sometime soon though!


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