Last week, fuelled by sunshine, caffeine and the light of pure genius, I produced the World’s Greatest Lemon Drizzle Cake™. The cake’s excellence was subsequently verified by two independent experts, and at the time was widely acknowledged to be the finest of its genre that my flat – nay, the world – has ever seen. Songs, while not immediately forthcoming, will be written of its greatness. It was that kind of cake.
Yet it seems I flew too high. My attempt today to recreate last week’s triumphant cake resulted in, if not disaster, a situation that was far more interesting than I’d usually hope for on a hungover Sunday.
In typically selfless fashion, I have used my experience to formulate a very few simple tips that readers of D For Dalrymple can follow to avoid similar kitchen mishaps.
Ensure that the oven remains operational throughout the cooking process.
Other cooks may not have to worry as much about this step. My oven, which is older than me, responds badly to changes in its environment (such as opening or shutting its door). It can be frustrating to open the oven after 60 minutes to find a tin of lukewarm batter lightly aerated with British Gas’ finest.
When the recipe says use unwaxed lemons, this is usually for a reason.
Furthermore, running the lemon under the cold tap does not remove the wax which is apparently tattooed into lemons’ skins nowadays.
Under no circumstances use more baking powder than the amount specified by the recipe.
Most leading mathematicians agree that a single teaspoonful, while undoubtedly a small amount, is still roughly double that of half a teaspoon.
Lastly (and I really can’t stress this enough), do not use a baking tin that is significantly smaller than that suggested by the professional cook who wrote the recipe.
If you do, the result will resemble not so much cake as the aftermath of a controlled explosion in a snot factory. It will also yield the interesting byproduct of a large cookie, cunningly moulded to the precise dimensions of the inside of your oven. If of an optimistic bent, you can always scrape this off and serve with tea – however, you should be prepared for your guests to be put off by the speckles of decades-old old fat that will inevitably form part of the biscuity crust.
EDIT (5 June, 22:05)
I have just been enlightened on a further point. Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are NOT the same thing.
This may go quite a long way towards explaining a few other kitchen mishaps over the years