This blog has been a long time in the making, mainly due to my own inactivity. I wanted to start one up, but to do it right! As of course, this blog will be my ticket to stardom and I wanted it to be something I can be proud of (*cough*). Truly, though, I want to try and make this blog a reliable source for delicious recipes, and I was worried about not having enough time to put towards posting. No-one needs to mention now that it has been a week since my last post because that’s all about to change! I am attempting to learn self-discipline, and stay tuned to the Sugar Hit, to see just how well that turns out. (Is it irony that this is a blog about self-indulgence, given what I have just said?) Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked…
mmmm, cake cross-section
What I am trying to get at is that I have had the idea for this blog in the works for a long time, and there has been one team of people who have been instrumental in helping me get off my ass motivated to do something about it! And the leader of the team would be the MANager in question TIM! Pun intended. So lucky for all of us, his birthday happened to fall right around the time that The Sugar Hit launched, and it seemed like a very auspicious occasion to bake a good old fashioned, country women’s association style Birthday Cake! A lemon butter cake, with blueberry jam filling, and the icing of all icings, cream cheese. There really is something about that slight acidity that sets off the buttery sweetness of almost any cake….
the crumb coat
What I did learn in the making of this cake is the importance of a crumb coat. A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that you spread over your filled cakes about an hour before you want to ice them for real. You let the crumb coat set in the fridge and it forms a protective, solid layer over your cake, so that the final icing is smooth, and free of unsightly crumb speckles. You could say- if you wanted to be really corny and find metaphors for life in baking – that the Tim team at my work have been like the “crumb coat” for this blog, helping all of the final pieces come together smoothly, free of unsightly speckles. Also, when you bake as much as I do, it pays to have a hungry team of people at work otherwise your waistline tends to suffer. Trust me, mine takes enough punishment as it is.
I’m not going to lie, there was some backlash over this show of birthday-cake favouritism in the workplace. So stay tuned for the apology treats!
Lemon Butter Cake with Blueberry Jam Filling and Cream Cheese Icing
adapted from Nigella Summer, by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2002
Serves 8 (or James, Tim and then some tiny slivers left over for me, Tash and Clare)
250g Self Raising Flour
250g Butter, at room temperature (salted or unsalted as you prefer)
250g Caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 Lemon
2-3 tablespoons of Milk
About 160g of your favourite, good quality Blueberry Jam
300g Cream Cheese, at room temperature
100g Butter, at room temperature
3 cups Icing Sugar
For the cake, grease and line two 18cm round springform pans and set the oven to preheat at 180C, fan forced. Sift the flour and set aside. In a large bowl, or a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, and then add the eggs in one at a time, following each egg with a spoonful of flour. Once the eggs are all in, slowly fold in the remaining flour, followed by enough milk to get the cake to a soft, spoonable consistency. The mixture should feel moussy and airy.
Divide the mix between the two tins, and put them in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, swapping their spots in the oven halfway through. The cakes should spring back when pressed lightly, and they will be coming away from the sides of their pans. Cool in their tins for about 10 minutes, and then unspring your tins and flip the cakes, carefully, onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While your cakes are cooling you can make the icing, which is ridiculously easy, especially if you have a free-standing mixer. All you do is bung everything together in a bowl and mix until they are well combined and a bit fluffy. Feel free to add extra flavourings to this icing, like some lemon rind or lemon oil. On a different cake some vanilla might be good, or a bit of rum on a pineapply kind of cake? Up to you. Here I like it plain.
So once your cakes are cool, take the nicest one to use for the top and set it aside, then spread the bottom one with jam, stack the other one on top, and begin your crumb coat. Take out and set aside about 3/4 of a cup of icing to use, so that the rest doesn’t get crumbs in it, and then starting on top and working down the sides, spread a very very thin layer over your cake. Once done, the cake needs to go into the fridge for an hour-ish to set, then you can let your inner Country Women’s Association spirit loose on the cake, and decorate however you like! You do need to spread another thicker layer of icing on all over the cake first, of course, which should go on beautifully, but then the rest is up to you. Enjoy!