Alright, I said there would never be anything about baking on here and now there is.
We had “cooking” down on the programme at Rangers this week and what we eventually settled on was cake. Given the age of Rangers, I like to do real food with them – for a start, they’ve been making cake since they were Brownies and they’re also approaching an age when they need to have an idea of how to cook a meal or two but they chose cake and then it was left to me to sort out the details.
Plain sponge cake is boring. Chocolate cake is too predictable. Fruit cake takes too long and no one really likes it anyway. And then I came across coconut cake. I like Nice biscuits, which are coconutty so I figured the cake might be nice.
And it was. We made cupcakes – the girls made cupcakes, that is, and I supervised and tried to encourage all of them to take part in the making – some girls are always inclined to sit on the worktop and take selfies instead of joining in. We substituted chocolate chips for the frozen dried raspberries in the original recipe and the cakes were really good.
I had so many ingredients left over, I decided to make a batch on my own, just to use them up and because the cakes were so tasty. The trouble is, my kitchen is currently in the process of being ripped out and replaced, so I used my sister’s kitchen. She knows all about baking so she supervised while also making a maypole cake for May Day and she has lots of equipment – the flour sifter was much more complicated than an ordinary sieve but I did enjoy using the ice cream scoop to fill the cake cases and while we had to improvise a bit with the measurement of the wet ingredients last week, she has a measuring jug and also a silicone whisk, to say nothing of a cupboard full of cake-making and decorating tools she’s never even got round to using. And more by luck than design, the corner of her kitchen makes a nice arty decorative backdrop for photos.
I watch things like the Great British Bakeoff – well, I don’t watch them because I don’t see any enjoyment in watching people make cakes, except once in a blue moon one of the celebrity editions, if there’s someone on there I’m interested in. My main problem with it is that everyone enjoys baking and they can’t conceive of a human being who doesn’t. It’s all “baking is wonderfully relaxing” and “everyone loves baking” and I can’t identify with that at all. Baking is one of the most stressful things I can do in my own home. “What is this?!” “What does this mean?!” “How do I do this?!” “Why does it look like this?!” “Is it supposed to look like that?!” and so on. Cakes end up heavy and/or flat, icing ends up runny and once I tried making scones three nights in a row and all three attempts were a total failure. We did it at Brownies – one adult per Six. Three other three Sixes produced beautiful scones. My Six – not so much. Tried it with Rangers, left it pretty much in their hands. Nope. Tried it myself at home, determined to get it right this time. No. Not going to happen.
But with a baking-expert sister on hand to explain what this is and what that means and to smell the coconut milk and to produce new and strange baking equipment, the coconut cupcakes went ok. I was a bit concerned that the mixture was too runny but it thickened up and then they cooked perfectly and came out golden and domed and the best cakes I’ve ever made in my life and I’m very proud of them. What I’m even more proud of is that my sister’s plain sponge was a worse failure than any cake I’ve ever made. First it leaked out of the leak-proof tin in the oven. Then it was flat. Then, when it was sliced in half, it turned out to have the consistency in the middle of a sponge left in a bath for eight hours. So the one who can’t bake made the better cakes by far!
While I’m pretending to be a baking blogger, here’s the recipe.
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
150g caster sugar
25g desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
100ml vegetable oil
150ml coconut milk
As many chocolate chips as you feel like/have on hand
1) Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2) Mix all the wet ingredients together in a jug.
3) Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ones in a bit at a time and mix to quite a wet mixture.
4) Mix in the chocolate chips.
5) Pour into cake cases and cook for ten to fifteen minutes or until golden and domed.