Saturday, 16 August 2014

Soggy Sponge Cakes and Nine New Chicks

As the plane landed us back in good old Blighty, my mind was already working on what I would choose to bake on Friday night.
For Blokes Baking night had come round again and I had promised sponge cakes. I have never made sponge cakes, so it is a good job that the baking group is all about learning together. Sue makes sponge cakes by the dozen, whenever we have an accumulation of eggs, just simple loaf cakes with various ingredients added, sultanas, date and walnut, almond and cherry, lemon.... eating them all can be a real chore!

I eventually chose two recipes which seemed very simple. The all-in-one method seemed the most appropriate for the Blokes Baking Group, basically concrete mixing but with different ingredients! So we would try a basic sultana sponge in a loaf tin, followed by a coffee and walnut cake made from two rounds sandwiched together.

It all seemed very quick and simple compared to some of our bread-making efforts, but I was aware that sinking sponges would be a potential pitfall. Luckily, Sue would be on hand to help out if we got stuck... or so I thought. Little did I know that the Widows of Blokes Baking Group had arranged to go down the pub for the evening!!!

Sunken, soggy and sorry.
Well, I'm pleased to report that we had our first major failure. All three sponge cakes sunk in the middle, to varying degrees, but one of them went even more drastically wrong!!!

A post mortem left us puzzled, but upon the advice of experts (no less than the revered catering secretary of the Fenland Smallholders Club), we decided that it was all Mary Berry's fault!

But in the true spirit of Blokes Baking Group, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves down and bounced back with a couple of rather delicious coffee and walnut cakes. Our success here was undoubtedly due to our newfound expertise and nothing to do with Mary Berry!

Our first day back from Rome was an exciting one for another reason. For we had put a dozen eggs under Elvis, timed to hatch on our arrival back in the country. Our plan worked perfectly with Elvis contentedly clucking and the distinctive sound of new-born chicks cheeping and the sight of tiny feet and beaks protruding from Elvis's protective feathers.
By this morning Elvis had moved off the nest and I could count nine healthy chicks.

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