#153 Mocha Cake

This recipe contains absolutely no seasonal produce whatsoever. I’m not even sure it has any nutritional value either. This bizarre pudding was greatly loved in the Grigson household, particularly at birthdays and it seems to be some odd post-war version of a tiramisu: fresh coffee replaced by instant (fine by me), cream and cream cheese replaced by butter, sugar and ground almonds, and coffee liqueur replaced with sherry. It harks back, I think, to World War II where ‘mock’ foods were commonly made, e.g. mock cream, mock apricot tart, mock mayonnaise. They usually involved whipped margarine or lard. I know the apricot tart used carrots as its substitute.

Jane Grigson also mentions how good the French are (were?) at coming up with new and exciting puddings using boudoir biscuits. However, this one’s not French, it’s English, and was originally published in the Daily Telegraph. Alarm bells should have started ringing at that point…

Makes enough for 8–10 people:

Begin by creaming together 4 ounces of lightly salted butter with 4 ounces of vanilla sugar, once fluffy, beat in a large egg yolk. Next, measure out ¼ pint of milk and 4 ounces of ground almonds. Incorporate these into the creamed butter and sugar by adding alternately, a little at a time. Now slake a generous teaspoon of instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of boiling water and mix that in. Give it a taste – add more coffee if you like.

Now pour another ¼ pint of milk into a bowl along with a glass of dry sherry. Dip boudoir biscuits in the milk, but don’t let them soak, and arrange them in the bottom of a shallow oblong or oval dish. Now spread a quarter of the almond mixture over those. Repeat so that you have a total of 4 biscuit layers and 4 creamy layers. Make sure that you put cream over the sides so that all biscuits are covered. Cover with toasted slivered almonds and glace fruits if you like.

It’s hard to believe, but this tasted worse than it looked

#153 Mocha Cake – 2/10. Not precisely inedible, but just so unbelievably sweet and sickly. I have no idea why the Grigson clan like this pudding so much. There amount of sugar put my teeth on edge, and I may have woken up the next morning diabetic. The pudding was left out for a few days and was still okay to eat (it was slightly better in fact as the biscuits had gone soggier), no fly or microbe seemed to have touched it. I think that it may remain perfectly preserved for ever more due to its humongous sugar content.

#79 Carrot and Hazelnut Cake

Right. I promise that October shall be much more eventful in the world of The Grigson than September. It was my turn to do the cake for Evolution Group at University, so I’ve been given a good kick up the arse.

A favourite of the group is carrot cake, and there is a recipe in English Food – though it’s very different to the American carrot cake. It’s made without using fat, like a Genoese spoge to make it light and has the added bonus of having hazelnuts in it. Couldn’t resist not sandwiching it with American-style cream cheese filling.

FYI: Carrots have been used for desserts quite a lot in England. Mrs. Beeton had a sweet, chewy carrot tart in her book; it was revived as mock apricot tart during rationing in the Second World War, if I remember rightly (not that I was in WWII, you understand).

Separate four eggs and add to the yolks to the bowl of a food mixer along with 4 ounces of caster sugar. Whisk them together until pale and frothy. This takes a while so meanwhile finely grate 4 ounces of carrots and blitz 2 ounces of toasted hazelnuts in a food processor (or, heaven-forbid, chop them by hand!). Fold these into the eggy mixture along with 4 ounces of sifted, plain flour. Next, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Slaken the mixture by stirring in a third of the whites and then fold in the rest. Spoon the mixture into two greased and papered 9 inch cake tins and bake at 190ºC for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes. They’re ready when the sponge springs back pressed lightly. Cool on wire racks.

To make the filling, beat together 8 ounces of full-fat soft cheese with 5 ounces of softened unsalted butter, once incorporated, beat in 4 tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Use this to sandwich the cakes together. Dust the whole thing with icing sugar, if you please.

#79 Carrot and Hazelnut Cake – 8/10. A success. Every seemed to like it. Much less dense than a typical carrot cake. I could only have a tiny wee sliver since I’m meant to be on a carb-free week this week, but I had to taste it for the blog, didn’t I!?