Friday, July 15, 2016

British Madeira Loaf Cake...on your marks, get set, BAKE!

My husband is British (a Geordie) so we watch a lot of British TV, mostly comedies and crime dramas or murder mystery-type shows (stay away from Midsomer...deadliest place in all of fictional Britain!). His Geordie accent has faded through the years, but you can hear some awesome Geordie accents here, here, and here. I love the accent, wye aye, of course, but it's canny impossible to imitate! When he first moved to America, people had no idea he was from England and usually guessed Australia, which is funny to me because the Geordie accent sounds nothing like an Australian accent. But, I digress...

One of our favorite food-related shows (British or not) is The Great British Bake Off...on your marks, get set, BAKE! No Geordie accents there, but lots of fun bakes and kitchen mayhem in the tent. I decided that I might try to bake some of the recipes from the show as we watch each week (although I'm already a week behind in posting this!). In the first episode, one of the bakes was a Madeira loaf cake. I love anything with almonds and lemons, so I decided to try it.

I was planning to follow the Madeira loaf cake recipe from this BBC Good Food recipe, but I had to make some small changes because I had no all-purpose flour (how on earth did that happen?!) or self-rising flour that the recipe called I had to create my own regular flour using cake flour and bread flour; then I had to make self-rising flour by adding baking powder, and salt. A poster in the comment section on this site recommended converting bread flour and cake flour to all-purpose by using 6.25% of the total weight bread flour to the rest cake flour, so that's what I did, and then had to add leavening ingredients to create self-rising flour. Way more complicated than if I had the correct flour, but a fun experiment in substitutions and the awesomeness of the internet.

In addition to the issues with the flour, I also doubled the recipe, so I could slice and freeze one loaf, used more zest, a bit more egg, and added a bit of muscovado brown sugar, so I am including my slightly altered recipe here. Go here for the original.

gorgeous loaf - light and tender

The recipe is interesting because it doesn't call for any liquid! Most cake recipes call for milk or sour cream to offset the dry ingredients. This one didn't though, so it was a very easy cake to 'starting and ending with the dry ingredients' business. Sadly, neither of my loaves rose properly in the center and I didn't get the required open crackle dome top. I think this could be because of the changes I made to the recipe, all of the issues with making my own flour, or because I baked two loaves side by side and perhaps there wasn't enough airflow in the oven. However, even though it was lacking the signature crackle, the cake was delicious - a hint of the ground almonds and a hint of lemon. It reminded me of a light pound cake with a dense but really tender crumb. It would be a perfect addition for a tea party, or even to just make ahead, freeze and then thaw a slice or two for company. Twenty seconds in the microwave brings a slice back to life, warm and fresh.

375g cake flour

25g bread flour
3 3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
(alternately, use 400g of self-rising flour instead of the 4 ingredients above)

100g ground almonds

350g butter, softened
350g (minus 1 T) caster sugar or superfine sugar
1 T muscovado brown sugar
6.5 eggs
zest from 3 small lemons
2t vanilla extract
a splash or two of milk, if needed

Preheat the oven to 325º and prepare two loaf pans by greasing with softened butter. I also used a strip of parchment paper on the bottom of the pans. Set the pans aside.

mise en place - so simple!

Combine the first four dry ingredients (cake flour, bread flour, baking powder, salt) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly; add the ground almonds, mix well, and set aside.

Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream together the softened butter, caster sugar, and muscovado brown sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes until very pale in color and increased in volume (see picture).

but butter and sugars, pale and fluffy

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. This will add the volume to your cake.

adding the eggs and more mixing

look how pretty! Light, fluffy...
Next, add the lemon zest and the vanilla. I'm using my own homemade vanilla :)  When I've made vanilla more recently, I've added more pods to the bottles than in my original post that I linked to. It "cooks up" into vanilla much faster and has a more aromatic essence to it - I definitely recommend going in strong with the beans.

adding the vanilla and lemon zest
Next, mix the ground almonds and flour mixture together, then add slowly to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

mixing the flours and ground almonds together

beating in the dry ingredients
The batter will be thick, but should be loose enough to drop off a spoon. If it's too thick, put the mixer on low speed and mix in a few splashes of whole milk until it thins out slightly.

Spoon half the batter (I weighed mine to try to get the loaves as equal as possible) into each of your loaf pans; smooth the top of the batter.

Bake at 325º for 25 minutes, rotate pans, bake for additional 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Rotating the pans (i.e. taking them out of the oven briefly) may also be a reason for the non-crackling could try to not rotate them and see if that improves the crackling situation.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently remove the loaves from the pans to a wire rack and cool completely. Slice and enjoy with a cuppa!

almost, nearly wanted to close, but nope!

a close-up of my non-cracked tops :(

the crust is a gorgeous golden brown color

and the inside has a light and tender crumb


Bye for now...

No comments:

Post a Comment