A month of big birthdays deserves a big statement birthday cake. My dad turned 85 a month ago. Red Bistro turns two at the end of September and I turn [?] at the end of this week! Just seen that BB, Brigitte Bardot, turns 80 today, and looks great ‘sans lifting’!. Rather a dose of birthdays one way or another. This birthday cake is a triple-decker delight and certainly has lifting! When one’s in one’s 80s, one may as well say to hell with it, and indulge! Just sorry Dad you had to wait so long for me to get the photos from disc to drive. No prizes for working out how old I must be, given my dad’s age!
Occasionally, I discover a photo or two of my parents in their earlier lives, before children, from well over half century ago. When we’re growing up, we’re so wrapped up in our own lives, going through all those periods of thinking of ourselves only and grumping around the house. Acne and acute embarrassment of our parents and all that. We all know how it goes though; once we’re parents ourselves, we see our own children living out the same traits as we had in pre-puberty into puberty years. I have a close friend who peppers her emails to me with the adjective ‘poisonous’ in relation to her 12-year-old daughter’s latest coup de grace. I distinctly remember being deserving of that description!
It is now in later years, and thankfully with both my parents still around, that I find myself curious to uncover their early lives. What once seemed embarrassing now seems uber retro and mid-century fascinating. ‘Wow’, said my son seeing the photo of his grandfather [below]: ‘How cool’! I never said that about him; sadly. Can even a triple-decker cake rustled up in his kitchen when I visited a month ago make up for all those years of ignorance? My dad, I hasten to add, is a domestic god and batch bakes amazing cakes and homemade bread these days. No way can I beat his orange cinnamon cupcakes nor his supremely chocolaty choc cake! From flying planes to the perfect pastry, all within a lifetime’s achievements.
A small record then on this blog of my dad in his 20s and at 85. He didn’t mind the pink; the only ‘8’ and ‘5’ I could find in candles were such a neon colour. Now to some Red Bistro news.
From Birthday Cake to Food on film
The Red Bistro kitchen, all the house in fact, is going to be invaded by builders for a good few months; the very last thing to be done will be the new kitchen. In lieu of my regular photo-recipe posts, I’ll be venturing from the stove to get out and about filming some vignettes of food life in Malta.
Since a good few of you are probably here because of the ‘Mediterranean’ bit in the site’s tagline, I’ll be talking more about seasonal eating in the mid-Med with nifty ideas on what to do with some core Mediterranean ingredients. Beyond tomatoes, pizza and ice cream there’s a whole lot of interesting Mediterranean foods; and of course, Med food is all about lifestyle not just ‘how to cook’ the local produce. Think Slow Food Movement and all that. I’ll be talking to artisan producers and farmers to capture food from field to fork.
Vlogs to follow soon, once I’ve mastered the art of digital video editing!
All images © Liz Ayling 2014
- 5 large eggs
- 3 tsps baking powder
- 300g unsalted butter, softened at room temp
- 200g caster sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 200g self-raising flour
- ½ orange, zest and juice
- I preferred using some whipped cream with creme fraiche and thick yoghurt, but feel free to use butter icing at 150g unsalted butter and 250g icing sugar.
- 100g raspberries or very ripe strawberries to crush in some of the icing
- 6 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
- 400g of berries of choice (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centrigrade and grease and line three, round spring-form or quick-release sandwich cake tins. I used silicon ones, unlined, with success.
- In a large bowl, whisk together til smooth and dropping consistency the eggs, butter, sugar, almonds, flour and juice of the half orange. If it’s a little on the stiff side, add a tbsp milk to loosen. Then stir in the finely-grated orange zest.
- Divide the mix evenly among the tins and bake for around 25-30 mins til lightly golden on top. Leave to cool upside down for 5 mins on a wire rack then release from the tin and leave to cool completely, covered with a clean tea cloth.
- Make the icing – either mixing up the cream/creme fraiche/yoghurt combo or make the butter icing. Set aside one third of the icing and then lightly crush some ripe raspberries or strawberries into the remaining two thirds.
- When the cake is completely cool, spread the underside of one sponge with some seedless raspberry jam. Then, spread it carefully with half the icing (portion with the crushed berries). Do the same to another sponge, then carefully arrange sponge 2 on sponge 1. If you like, add a few sliced berries on the visible edges of each layer.
- Take the final sponge and spread the top with the remaining one third icing (no berries portion). Place it carefully on your two-tiered sponge cake.
- Decoration: arrange the whole berries on the top of the cake, perhaps halving some firmer strawberries. If you are using fresh cream in the cake, chill it on the top shelf of the fridge, covered with a dome, until around 15 mins before serving. To serve, dust lightly with sieved icing sugar.
- Storing: This cake is best eaten on the day all in one go! So it’s ideal for group celebrations. But it does keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge if covered. Be aware that the fresh fruit may leach into the top icing layer and not look quite to pukka by day two though. When serving from chilled, the sponge will be a tad hard, so I advise getting it out a good 15 mins before serving to soften it a little.