When you serve up a meal to family and friends or smuggly produce a freshly baked cake for unexpected visitors, do you search for facial expressions of pleasure? Or do you listen carefully for little sounds of approval? Or do you just ask straight out for the opinion?
I kinda do all three and in that order too. Even though I know I can hold my own in the kitchen – the mam thought us all well. She made sure we would at the very least be able to combine a few ingredients to dish up a good healthy meal when the time came for us all to leave the nest and fend for ourselves… and eventually our own small ones.
But I still get to have those anxious butterflyish moments, especially now when writing up a recipe to share. You see firstly, I don’t test my bakes one hundred times over and once more. I tend to work out the maths on paper with a mood board of how I want it to look – always the designer – before, ever gathering ingredients and would often alter mid-preparation. Then eagerly and hopefully await a good outcome. And if it tastes great and it looks great I’ll photograph, share and let you decide.
Secondly, I just love cake… all shapes, makes, flavours and combinations so I sometimes wonder am I being critical enough. I guess the more I look for positive approval from others, the more I can rest easy and trust my own instincts and taste buds. And believe me when I say, the hubby and small one are usually the most honest of all my testers and luckily nearly always hovering close by when they get the smell of baking.
This cake, I baked for my friend who arrived with her two small ones in tow after a long overdue visit. And as we drank cup upon cup of tea and sampled the cake, her two and my small one played about noisily but happily. We spent that afternoon catching up on time past in between mouthfuls of clementine sponge cake. And this time I didn’t need to search for facial expressions of relish or sounds of satisfaction – the rapidly emptying plate was proof enough.
Upside down clementine sponge cake
Serves 8-10 • Baking time: Approx 45-50 minutes
2 tablespoons muscavdo sugar
1 tablespoon water
35g pecan nuts crushed
For the sponge
100g castor sugar
75g soft light brown sugar
175g soft butter
2 tablespoons chocolate hazelnut spread
175g self raising flour
1. Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas 6/180c(fan). Grease and line a 24cm spring form tin.
2. Peel the clementines and break the segments into a saucepan along with the muscavdo sugar and water. Mix together, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Arrange the clementines in the bottom of the prepared tin, sprinkle with pecan nuts making sure to cover all areas. Drizzle over any remaining syrup from the saucepan.
3. Beat the sugars, butter and chocolate hazelnut spread together in a bowl until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Quickly beat in the flour.
4. Pour the batter into the tin on top of the clementines and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is coming away from the sides or a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
5. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then gently loosen the bottom of the tin and transfer it carefully to a wire tray.