My not so fancy Fancy Cake

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you’re reading this while stuffing your face with a chocolate egg or some other type of sugary deliciousness.

I was hoping to get up early this morning and start the Easter break by baking cinnamon rolls – they’re kind of Eastery and also happen to my husband’s favourite. True to form, I did not get up early and (even truer to form) discovered that I do have the required ingredients for  making cinnamon rolls.

It’s been almost a week since my brioche tin arrived via Amazon prime, so in the absence of any Easter baking here’s the story of my ‘fancy’ cake making.

Well, this is not so much a fancy cake as a plain one that looks partyish.

This is what it says at the start of the recipe. I’m going to tell you right now that my attempt was the exact opposite; it looked like crap but tasted absolutely freaking delightful.

Light, fluffy, delicately sweet and lemony, my not very fancy-looking fancy cake turned out to be my most winning disaster yet.

So what went wrong?

Firstly, I misread the recipe. I know, I can’t believe it either. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. I’m making a promise to myself, right here and now, that from this point forward I will always read the recipe first. I will read it properly, absorbing Nigella’s sage advice and vow not to skim-read while doing a multitude of other things.

On this particular occasion, my skim-reading of the recipe left me with the understanding that I needed only the whites of six eggs and not the yolks. Surely, logic would dictate that just using egg whites wouldn’t make a very nice cake, but then I’m not a very logical person so it completely passed me by.

Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to use up the egg whites that have been sitting in my freezer since my sauce-making escapades.

I sat my freezer bags of egg whites in a dish of cold water to thaw as I set about buttering the brioche pan and weighing out the other ingredients.

Then I discovered, having started to read the recipe properly, that I would indeed need the yolks as well. I separated six new eggs and decided I’d use the defrosted whites to make some sort of epic pavlova later.

Making the cake mixture was actually rather uneventful and, despite the frozen egg white mix-up, I thought my fancy cake making would be disaster free.

The only issue was with my brioche pan. Nigella said it should be a standard size with a 1.5 litre capacity. I had (unsurprisingly) neglected to check the capacity of my pan before ordering it, and subsequently had no idea what it was.

‘Why don’t you see if it holds 1.5 litres of water?’ My husband suggested.

‘Great idea,’ I said. And did just that.

It held just over 1 litre of water.

I decided that there was was no way the pan would hold all the mixture.

But I poured it all in anyway, just to check.

While the pan did hold most of the mixture, it was very full and I feared potential overflow/eruption on baking.

For a second I debated whether to just risk it – stick it in the oven and hope for the best.

Then I envisaged it bubbling over the edges of the pan and getting really mad at myself for foolishly hoping for the best. So I poured some of the mixture out, leaving snail trails of cake mixture up the sides of the pan.

Into the oven it went on 140°C (yes, I finally figured out that the the oven temperatures in HtE are for conventional and not fan assisted ovens).

I took it out after about an hour and five minutes and it had not risen much, so I probably could have got away with putting the whole mixture in after all.

What’s more, because of the snail trails caused by my indecisiveness/pouring out the mixture, the cake didn’t exactly slide neatly out of the pan. Instead I had to jostle it out and the thin trails of cooked mixture made it stick like glue to the sides. 

Eventually I managed to extract it and it looked a complete mess. It was quite literally rough around the edges – to the point where a couple of the edges just fell off.

My attempt at Nigella’s simple cake that looks partyish, tasted sophisticated but looked like a hangover.

Needless to say, I’ll be making this cake again very soon, if only because I later opened up the recycling bin to discover the brioche pan box sitting on top – and clearly marked with its capacity of 1.5 litres.

I don’t know why I never considered checking the box in the first place.

If you’re wondering what happened to the defrosted egg whites/epic pavlova, I am sorry to say this didn’t end well either. Once I emptied the whites into a dish, I discovered they had become a little  (extremely) waterlogged from sitting in a dish of cold water, which made them good for, well, nothing really.

Main takeaways?

Read the damn recipe. 


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