A few days ago I mentioned that I’d bought the Marian Keyes baking book, ‘Saved by Cake’.

The thing is, I don’t necessarily buy cook books with any realistic intention to use them for the purposes of making food. I read them as a hobby, particularly if they’re written by people like Nigella Lawson (and now Marian).

Despite my reluctance to actually follow recipes, I decided today that I would attempt the first recipe in this book: rock cakes. I used to like baking, but I’ve had a series of culinary failures in recent months and suspect that my oven is a bit screwed up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But I figured that Marian’s recipes were designed to be easy, particularly for those who might feel a little fragile. I decided to give it a go.

This is what rock cakes look like in Marian’s book:

But mine… well, let’s just say that things didn’t go my way. My alarm bells started ringing when Marian told me that, after rubbing butter into self-raising flour in baking powder, the mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. Mine didn’t: it seemed to have too much butter (and I SWEAR that I followed the recipe to the letter). And the recipe said to bake the rock cakes for 15 – 20 minutes at 200C. I could smell mine baking after ten minutes and, upon checking them, realised that things weren’t going well. I took them out after 15 minutes and they looked like this:

Too much butter, right? They just didn’t rise at all. And my stupid oven singed half of them, making me believe that it’s at least 25C hotter than it pretends to be. And these stupid pancake rock cakes didn’t even taste all that good – I ate two and chucked the rest.

I think I’ll stick to no-bake tray treats for the foreseeable future.

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6 thoughts on “14/03/2012

  1. Buy an oven thermometer. They aren’t expensive and you at least know it’s the correct temperature. As for the butter, that’s a whole different problem!! Good luck!

  2. I love that you ate two of them before deciding they were yucky. Had to be sure, haha. Marian’s don’t even look good. I reckon you should try a different recipe from her book and try it at a significantly lower temp than recommended. Make sure your oven’s on bake, not fan bake.

    1. My oven doesn’t give me any fancy setting options for the lower section: it’s either ‘on’ or ‘off’. I might try the upper section again and just wear earmuffs while cooking, like I’m an air traffic controller.

      And yes, the first one could have been a rogue duff one, so I had to eat two, to make sure!

  3. I second the oven thermometer suggestion. I also saw something on Pinterest the other day that I’m going to do in my next house. They put a baking sheet in the oven covered with 6 slices of white bread for (guessing here, will track down the tip for you if you like) a couple of minutes. The purpose is to see if your oven has any hot spots by the way the toast comes out cooked.

    Also, re the rock cakes and rubbing the butter and flour: the butter has to be fridge cold and you need to make sure your fingers don’t touch it too much: keep a layer of flour between the butter and fingers. Else wise the butter will melt rather than rub, and that’ll make the bikkies flat. In my home ec class, my teacher talked about having ‘hot hands’ which can make the butter melt, so we would occasionally wash our hands mid-rub with cold water to cool them down: you had to then scrupulously wipe them dry, else sticky fingers.

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