Sunday, 24 June 2012

Vinegar Cake

Ros chose V for Alpha Bakes this month, oh my goodness! Other than Vanilla and Victoria sandwich, I wasn't having many ideas and although vanilla is fantastic, it's such a common ingredient in cakes, I wanted something a little different. I've seen Viennese whirls popping up all over the place which is a great idea, but again not quite what I was looking for. So I turned to trusty Pam Corbin in her wonderful book Cakes and there it was at the bottom of the V list, Vinegar Cake. Traditionally made when hens were off lay, this is an eggless fruit cake from East Anglia. I added a few ingredients not mentioned in Pam's recipe.

This is how I made it:
  • Placed 1 tbsp mesquite powder and 1 tbsp maca powder onto the scales than added white flour to make the weight up to 250g.
  • Sifted into a bowl along with 250g wholemeal flour and a pinch of salt.
  • Rubbed in 200g unsalted butter cut into bits, until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
  • Stirred in 500g dried fruit made up of sultanas, raisins, chopped dried apples, goji berries and crystallised orange peel (homemade).
  • Stirred in 50g chopped Maya Gold chocolate (G&B dark orange spiced).
  • Poured 300ml milk into a large bowl (didn't have a jug big enough) and added 50ml cider vinegar.
  • Stirred 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda into 1 tbsp milk.
  • Added this to the milk and watched in amazement as it frothed up and up and up!
  • Poured this onto the dry ingredients together with 2 tbsp golden syrup and mixed until just incorporated.
  • Spooned into a 23cm cake mould and smoothed the top.
  • Sprinkled 1 tbsp demerara sugar over the top and baked at 170C for 50 minutes.
  • Left to cool in mould for 20 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool almost completely - couldn't wait any longer!

Watching the milk and vinegar mixture whoosh up when the bicarb was added was impressive. It reminded me of one those school science lessons which probably no longer occur due to health and safety reasons. Whatever the underlying chemistry of it all, it seemed to work: the cake rose really well. Unfortunately, I took it out a little too soon, so it sank in the middle. Surprisingly, the taste of vinegar was noticeable by its absence. It had a lovely  crunchy top and would have been great served warm with clotted cream or ice-cream. I'm not a fan of heavy fruit cakes, but this was just about right, plenty of fruit but plenty of cake too. CT is also not a fan of heavy fruitcakes, which he associates with being dense, dry &amp and desiccated with bucket loads of horrible mixed peel. This one, he opined, was pleasantly fruity with an unexpected sort of spritliness about it. It had a nice soft crumb and tasted slightly malty which I put down to the mesquite I added. We both felt thoroughly virtuous eating this because of the healthful properties of the maca I had included.

Alpha Bakes is a monthly blogging challenge where a random letter is picked from the alphabet which then inspires the theme of the bake. It's hosted alternately by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.

48 comments:

  1. Ooh I love the idea of this cake!!! x

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    1. Thank you, It is a very tasty cake, though I say it myself ;-)

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  2. This sounds delicious! I'm beginning to realise there's a whole world of new cakes which will open up when my CT leaves home!

    Are you sure it's not the maca powder which made the cake 'sprightly'? I've just looked up what it is and one reference was for increased libido! LOL!

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    1. Oh Suelle, I nearly fell off my chair laughing, thank you so much for brightening up my morning :)

      Is your CT going to be leaving home soon?

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  3. No idea what mesquite or maca powder are, will have to look them up.

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    1. Well I like to keep you all guessing sometimes Janice ;-)

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  4. as janice said! BUT, just wanted to add, trust you to find a fruit cake with CHOCOLATE!!!

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    1. No, no Fiona, I didn't find a fruit cake with chocolate, that bit was all my idea :D

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  5. Say Whaaat? Vinegar cake sounds awesome - and could be a great standby for when my vegetarian-vegan-swinging sister-in-las stops by. I never know which side of the meat free knife she's on, so this is good for being better safe than sorry!

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    1. Thanks Juliet. Beware of vegan, it may have no eggs, but it does have butter, so you'd need to substitute with oil - don't see why that wouldn't work though.

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  6. OMG never heard vinegar cake...I should give it a try!! Happy Sunday

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    1. Manu, give it a try - it's worth it just for the whoosh!

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  7. mmm... I love a cake that is more pudding than cake... i've just made one in fact but never made anything like this with vinegar... sounds very 'make-do-and-mend' like the kind of thing done in the war... looks delicious!

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    1. Yes Dom, it does sound like a war cake, although I wonder what they'd have done about the goji berries ;-)

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  8. Never seen a cake quite like this before and filled with such an array of tasty and interesting ingredients. What is mesquite? I thought it was a smokey wood used in BBQ sauce, but am sure you didn't add wood chippings to the cake :)

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    1. Hi Katie, mesquite is a Mexican bush growing in the dessert that produces a bean. This can be used in baking as a part substitute for flour and provides a nutty, sweet almost butterscotch flavour. Strangely wood chips don't really do it for me ;-)

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  9. I've seen recipes for vinegar cakes in a number of old recipe books and I've often wondered what they'd be like but never got around to making one. It looks really good - and there's something very pleasing about a traditional fruit cake.

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    1. Phil, I'd love to have a browse around your recipe books, sounds as though you have some real gems there. I'd say it would be hard to tell there were no eggs in the cake - all very interesting.

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  10. I've wanted to make a vinegar cake but the name has always put me off. Seeing how lovely yours looks I will have to reconsider!

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    1. Oh don't let the name deter you CC, it's a fascinating process and I really couldn't taste the vinegar in this one.

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  11. Vinegar is definitely the most original 'V' I've seen! I went for the Viennese Whirls but then made a second bake with vodka! This looks great and I want to make it, mainly so I can get the bicarb to fizz up...simple things and all that!! :-)

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    1. Laura the fizz is really good fun and I reckon vodka is pretty original too :)

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  12. What an intriguing recipe! Mesquite powder-where did you find this??

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    1. Ahh, I stock up with all things weird and wonderful whenever I visit Totnes - Greenlife, it's a great store if ever you're passing that way. I think they have an online service too.

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  13. I had to look up mesquite powder and maca powder too! Thanks for entering this to AlphaBakes - a brilliant use of 'V'!! I'm pleased to hear that you can't taste the vinegar. Please send me a slice :)

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    1. Hehe Ros, I wouldn't have been best pleased if it had tasted strongly of vinegar - I am not a fan. Slice on it's way ;-)

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  14. This is definitely one for me to try...the chemical reaction of the fizzing replaces the need for the raising agent in eggs, of which I have a couple of recipes. Thanks for another! :-)

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    1. You're welcome Corrie, presumably, this would work with most cakes. It was certainly fun watching the fizzing process.

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  15. Vinegar cake...oh that sounds unusual...I've never heard of that one before...

    It's really good to hear about an eggless cake as I'm on the look out for vegan recipes at the moment and possibly I could substitute butter with coconut butter or olive oil...Haven't heard of Mesquite or maca powder I must do some research...

    Thanks for sharing this interesting recipe...
    Deb

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    1. Hi Deb. I've made a vegan chocolate cake before using balsamic vinegar, which was good. I've got a few vegan recipes on my site if you look at the vegan label down the side or do a search in the search box. Nonnettes are another eggless cake, which are one of my favourites at the moment, though have no idea how it would work with oil. this fruit cake would be fine with oil I'd have thought.

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  16. When I read the title I was slightly dubious about this cake, but it's only a small amount of vinegar and I think slightly undersells what looks like an absolutely gorgeous fruit cake. Definitely more exciting than vanilla!

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    1. Hehe, it's a great title - nothing more likely to put you off, well perhaps a few things, but you know what I mean ;-) But I liked the title, it makes you do a double take.

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  17. A very clever choice for your "v" entry and one I would jump at the chance to try. I adore vinegar and all sour sharp tastes. I know it would not be an obvious kick in this recipe but I am sure it adds another dimension and one which is novel to me!

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    1. Thanks Laura. I've made a vegan chocolate cake using balsamic vinegar which turned out well, but it didn't use the same method as this. Yes, I'm happy to go with the extra dimension - vinegar is a great ingredient to lots of things.

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  18. Replies
    1. Thanks Gloria - it's actually a surprisingly good fruit cake.

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  19. That looks great - I too had that one bookmarked for this challenge but ran out of time, and also had an excess of eggs - not a great cake to be baking when too many eggs are the problem!!! Good to know it's a nice light fruitcake - I'll try and remember to bake it next time I need cake and eggs are not forthcoming. It's always fun to see chemistry in action in baking isn't it - I keep meaning to make honeycomb for this reason alone!

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    1. Oh C, you mean it wasn't just me ;-) I had far more success with this fizzing up than I ever do with honeycomb, it was fun to watch.

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  20. I agree with the res never heard of vinegar cake but glad to see it has not eggs in it as I have been looking for eggless cakes and not found any yet - perfect timing!

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    1. Ahh cakeboule, this is a good tasty fruit cake, but do check out the nonnettes I've made. They are also eggless and are my favourite cake at the moment - I've done two different ones and both were delicious. I've also done a few vegan cakes which turned out well. If you're interested, you'll find them under the vegan tab down the side.

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  21. I've never heard a cake called vinegar cake but I have quite a few cake recipes with vinegar in them - as I understand it the vinegar balances the baking powder or helps it rise or something so it all makes sense when you understand the chemistry (which obviously I would fail if this were a school test) - and what fruit cake cannot be improved by chocolate - sounds lovely

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    1. Hi Johanna, yes it has a similar effect to yogurt being used with bicarb - it's the alkali reacting with the acid.

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  22. V is for very clever and interesting! well done on this. Cookign really is like chemistry!

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    1. Thank you, I like the sound of that V ;-)

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  23. Wow! I am going to give this a try... though I may have trouble sourcing mesquite. This looks fascinating - I can't wait to have a traditional English afternoon tea party. This would be a great addition.

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    1. Did you ever try it Wendy? The mesquite is my own addition and can quite happily be substituted with flour.

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  24. MMM love fruitcakes! Will try this one when my friend comes to stay as she has an egg allergy.

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    1. Thanks Lucy, it's always handy to have something up one's sleeve for such occasions.

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