The older I unfortunately get, the plainer I like my cake. When I was young I can remember the absolute wonder of a Knickerbocker Glory or the plaintive and desperate desire for as many toppings as humanly possible on my bowl of ice-cream. But those days are long gone. Perhaps it is a sign of an ageing stomach lining unable to cope with the complex digestion required, or perhaps it is the inner wisdom of age, an analogy for life. Whatever the reason, I find that often it is a Madeira Cake that occupies my thoughts where once it was a Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake or Maple and Walnut Layer Cake with enough frosting to swim in or at least get up your nose. I fantasize about this plain Jane cake warm with double cream and a big spoonful of cinnamon stewed fruit. I fantasize about a large, fat slice of it with coffee for breakfast. In both of these fantasy scenarios I am alone and naked.... completely joking about the naked bit, it would put me or anyone else right off (most foolhardy anyway with all that stewed fruit about). But I am deadly serious about the fantasizing. Give me a pair of big, comfortable pants, fluffy socks and a silent house and this is where boundless pleasure lies nowadays. A stolen moment of simple deliciousness and indulgence that I must pay for in carrot sticks and no carbs. Finding solace in silence, stewed fruit and plain cake both leaves me feeling ancient as well as deeply satisfied. It may also suggest that already I am beginning to have a problem with my teeth. Perhaps I should just embrace it all......."Pass me the tinned potatoes Margaret.......oh and that nice bit of cake".......
Madeira Cake-serves 8-10 people
200 grams caster sugar
250 grams self raising flour
1 tbsp lemon extract or the zest and juice of one lemon
200 grams butter
4 medium eggs
Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote
400 grams rhubarb trimmed into 1" chunks
400 grams strawberries washed and cut in half
100 grams caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1-Pre- heat your oven to 170 C.
2-Line a non stick 8" cake tin.I use a spring-form loose bottomed tin about 6 cm deep.
A standard one layer cake tin will not be deep enough. I use silicon baking cake tin
liners as you can wash and use again, otherwise grease and dust the tin with flour.
3-Using a free standing mixer if possible as it is soooo much easier. Beat the butter
and sugar together. You can use an electric hand whisk to do the same.
4-Add the eggs one at a time as well as the lemon extract. If the mixture curdles then
add a tbsp of your measured flour. Add the flour on slow speed to avoid clouds of
flour everywhere and increase to a medium speed to mix together well.
5-Scrape out the mixture into your cake tin and bake for about 1 hour. Check after 50
minutes, make sure you don't over bake as it can become dry. Leave for ten mins to
cool in the tin before turning out completely to cool on a wire rack. Be careful to place
cake to cool on the flat side ( the bottom ) to avoid it splitting if the top is domed.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote-Method
1-Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a bubble. Mash the fruit with
a potato masher to just help it break up a little as it cooks. Simmer until cooked through
and taste for sweetness. I like it this tart but it may be too tart for some.
2-Apply to wise and wrinkled face.
This will keep in the fridge for at least a week. I also make the same amount for a crumble.
It is absolutely divine this stuff. Feel free to substitute ginger instead of cinnamon.
Whatever floats your boat.