Cakes for top marks

Sat, Jun 2, 2012, 01:00

Cake sales can be competitive affairs. EUNICE POWERhas some winning recipes that might even make it to the staff room

SO THE SCHOOL year is coming to an end, which can only mean that cake sale season is about to begin. I would love to tell you that baking to fundraise is a mere “any humble effort will do” affair, but don’t be fooled – you are being judged. The annual cake sale is an unspoken, ruthless competitive exhibition and over the years I have witnessed the super-organised mother arriving at the school gates, not only laden down with mouth-watering creations but with each of them presented in imaginative recycled containers. Be warned – if you planned on repackaging a shop-bought cake this year, think again – it could mar your credibility for life and tongues will wag.

Of course, there are rules of engagement when setting about your mission. You need to consider the do-ahead factor and packaging, not forgetting how much your cake will earn for the cause. Think commerce, think hard economics. I tend to favour traybakes as they can be sliced up and sold as individual pieces – hence they’re bigger earners.

One of my proudest cake sale moments was when my son announced that one of my cakes was auctioned in the staff room – surely the ultimate triumph for any competitive mother.

The recipes below can all be made the day before the sale.

Coffee and walnut traybake

As homemade cakes go, nothing can quite compare to coffee and walnut cake, with buttery coffee icing topped with crunchy walnuts. I have experimented with various types of coffee over the years and have come to the conclusion that instant coffee works best here.

280g caster sugar

280g soft butter, it is really important that it is soft

335g self raising flour

5 large eggs

60g roughly chopped walnuts

3 heaped dessert spoons of coffee dissolved in three dessert spoons of boiling water

Line a 23cmx32cm tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas 4. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. For the best flavour, it needs to be very strong. Allow to cool.

Sieve the self raising flour. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and pale in colour.Add the coffee, then add one egg, followed by one tablespoon of flour (to stop the mixture curdling). With each addition of egg, alternate adding flour. Fold in the walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. To check that the cake is cooked right through, pierce it with a skewer or knife, and it should come out without any sticky particles adhering to it. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, standing on a wire tray. When it has cooled spread the icing on the top and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Coffee icing

250g icing sugar

2 heaped tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

90g butter

80g walnuts, roughly chopped

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Take it off the heat and add the dissolved coffee and icing sugar. Stir well. Leave for a little while to cool until stiff enough to pour over the cake. Sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.

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