Croque Madame. Cheese and ham toastie topped with a fried egg. So good, so simple and what I had for dinner tonight, loving every not particularly healthy mouthful - with a generous serving of tomato ketchup on the side for dipping of course. I'll forgive any student jokes on this occasion because it was so utterly yummy and something I've been wanting to try for ages. Admitttedly the thought of no vegetables with my dinner caused too much guilt so I had a small salad with it but I ate it seperately so as not to ruin the main attraction. It was worth the wait. Sometimes a person ought to give into these desires and just enjoy what they fancy.
Something else I've been wanting to make for ages is a fruit cake. I don't know why and even now I've satisfied that desire, I still can't explain it.
Perhaps it was a memory of a certain cake I make at a certain time of year but I don't want to mention the word in the middle of June, the very same cake that I soak in rum and brandy then cover in marzipan and icing and everyone finds so delicious that it is a crying shame it only gets made once a year. It's such a good cake. If you find yourself in a similar situation, craving seasonal favourites but not not wanting to make to full blown affair, might I suggest this beauty as an alternative?
If you have managed to stay with me to this point, through the foul sounding title and my odd ramblings about my dinner then I know you are interested.
A supersoft crumb with an almost sugar crust type exterior holding a mixture of dried fruits and topped with a delightfully sticky marmalade glaze with soaks into the surface, marrying the caramel flavours hidden inside giving an affectionate reminder that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
It might be expected that the removal of the eggs would result in a dry cake, or one which gives up all of its pleasing attributes on day two but nothing could be farther from the truth. This is one of those recipes that keeps on improving. It's also mega easy to make too. Rub butter into flour, stir in fruit and sugar, quickly mix in the rest of the ingredients to get the magic started, into the tin and bake.
The necessities of war rationing meant that the eggs had to go and bakers had to rely on the chemical reaction between acidic vinegar and alkaline bicarbonate of soda to provide lift. Plus, it is one of those adaptable recipes which can be tailored to suit individual tastes (caster, soft brown, muscovado sugar instead of demerara) or to use up the almost finished packets of fruit gathering in the back of cupboards, those that all bakers confess to having at some point or another. War is always a bad time but one thing is for sure, British resourcefulness shone through and this must be one of the best culinary creations to come from such times.
A vintage recipe originating from the war era using vinnegar and bicarbonate soda as the raising agents in place of eggs. A lovely soft crumb and fully of flavour, this is perfect for using up ends of packets of various dried fruits.
- 175g butter, chilled
- 340g self-raising flour
- 175g demerara sugar
- 350g dried fruit - a mixture of your favourite tossed in 1heaped tbsp flour
- 175ml milk
- 25ml cider vinegar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 scoop marmalade thinned with a small splash of water
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease/line a 9" loose bottomed deep cake tin.2. Rub the butter into the flour, stir in the sugar followed by the fruit. 3. Mix the milk and vinegar then quickly stir in the bicarbonate of soda and very quickly pour into the dry ingredients, mix until evenly combined (it will be a fairly stiff mixture), transfer to the tin and level off.4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hr 15 mins, lowering the temperature as necessary, and covering the top with foil if it looks like it is browning to quickly. A cake tester inserted into the centre will come out clean when ready.5. Leave in the oven with it turned off for five mins then place on a wire rack and gently poke with a skewer to create fine holes. Heat the thinned marmalade in the microwave then spread over the top. Cool in the tin for 15 mins then remove and cool completely.
Recipe adapted from World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey
Recipe adapted from World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey
There are a few challenges this month that this Vinegar Cake recipe would be perfect for. The dried fruit makes it suitable for the chosen letter of D for Alphabakes, hosted this month by Caroline from Caroline Makes, alternatively with Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker.
Ness from JibberJabber UK has set the theme of Love Cake this month as Vintage Cakes. It took me a while to choose from a long list I had gathereed but my eventual choice of a wartime recipe fits the bill nicely.
Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Foof for Families is hosting the No Waste Food Challenge on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary this month. I finished off the sultanas, raisins, cranberries and glace cherries in my mum's cupboard to form the mix for this cake which had been opened for a while. It is a perfect base for using up whatver fruit you have to hand and fits in with the wartime ethics too of using what was available.
I was tempted to add chocolate chips to the mix as well but I helf off on this occasion. If you want proof that chocolate in fruit cake is a god idea then check out this post here (still not mentioning that word!)