Gold And Silver Cakes

by Sam Bilton on August 8, 2016 No comments

Silver & Gold Cakes 1 M Allen

I came across a book by Mary L. Allen called Five O’clock Tea whilst researching a blog post for English Heritage. It was originally published in 1887 in response to the popular habit of taking tea in the afternoon and contains recipes for “cakes every description, savoury sandwiches, cooling drinks etc”. Whilst it doesn’t specify that these cakes should be served at the same time, it seems likely that they would have been given that one recipe uses egg whites and the other only egg yolks. Afternoon Tea Week begins today so what better way to celebrate it than with these cakes. They would also make a great addition to a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research next month.

Victorian Tea Pot

Gold Cake

The original recipe relies on turmeric and egg yolks to give this cake it’s golden hue. Another notable difference from a modern cake recipe is the scant amount of raising agent used (just a quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda). Milk soured with vinegar was also used presumably to improve the raising properties of the cake. Given the cake’s luxurious title, I have decided to flavour it gently with saffron and cardamom. I have also increased the raising agent and used buttermilk instead of vinegar and milk. 

Gold Cake with Cinnamon & Cardamom

Ingredients

  • Juice of one lemon
  • Pinch of saffron (or ⅛ tsp ground turmeric if you prefer)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks (if you prefer you can substitute these with one large whole egg and one large egg yolk)
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 150g buttermilk

Icing

  • A few saffron stamens (or ⅛ tsp ground turmeric if you prefer)
  • 1½ tbsp boiling water
  • 225g icing sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Method

  1. Gently heat the lemon juice in a microwaveable bowl (say for around 10 seconds). Add the saffron and orange orange zest and leave to infuse while you make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line and 18cm square tin or 20cm deep, springform round tin (I think the latter is best but both will work).
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then add the egg yolks one at a time until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ground cardamon together then gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar.
  4. Add the buttermilk followed by the infused lemon juice and mix thoroughly to combine.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes if using a square tin of 30 to 35 minutes if using a round tin. A skewer should come out clean when inserted into the baked cake. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing soak the saffron stamens in the boiling water. Place the icing sugar in a food processor with the lemon juice and the infused water. Blitz to combine adding more water if necessary. Spread over a cake. You can decorate the cake with marigold petals or perhaps some edible gold glitter if desired.

Silver cake

The only amendment I have made to the original recipe is the inclusion of ground almonds to enhance the moistness of the cake as it contains very little fat. Egg whites are used as the raising agent which was common practice before commercial baking powder became widely available (have faith – they are very effective!).

Silver & Gold Cakes 2 M AllenSilver & Gold Cakes 2 M Allen

Ingredients

  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour, sieved
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ tsp almond extract

Icing

  • 225g icing sugar
  • 1½ tbsp boiling water plus more if required
  • ½ tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • Silver balls or flaked almonds to garnish

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line and 18cm square tin.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the flour followed by the ground almonds.
  3. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks then fold into the cake mix. Finally, add the almond extract.
  4. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for around 20-25 minutes. A skewer should come out clean when inserted into the baked cake. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the icing place the icing sugar in a food processor with the boiling water and vanilla or almond extract. Blitz to combine adding more water if necessary (it should be spreadable but not too runny). Spread over a cake. You can decorate the cake with silver balls or toasted, flaked almonds if desired. Cut into squares before serving.
Sam BiltonGold And Silver Cakes

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