Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Crowd pleasers

I had to give a lab meeting talk last Friday, which is never fun, but my usual strategy to help me get a smooth ride is to bake a lot of cake and hope that my audience is too busy choosing what to eat next to think up tricky questions for me or spot mistakes in my figures. No pics this time I’m afraid but here are the recipes for my top two easily-feed-lots-of-people-at-a-gathering.

The first is a traybake. Something miraculous happens when you use a roasting tin instead of the traditional round tins, you are suddenly able to feed an awful lot of people using the same amount of cake mixture one would normally make an 8in sandwich with. It’s the only choice when numbers of mouths are high and time is short, and there are endless variations to the basic sponge recipe. It’s also amazing how changing the shape of the slices you cut from it can give an entirely different feel to the end product. I like to do lemon cakes and marble cakes by slicing the traybake in half lengthways and then into 1/2in thick fingers – of which you can squeeze 24 out of a single traybake. For coffee and walnut or carrot cakes I tend to cut them into squares instead. I don’t know why, that’s just what seems right!

Aside from a plain sponge, lemon cake is just about the quickest traybake of all: I made this one on Thursday morning whilst having my breakfast, and it was out of the oven in time for me to head off to work.

Crunchy top lemon traybake

225g self raising flour
225g margarine
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
2tsp baking powder
4tbsp milk
grated rind of 2 lemons

for the topping:
juice of 1 lemon
100g granulated sugar

Beat all the cake ingredients together and pour into a greased and base lined 30cm (I think!) tray. Bake at 180C for 35-40min.
Whilst the cake is cooking, mix the topping ingredients together. When the cake comes out of the oven, pierce all over with a skewer and pour over the topping. Allow to cool in the tray.

My second recipe is another good one for feeding lots of people, but also good if you need the baked goods on a day when you’re too busy to bake because these cookies keep really well. I might even go as far as saying that they are actually better a day or two after being made, because I like them when they’re a bit soft and chewy. Makes 27-30 large cookies…

Double choc monster cookies

200g plain flour
55g cocoa
1tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
200g milk chocolate, 140g dark chocolate
340g light brown sugar
150g unsalted butter
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
Milk and/or white choc chips

Melt the chocolate over simmering water and set aside to cool slightly. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Beat in the vanilla and melted chocolate, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Sift in the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder (and some choc chips if you like). Beat until well combined.
Dollop 2 heaped tbsp lumps of the mixture onto baking sheets leaving space for them to spread out, and cook at 180C for around 18mins. Allow to cool for 5-6 mins before transferring to a rack to cool (they’ll be soft when they come out the oven and will harden up as they cool).

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

Gosh, how handy! I had lemon cake like this at a coffee morning a couple of weeks ago, but I don't have a recipe for it, and need more. Thanks very much for posting it here.