10 December, 2011

Operation Domestic Goddess : Snow-Topped Spice Cake... Sort Of

You know that song lyric "You don't know what you got til it's gone"?  After this week's baking project I felt that truer words were ne'er sung.  In the States I had a standing mixer.  In London I don't.  Usually it doesn't matter, but this week's bake, the "Snow-Topped Spice Cake," required beaten egg whites.  Lots of egg whites, beaten until they formed those "stiff peaks." These airy peaks would be the only things preventing the batter from transforming into a spiced hockey puck rather than a dreamily moist sponge cake.  With not even a hand-held mixer, my only option was to grab a whisk and get after it the old-fashioned way.  The way my great-grandmother must have done it.  My great-grandmother must have had killer arms.

I literally, shamefully, broke a sweat trying to reach that danged "stiff peaks" stage.  I stopped to give myself short breaks.  I shook out my wrist.  I tried switching hands but ambidexterity is a gift God apparently did not give me.  After what I think was half an hour, I was tantalizingly close but the eggs were refusing to become anything beyond a very thick foam.  I knew I was committing a baking sin, but I was past caring; I went ahead and folded in my inadequate egg whites and put the cake in the oven.  The result tasted fantastic -- an incredible dark gingerbread -- but, predictably, it barely rose at all.

Maverick that I am, I made another decision to deviate from Nigella's game plan.  Her cake is baked in a bundt pan and then topped with royal icing (knowing Nigella, this was probably solely so that she could work "snow" into the title).  Mine was too dense and thin to be enjoyed as a cake, but it still tasted wonderful...I realized it would make a delectable bread pudding!  And as I stood in the kitchen contemplating my course of action, I noticed some tart Bramley apples that need to be used up before we go home for the holidays.  Apple pairs so well with gingerbread spices, so I decided to try making a spiced apple compote.

I am so happy with the results!  Bread pudding is already the ultimate comfort food, but the dark, dense gingerbread spices take it to a new level of wonderful.  The apple compote adds the perfect note of sweetness, brightening up the dish just a bit.  The only thing I would add to this dish if I were to make it again would be some dark chocolate chips!

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