Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The First Time cont'd (Part III)

Having spied a simple recipe for pound cake on the back of the box of Sunbeam sultanas while making the Rustic Apple Tart, I decided to try it one Thursday afternoon. A loves sultanas so I thought it would also be a nice snack for him to take to work the next day. I paid the corner bottle shop a visit for a bottle of white wine and was ready to start once I stepped back into the apartment. Not having any oranges on hand, I decided to tweak the recipe a little taking into account the ingredients I already had in the fridge.

Sultana Syrup Cake

½ cup Sunbeam Natural Sultanas
1¼ cup self-raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
80g butter, melted
½ cup milk
2 x 70g eggs, lightly beaten [As the eggs I had weighed approximately 59g each (as stated on the box), I compensated for the difference in liquid with slightly more milk and 10g more butter.]

For the syrup:
Juice and zest of 2 oranges [I used the zest and juice of 1 lemon and ¾ cup of orange juice from the packet instead]
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup white wine

1. Preheat the oven to 180'C and grease and line a 20cm loaf pan.
2. Place flour, sugar and sultanas in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, milk and eggs and mix until well combined. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes at 180'C.
3. To make the syrup, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for 5 minutes.
4. Carefully pour ¼ of the syrup over cake while cooling in tin. Leave to soak in and then repeat until ½ the syrup has soaked into the cake. Invert when cold and serve with the remaining syrup.

[As my syrup was quite liquidy to start with, I ended up gently boiling it for much longer and in three stages instead. I also found that it was easier for the cake to absorb the syrup when it was more liquid instead of when it had thickened in consistency. So I boiled it for 5 minutes first and spooned ¼ of the syrup over the cake. I then gently boiled it for a further 5 minutes and spooned another ¼ of the now-thicker syrup over the cake together with the zest, which left a nice shiny glaze. I then simmered the syrup for a further 3 minutes until it was the consistency of pouring honey and served it when cool with the sliced cake.]

No guesses as to where these 3 slices disappeared to!

It must have been sugar wonderland for A that week, coming home to dinner (sticky chicken wings, sweet potato cakes and cabbage braised in white wine & butter) AND yet another delicious treat. A loves sultanas so he was happily pattering around the kitchen in anticipation of having a slice after dinner, as well as sneaking a couple of bites while my back was turned. Well, all 3 slices in the picture above disappeared by the time we turned in for the night and I packed a further 2 slices, generously drizzled with the syrup, for A's mid-morning snack the next day**. If it's not apparent by now, A really loves his food!

The recipe was simple and quick, taking no longer than 15 minutes preparation and assembly time and the results were really delicious for something so simple. The only further tweak to the recipe above I would make would be to reduce the sugar in the syrup to ¼ cup and a little bit more and have equal proportions of the wine and lemon/orange juice at ½ cup each instead as the syrup turned out tooth-rottingly sweet. A slice or two made for a great afternoon treat the next day with a cup of Earl Grey tea and my latest book, Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking.

**A reported that the thought of not having every single bit of the cake to himself (his colleagues apparently likely to pinch bits and pieces of his cake once they hear the rustle of the foil according to him) was so distressing that he had smuggled them to the meeting room during a teleconference with a client and ate them in the course of the conversation. That gave me a good laugh!

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