One of the concerns I faced when I started this blog was what to do about recipes that I tried from other blogs. Just writing about recipes from some other blog seemed lame. Besides, not all recipes I try are superhits, so why write about something that did not turn out quite well. However, there are those things that I like a lot and sometimes make repeatedly, making them nearly my own. They surely deserve a mention, if only to spread the good word around. One of them is this simple cake from Shyamala's blog.
The first time I made it, it was perfect just the way it is in her recipe. The second time around, I did not have any lemon or lime around, so I used a tablespoon of yogurt instead, which is also acidic, and it was also lovely. Another time, I doubled the recipe, and used a 9-inch round pan, and used half candied cherries and half nuts. It was just as forgiving, and seen in the picture on the right. My most recent version had no nuts, but just some tutti fruiti that I had bought in India. In India, 'tutti fruiti' is synonymous with brilliantly multi-colored candied fruit pieces, of questionable ingredients but delightful taste. I wonder if it even has any fruit in it. It is also the name of an icecream that was very popular when I was growing up, but haven't heard much about recently. I sprinked these on top of the batter after it was poured into the pan. When it baked, the batter rose up around the chunks, which got embedded into it. I think this one has to be my most favorite version.
Since I know lots of people who do not eat eggs, this is a very good recipe to have on hand. And because it lends itself to such versatility, I am thinking of other variations too. Like orange zest and orange juice instead of lime, or cinnamon and raisins instead of vanilla and nuts, or tutti fruiti again, with rose instead of vanilla. Don't they sound good? I think honey could also be a subsitute for the maple syrup. I am also going to try to reduce the amount of leavening agents, and will update the blog with how that goes.
The best part about this cake is that it is really easy to make, and does not need any special equipment, other than a baking pan, and a whisk, which makes it great for novice bakers. It takes less than an hour from start to finish, but it is the time spent after that, waiting for it to cool that is the most difficult. So plan to go for a walk at that time, to avoid the temptation to dig in.
Here it is, for reference, with a few changes and notes.
Basic Eggless Cake
1-1/2 cups of cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime, about 1-1/2 tablespoons
1/2 cup milk
Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)
Grease an 8" square baking pan. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pecans thoroughly.
Mix all the remaining wet ingredients together with a whisk or hand held mixer, and stir it into the dry mixture until there are no lumps.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick in the centre to see if it comes out clean. Loosen the edges slightly by moving a knife between the cake and pan.
Let it cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes, and only then turn it out onto a wire rack.
Dust it with confectioners sugar if you wish.
It is slighter dry and not very sweet, unlike the sweet, moist cakes that are more common in America. It is however relatively low in fat content, considering that there is no frosting, and that the above cake easily makes about 16 medium servings. Cake flour is not always available easily, but look for it just before a major holiday. I suppose one could use all purpose flour too.
Finally, Shyamala, you don't know me, but thanks a lot!