Monday, 8 April 2013

You are a Pirate!

If asked the ultimate question 'Pirate or Ninja', I would always go for ninja. Jussayin'. I'd also go as far as to make a guilty confession that when the day comes that I am to be married I will not budge over my wish to have a fancy dress wedding where I would be dressed as a pirate. I was a kid when I saw 'The Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl' in the cinema, and I was converted there and then... (although I did go out with a ninja; pirates are in short supply these days).

Okay, I have a confession: I'm a sucker for all things cute. I love cute things, small things, tacky things, kitch things; you name it, if it's ridiculous I'll probably like it. As for what that has to do with baking, well, let me tell you. I was in my local neighbourhood Dealz and I found a kit for making pirate cakes: it came with 24 pirate cake cases, and 24 little Jolly Roger cake decorations. Before I knew it, I had bought them... as if by magic.

I then began to ponder, what does a pirate cake taste like? What do pirates eat, or what kind of flavours would one associate with a pirate? I did a little brainstorm: pirates -> boats -> sunny places -> Caribbean -> bananas -> coconuts -> limes -> rum -> cane sugar -> spices. So much to work with!

In all honesty, I don't like bananas; I like banana bread, but that's about it, so bananas were off the list. I had made coconut and lime fairy cakes in the past, inspired by a cookery book I was given by an acquaintance for Christmas two or three years ago, and that was a delicious combination; but I didn't have the ingredients to make coconut cakes or icing. After some thought, I settled on rum and brown sugar cakes with lime buttercream icing, and they were the shizz.

(I apologise for the quality of the photos: I didn't have my trusty blur-banishing tripod with me, so I had to rely on my shaky hands.)

Following the same technique as outlined in my basic sponge cake post, I used this recipe:

  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) spelt flour
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) cornflour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) soft brown sugar instead of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum essence (available from the Home Baking aisle of the supermarket) instead of vanilla essence
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) butter or block margarine
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) sunflower oil

I also made a basic buttercream using this recipe:
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) icing sugar, sifted
  • Rind of 1 whole lime
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 - 2 drops each of green and yellow food colouring (I used the liquid kind)

As you can see, it's a normal sponge but I replaced all the caster sugar with soft, dark brown sugar, and added a teaspoon of rum essence with the vanilla essence. This was a little bit of an experimental guess, and although the cakes where quite nice, I wouldn't choose to make them again. The icing was the best bit, being made with shed-loads of lime juice and lime rind; in the process of beating the icing together, the green colour from the rind mildly coloured the buttercream. It didn't colour it enough for me, though: I added a few drops of green and a few drops of yellow to get the perfect limey green.

But my adventures with the pirate cases didn't stop there. A friend was visiting from Roscommon (of all places) and as an afternoon activity we made some pirate cakes for my brother, who was feeling ill. These were just vanilla cakes with raspberry icing, but in true Mr Freeze style I coloured the raspberry icing luminous blue. Why are raspberry flavoured sweets and lollies always coloured blue, I wonder...?

The dragon-smiley faced one in the middle was designed by my visiting friend. It's definitely the coolest one there.

And have a gratuitous shot of the inside of the cake... just for me to show off my fantastic taste in butter-flavoured sandwich spread, and whatever that is next to it on the work surface.

Hopefully the next time I get an inch for pirate cakes, I'll have the right ingredients to make coconut cakes and lime buttercream. Trust me, it's one of the nicest combinations there is for a cake. Don't forget to toast a handful of desiccated coconut in a frying pan or wok to sprinkle on top, because it's very yummy.

Here's some trivia for the day: desiccated coconut in German is kokosraspel. Lidl has taught me something today; and I'm not sponsored by Lidl, I promise.

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