I have a very important question. Can cake have a soundtrack?
I was listening to my trusty car radio this morning and had the thought – this song goes perfectly with the carrot cake I made. That’s weird, right? I know, I know, I don’t even need to ask. It is weird. But still. Muse on it a moment. Cake and music pairings….let the idea macerate…. Is it not just a teeny bit….genius?!
For me cake is utterly sensual, an unnecessary (but oh-so-neccessary) delight. I love all the sensory pleasures of cake. The smell of it when warm, the bounce back from the press of your fingertips, the icing smooth and cool against your throat. You don’t need cake to survive but life is So Damn Good with it in it. Cake is celebration, cake is feasting, cake is heaven. Cake is those first weeks of falling in love – delicious, giddy, unreal, sublime. Cake, let’s be honest, is emotional. So the idea of pairing cakes with (soaring, searing, smile-inducing, tear-jerking, head-nodding, heart-warming) songs makes absolute perfect crazy sense to me.
Today I have two cakes + tunes* for you, because one is treat enough but two is TWO times the treat-ness [I’ve always been a maths whizz] and in the world of cakes more is more is more. Plus both these cakes are perfect for both hemispheres right now. They are what you might call ‘Tween Seasons cakes. Sweet but not so much that your fillings start voluntarily dropping out, just enough spice included and built on a foundation of earth’s bounty (carrots / apples). Which makes eating them sort of like saying a prayer to Mother Nature / God / your version of divinity, in my opinion. Cakes for eating when the fall / spring sun ducks behind a cloud and your cup of tea needs a little company. They are daytime cakes to be shared with friends; cakes that work as ideal substitutes for cuddles (as opposed to those bold, luscious chocolate numbers which are more like substitutes for glorious, frenzied french kisses smooshed up against a wall in dim light)
The first cake – Apple, Rosemary and Olive Oil Cake – is from Lily Vanilli‘s beautiful cookbook “Sweet Tooth” and uses rosemary, which I could probably export my garden grows so much of it. I’m not sure I’m allowed to reproduce the recipe and I wouldn’t want to because you really should beg, steal or borrow a copy of the book. It’s chock-full of awesome cake, biscuit, pastry and meringue recipes and the cover is spearmint and the edges of the pages are hot pink. It’s all sweets all the time, which is really the
best only kind of cookbook, and has lots of authentically yummy gluten-free and dairy-free options. But, hold your whisks, I did find a link to the cake recipe so here it is! Ta-da! I used organic granny smith (green) apples because we don’t really grow bramley apples here and the granny smiths worked perfectly because they have a good sweet-sour ratio.
The second cake in today’s double-whammy cake-suckerpunch is Carrot Cake with Clementine Mascarpone Icing. It’s an adaptation from a recipe by Jamie Oliver (who uses lime in his mascarpone) but you could sub in almost any other citrus for your cake icing depending on what’s in your fruit bowl. I have used lemons before, which my Mum had grown and given to me, but this time ’round I used clementine mandarins, which were also a gift. My philosophy is that when you use a gifted ingredient you should gift part of the results so this cake is for sharesies.
250grams unsalted butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
5 large free-range / organic eggs, whites and yolks separated
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ground almonds
4 ounces / approx 50 x half walnuts, shelled and roughly chopped (plus handful for decorating)
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 x medium carrots or 6 x small carrots (see picture below for guide – med-large on the left, small on the right), peeled and coarsely grated
For citrus mascarpone icing
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup full fat cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
zest and juice of one large clementine (or two limes or one medium lemon or half an orange, you get the idea…)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius / 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and line an 8 inch spring-form round cake tin.
Beat butter and sugar together till pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time and add orange juice and zest.
Stir in sifted flour and baking powder, then add ground almonds, walnuts, spices and grated carrot. Mix together well.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff. Then fold gently into cake mix.
Sccop the batter into the prepared cake tin and cook in a preheated oven for about 50 minutes until golden and risen.
Test with a skewer and if the skewer comes out clean you’re good to go.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a rack for about an hour before icing.
To ice simply mix all the icing ingredients together and spread generously on top of the cake. Decorate with walnuts, rosemary, edible flowers etc.
*Pair your Carrot Cake with Clementine Mascarpone Icing with Today is gonna be mine by Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra (song originally by David Kilgour) or Bluebell, Cockleshell, 123 by King Creosote
Do you have happy food + music memories? Certain songs that remind you of favourite meals? What’s your verdict on cake + tunes pairings? Madness or genius?