Saturday night I went out, quite unchaperoned, to a dinner. It’s funny, when you’re part of a couple, how easy it becomes to turn invitations down or accept them, perennially as part of a couple. Even if one of you can go. on Saturday, we didn’t have a babysitter and it only dawned on me after we’d turned it down that actually, one of us could go. I bagsied me and asked if me being solo would throw out numbers. It wouldn’t so I went. Although it’s more common to turn up unescorted (when you’re part of a long-standing couple) in London, here in the country it can cause eye brows to be raised. I gave my friend Kate a lift and we were introduced as “not a couple” thus quite ruining the introduction I had mischievously planned.
I brought, as a gift for my lovely hostess, Mary, a bottle of wine and one of my giant After Eight mints. I love being able to make my own after eights, not least because it gets me round my Nestle boycott. My children love my after eight mint, they call it ‘mint cake’ and were most put out that I was taking one out of the house.
I had a superb evening. Mary is a great cook with a great kitchen garden, who had channeled the spirit of Ottolenghi for the entire meal. But as I was driving, I didn’t drink. I never drink and drive. I might, at most, have a ‘finger of wine’ at the very beginning of an evening but mostly I don’t even do that. I would hate to have an accident and wonder if that thimbleful of wine had caused it.
But I did get home at 2am and woke up five hours later feeling hungover, although I wasn’t – just tired. By 5pm I was absolutely craving cramming something majorly carb-heavy into my mouth so I found a tile-sized piece of this cake in the freezer, defrosted it in the microwave, whipped up an approximation of the original frosting, using mascarpone, yoghurt, lemon zest, vanilla extract and icing sugar and piled it high on top. I ate it like a snake eats a small mammal, pausing for mere seconds, with head tilted back, as I fed it down my throat. Glorious.
Of course I felt sick immediately afterwards.
This is a Bill Granger recipe from Waitrose magazine. It appeared last summer. I made it and it was so good. I love a cream cheese frosting. But my children aren’t super keen and this makes quite a lot so when I make it I freeze the excess (without the frosting) and it freezes really well. If you think you will be freezing it remember to only make half/part of the frosting. Anyway here is the recipe.
For the cake
180g unsalted butter, softened
210ml sour cream
half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
330g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
375g plain flour
One and a half teaspoons of baking powder
For the frosting
250g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
250g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C. Take a tin of about 23cm by 33cm and line in baking paper. Mix the sour cream with the bicarb and set aside for five mins.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy then add the lemon zest and vanilla. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time then add the sour cream mixture.
Put the blueberries in another bowl and toss with a bit of the flour. Mix the rest of the flour and baking powder into the cake mixture and fold in until just mixed. Now add the blueberries and gently stir through. Spoon into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. A tester should come out clean the top will be a rich golden brown.
Leave it to cool then prepare the frosting by beating all the ingredients together with a fork or electric mixture. Spread over the top of the cake and go in head first.