This right here is the bake that very nearly didn’t happen. This cake is lucky be alive. Who knew that pistachios were so expensive? Or that Bake Off is for the middle class?! Seriously though I bought ten pounds worth of pistachios for this recipe, which is a lot to spend on nuts. And that was the absolute cheapest I could find them.
Fancy that, nearly being priced out of Bake Off! Luckily, pay day fell the week after AND I got a tax rebate so I could afford to live how the other half lives for just this once.
Aside from the great expense of the nuts, this cake was HARD. There are so many different elements that you need to get just right and spoiler alert: I did not get them just right. In fact this cake was a bit of a calamity and I would definitely have come last in the real techy chal. In fact I would go as far as saying I would have been out, had I even lasted this long.
It’s annoying because I did really try to follow the recipe to the letter. I’m notorious for getting recipes wrong, and I did get this a little bit wrong but it could definitely have been much worse. Perhaps I am just not cut out to make obscure nutty green cakes. So, here is the run down of my calamity cake.
Now, I have made marzipan before many times. Every year I make a Christmas cake for my family and most years I have made the marzipan from scratch. And I love marzipan so I always end up making myself feel sick by eating the leftovers.
But of course, this marzipan is DIFFERENT and HARDER. It’s made from, you guessed it…. pistachios. None of that almond rubbish, that’s old hat! Instead we’re going to try and grind pistachios in a food processor that is definitely not up to the task, because we can’t all afford a NUT GRINDER.
My food processor hated those nuts. All it did was beat them up a bit, causing a slow and painful death bake. The Nutri Ninja did a better job, but still a bit crap. I think it was supposed to end up mixed with the icing sugar in a nice dusty combination of two tasty things. Mine was lumpy and I’m pretty sure there were still some whole nuts in there.
This cake is apparently from the oldy times. How did they make that bloody marzipan in the oldy times when I can’t even do it in the modern times with my fancy kitchen machinery?!
I wasn’t emotionally ready to continue after the nut debacle, so I let the marzipan sit in the fridge overnight before I made the rest of the cake.
The sponge in this cake is a Genoise, which means it gets its rise from the air trapped from beating egg whites. It’s quite hard to make, but I have made Geniose sponges a few times before and never had any huge disasters so I figured this would probably be the one part that would be okay.
There was MORE grinding of nuts in the food processor. We already know how well that goes for me, so I won’t go through it all again. I don’t fancy reliving it a second time anyway.
I whisked the eggs and sugar up a good’un, then carefully folded in the flour/nut mixture and the melted butter. From what I could tell there was still a decent amount of air in there so I didn’t have a great fear when leaving my baby in the oven.
The cake came out long after the allotted 20 – 30 minutes because it just didn’t have any colour on the top. I later discovered when I took it out of the tin that it STILL wasn’t cooked. The middle was all gooey and as a result it wouldn’t cut into three bits. I tried putting it back in the oven for a bit, but now I can tell you from experience that does not work. Once the cake has cooled its destiny is sealed.
In the end I cut the thing in two and had done with it. The texture was all wrong but I guess that’s life.
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Making the Crème au Beurre
The disasters are surely over by now, yes? WRONG AGAIN.
This is where the spinach water comes in. You gonna boil up some spinach and squeeze it to make green. The green then colours the crème au beurre and the fondant. Simples yes? Nope. Not when you run out of spinach and therefore run out of green. I tried to use kale instead but here’s another pearl of wisdom: kale does not make green like spinach does.
I soldiered on anyway because at this point what else could I do? I mixed my tiny bit of green sugar to make a syrup. Oh, and there’s MORE nut grinding. OH and you have to whisk the eggs in your stand mixer that you obviously have in your middle class home, whilst pouring the syrup in a steady stream. Using my peasant electric hand whisk this was a bit harder but not impossible. Which I suppose sums up everything in life when you’re not rich.
Owing to my cake mishap there was only one layer of cream in the cake which meant it got to be really thick – always a delight!
The Final Assembly
Rolling out the marzipan was just perilous. It was sticky and kept trying to tear when I lifted it off the side. Using my excellent skills from years of doing things a bit wrong I managed to get it on the cake.
With the marzipan and fondant the cake looked actually kind of alright for the first time since it was just raw ingredients.
Despite all my calamities the cake tastes alright. There was a mixed verdict in my house but I think that was down to what the cake was rather than my baking.
Some people loved it and others really didn’t. I was on the fence, possibly because I witnessed all the mishaps so I knew exactly what was wrong with it. The sponge was too stodgy, owing to the underbakedness of it, and the cream was a bit sloppy. Overall it was alright though. I did have two slices so it can’t have been terrible (though cake is cake at the end of the day).
Not my best bake ever, but no one died so it could have been worse.