So I’ve tried, I’ve really tried and yet, despite a couple of successes, my foray into the Hummingbird Bakery has been a complete disaster! I like to think that I’m a capable baker but I can’t take the disappointments anymore and there have been many.
My cupcakes have either sunk, come out rock hard and crispy, overflowed or over cooked. My cakes have had to be whisked from the oven half way through the recommended cooking time because they were done and my slices/brownies needed even less than half the time! I’m sure some people have enormous luck with this book and I am seriously envious but I haven’t and judging by the reviews on Amazon.co.uk, other people agree.
Latterly, I’ve had some success, on a pre-ordered batch of cupcakes, with swapping the amounts of sugar and flour around – this does seem to prevent the over crusty, sagging cupcakes that were becoming the norm in my kitchen! And it’s so disheartening when something goes wrong in the kitchen. It really rocks your sense of inner domestic queen when you can’t even produce a simple cupcake. But then, judging by what friends say and by the comments section on Amazon, this shakes a lot of us and makes us question if we can cook or not… I have read peoples’ opinions of this book and while the combinations of flavours and icing are definitely inspiring, I agree with the people who say that the recipes appear to be greatly reduced versions of the enormous batches they must bake at the bakeries and that nobody has checked these to see if they work in a domestic kitchen.
With Hummingbird’s new offering, Cake Days, being released on Thursday, it’ll be interesting to see if that brings better recipes!
So to the last thing I baked from the Hummingbird Bakery Book – Lemon and Poppyseed Cake was actually rather successful but by then, I’d got a measure of their weird ways and faffed with it a bit. It also got stuck in the ring tin which was immeasurably traumatising! I got it out in the end but I would recommend putting giant amounts of oil in the tin so you can wrench it out in the end!
I have included the recipe here for the rewritten recipe, courtesy of the Hummingbird Bakery, they hastily whipped out a corrections on their website when the book was published and this is it.
Hummingbird’s Last Stand Lemon and Poppyseed Cake
- 85 g unsalted butter,at room temperature
- 245 g caster sugar
- grated zest of 1½ unwaxed lemons
- 15 g poppy seeds, plus extra to decorate
- 165 ml whole milk
- 235 g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 egg whites
- for lemon syrup – freshly squeezed juice and zest of 1 lemon, 50 g caster sugar
- for lemon glaze – freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon, 250 g icing sugar, sifted
1) Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
2)Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds in a
freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use
a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are
well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split).
Slowly add the milk and continue to beat until incorporated
(don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split).
3) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and
salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions,
scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl
with a rubber spatula after each addition. Beat thoroughly
until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture
is light and fluffy.
4) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a handheld
electric whisk until stiff peaks form. Using a metal spoon,
fold the whisked egg whites into the cake mixture until well
mixed but do not overmix. Pour into the prepared ring mould
and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated
oven for about 30 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back
5) For the lemon syrup: While the cake is baking, put the
juice and zest of one lemon, 50g of caster sugar and 100 ml water in a small saucepan
and bring to the boil over low heat. Raise the heat and boil until
it has reduced by half, or until it has a thin syrup consistency.
When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all
over the top.
6) Leave to cool slightly in the mould before turning
out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
7) For the lemon glaze: Mix the juice of 1 lemon and 250g icing sugar in a
bowl until smooth. It should be thick but pourable – add a little
water or more sugar to thin or thicken as necessary.
When the cake is cold, put it on a cake stand, pour the glaze
over it and decorate with poppy seeds.