A truce of sorts, Hummingbird Bakery Part II

So, my opinions on Hummingbird Bakery book No 1’s recipes are well documented and I stand by them although they became much more controversial than I expected!! I still believe that they brought the book out for Christmas or something else without much prior thought and in order to make large amounts of money. I don’t believe they really considered how they would be affected by domestic kitchens and they didn’t really explain their recipes.

Now, I have seen the launch of the latest Hummingbird book, Cake Days, and I’ve riled, quietly, against who I believed to be the Big Bad Wolf. I was obviously curious about the new book but I was adamant I wouldn’t buy it for myself and so comforted myself with angry little mutterings and turned my attentions to Rachel Allen, Nigella, Delia and beyond. Then the other evening, I was bought the new book as it was only £6 in Sainsburys (which did seem remarkably cheap when the RRP is £20!) and well I’d have been churlish if I’d just thrown it into the glossy but never used pile of cookbooks which seems to be reaching the ceiling. With some trepidation, I went for the Apple Streusel Cake.

But first, the new book and why I think it’s better and I do think it’s better.

BETTER:

  • Far more recipes with much more inventive and interesting fillings.
  • A clear explanation at the back about all the important things like egg sizes, butter temperature, cake case sizes and so on.
  • A list of suppliers for the less common ingredients
  • Better layout of ingredients and recipes

THINGS THAT ARE STILL A BIT, UMM…, ..:

  • There is still a huge amount of sugar in each recipe but there does seem to be less
  • I haven’t tried any cupcakes yet and they are, of course, the clinchers really..
  • Two loaf cakes I’ve made were horribly slow to cook despite their advice about fan ovens etc.
  • The order of the book is just strange. I know they have to choose some way of ordering things but it doesn’t make much sense.

The first recipe I tried was this Apple Streusel Cake and I have positive things to say. It raised beautifully and the sponge was delicious. The picture is, once again, not the greatest but that’s more to do with my lack of skill in photography than the fault of the cake. I think this cake would be lovely for pudding with some ice cream as it’s so soft and delicious but it’s also a good cake for a slice with a cup of tea.

I’ve tried a few things since and they haven’t been such a success but I’m going to keep going with it for now!

Apple Streusel Cake

a 20cm cake tin – buttered and floured

serves 8 – 10

for the sponge:

  • 60g butter softened
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 80ml whole milk
  • 3 Granny Smith apples (although I used Cox’s Orange Pippin)

for the topping:

  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 40g unsalted butter – very cold and diced, I can’t stress this enough, I accidentally put warm butter in and it turned into a kind of pastry!!
  • 70g soft light brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 o C.
  2. First, the topping. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl and add the butter. Rub between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside while you make the cake batter. I made this section in the magimix because it’s like crumble and I have such warm hands, I tend to melt the butter if I do it by hand. But you know what they say, warm hands, warm heart!!
  3. Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy. I don’t believe 5 minutes is too excessive for creaming sugar and butter. Add the egg and the vanilla essence and mix thoroughly.
  4. Sift together the baking powder, salt and flour. Add half of this to the butter and egg mix and stir well. Follow with half the milk and stir. Repeat with the rest of the dry ingredients and the milk and pour into the prepared cake tin.
  5. Peel, core and slice the apples into quarters and then into slices. Arrange in concentric circles on the top of the batter and sprinkle over an even layer of the crumble topping.
  6. Bake in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes or until golden brown. (They recommend if you have a fan oven, which I think most people do these days, to reduce the cooking time by about 10% but I’d say you could go down to about 25 minutes)
  7. Set aside to cool and then remove from the cake tin.

The previous Hummingbird incarnation.

http://hummingbirdbakery.com/

http://hummingbirdbakery.com/cake-days/

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