Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Story of the Citrus and Chilli Cosmic Cake and My Very First Cake Competition

Ok, first off, sorry for the humongous gap in time between now and my last post. Turns out making money to pay all the bills people keep sending us takes up a lot of one's life. Anyways.

So myself and le Boof are members of the university's gaming society, FragSoc. They host three LANs (if you don't know what a LAN is, please read this) a term, which is great fun. Sixty to ninety people sat in a massive room for an entire weekend playing games, eating junk food and consuming an unhealthy amount of caffeine. When I first joined I had heard rumours of baking competitions and the weekend just gone they finally held one. YUS. First ever baking competition, dead excited.

So planning began. A long, late-night discussion with BBF (best baking friend - find her here amongst other places) followed, on what could best fulfil the four criteria the cakes were to be judged on: taste, appearance, ingenuity and "appropriate use of caffeine". I wanted something interesting, something that no one else would think of. Chilli cake was a route I was intrigued by, and chocolate and chilli was the obvious recipe to go for, but it had already been done in previous competitions. Of course the next step is lemon and chilli (??) I have no idea where that came from but it stuck. As far as getting caffeine into the cake was concerned a lot of previous entries had, in my eyes, cheated, and just ground up pro plus tablets and popped them in the cake batter. I did not wish to cheat. So the idea of incorporating energy drink into the cake somehow was added to the list of insanity.

Eventually I came to my final decision. I would make a citrus chilli cake with an orange energy drink and chilli drizzle and the same energy drink in an orange buttercream icing. And it would be magnificent.

After half a day of playing around with a lemon drizzle cake recipe and and quite a lot of crushed chilli flakes, I found a good balance, and to my intense relief, it actually tasted really nice! Next was the drizzle. I boiled down some of the energy drink (Relentless Inferno for those who know what it is &/or are interested), and again chucked in a load of crushed chilli. That... well, that was best not consumed on its own to be frank. But on the cake, it definitely added (more) kick!

Fairly innocuous lemon drizzle mix
Slightly less innocuous chilli flakes

Batches ready for varying amounts of chilli
Chilli batter and the control mix (sans chilli)

Then came the day before the LAN party, and the competition. Three batches (and not small batches either) of cake mix, two cans of energy drink, a lot of naked lemons and oranges, a hell of a lot of chilli flakes, and a fair bit of arts and crafts later I had my cake finished.

Two of the three cakes used
The Relentless and chilli drizzle being reduced

It was. Magnificent.

The Final Cake!

The space invader design was le Boof's idea. It's used in the gaming society's logo and of course is iconic within computer gaming, so was a no brainer once it'd been suggested. The night before I made the cake I made a bespoke cardboard base for it and drew out the logo in 1 1/2 inch squares, then covered it in a couple of layers of cling film. Once the cakes were made I cut them up into the same size squares and put them together in the space invader pattern, like giant edible pixels! To top if off I went crazy with the space dust edible glitter, although you can't really see it in the pictures. *sad face*

Just for funsies I also popped the left over Relentless and chilli drizzle in an empty (and clean) vanilla essence bottle and brought that along, then left it casually by the side of the cake. During the judging this got passed round the more laddish of the LAN attendees who were shotting it from the tiny lid and  then shaking their heads and gasping!

I came third in the competition in the end, it was incredibly nerve racking! It was judged by the chair of the society, a guy who had come along to represent the society's new sponsor and another member of the society (society society). I was beaten by an admitted really impressive Nyan cat cake which was beautifully decorated and was a seven layer rainbow cake inside. I doff my hat to them, it tasted good and looked incredible, but despite that they only came second. I can't say I would have awarded first prize to the cake it did go to, but I'm not grumbling. Here's what I won! Yay! Prizes for baking!


So there we go. It was great fun doing it, although I can't now even think about eating lemon drizzle cake, I'm sick of the sight of it. I enjoyed my first dabble into experimenting with baking. I think I'd do the basic cake again, not all the energy drink business, that was mainly to get in some caffeine. I'll pop the recipe at the end of the post, it's definitely worth trying out if you like a little bit of spice in your food (prob not for the faint hearted though).

This also means I am now no longer just one of the girls at the LAN (max 4-6 girls to min 50 odd boys usually), I am the girl that made the crazy but surprisingly tasty citrus and chilli cake. (oh, and the girl that's good at TF2 - my team totally won the tournament.)


Citrus and Chilli Cake

320g Caster sugar
3 eggs
Zest of 2 lemons and 1 orange
350g plain flour
1tsp salt
250ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250g butter
4 1/2 tsp crushed chilli

+Pre heat oven to 180°c
+Cream butter and sugar together
+Stir in eggs
+Add zest, vanilla extract and crushed chilli
+Sieve in flour, baking powder and salt
+Stir milk in, a bit at a time until you've got a nice batter mix
+Pour batter into cake tin
+Bake for roughly 30mins, dependent on what shaped tin you're baking in
(Original recipe this is based on was for a lemon drizzle loaf, that said to bake for 1hr 15min, although I put mine in a brownie tin, which took considerably less baking time)

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