Monday, 29 June 2009

A right old chocolatey stodge

Another birthday, another cake disaster. This time it was Dave's birthday and armed with a new recipe that I have baked successfully before in the UK, I set about measuring, mixing, beating and greasing with the boys. I was confident of this cake. Really, I was. I mean, I'd already baked it once and it rose a treat, tasted great and was generally a cake worth eating. Also, it used plain flour (still haven't resolved the self-raising flour issue despite many attempts and associated flops) and all the other ingredients were readily available here. This was a cake that was going to work. I was going to break my Bosnian cake duck.

I felt like I needed this cake to be a success. I can bake cakes, I have baked quite a few in my time. But since we've been in Bosnia I have not managed a one. Also, I've been momentarily depressed that one of the most popular searches that lead visitors to this blog is 'stodgy cakes' which is not quite how I wish to be remembered.

We were hopeful as it went into the oven, but 40 minutes later, the skewer came out clean and the cake was as flat as a pancake, except for a little half hearted attempt at a rise around the edges. More chocolate orange brownie texture than light and fluffy cake. There was only one thing for it. Ice the thing, cover it in M&Ms, fizzy lemon cola bottles and sticky gummy dinosaurs and try to contain the excitement as we wait for Daddy to return so we can sing Happy Birthday. Actually it didn't taste bad, was just a bit - oh alright then very - stodgy. The boys wasted no time in tucking in and tuck in they did, they are mercifully forgiving of cake disasters. There's nothing quite like a birthday party to get excitement levels to a peak and all the adults then had to do was to sit back and watch the effects of large amounts of sugar on small boys. Dave hasn't had a birthday party quite like it for years.

PS - Brits In Blagai - the recipe is coming your way. Please can you try it and see if you have any more success or is it something in the Bosnian flour that is thwarting my attempts (oh, please let it be something in the Bosnian flour and not total incompetence on my part, although I have a terrible feeling that the incompetence may play a large role, sigh).

14 comments:

Kerry-Ann said...

I am glad to learn that it's not just me who cannot bake a cake successfully in Bosnia :) I resorted to just eating the cake mix ;) and finally gave up trying as they all come out like biscuits!!

Alanna said...

This cake has never failed me. Maybe it will help you, too: http://expatrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/05/tasty-no-fail-chocolate-cake.html

Kathryn said...

I rely on cakes in a bag (buitoni)!! my kids love them, they always come out great and people so often ask me for the recipe - that really makes me laugh

Metropolitan Mum said...

I want pictures!!! :-)

Rebel Mother said...

Is it the flour?

Stick a bit of that self-rising stuff in it. Bi Carb?

Mmm...Maybe not.

I usually buy one and tell everyone I baked it.

What they dont know doesnt hurt them!

Good luck with figuring it out RMxx

Michelloui said...

This has happened to me so often in one place I lived that I just stopped making cakes. Then when I mentioned it to the landlord once they said 'oh yeah, sometimes the oven cuts out partway through the cooking--light stays on so you thinks alls well, but the temp drops for a while then it kicks in again.'

What?! At least I could start baking caked again when I moved.

Jo Peattie said...

I have just discovered your blog- it is amazing. I moved to Hungary about the same time as your move. My kids are both happily bilingual now. I will keep following.

SandyCalico said...

Love the sound of the decorations! Who mentioned eating the cake mix? I want cake mix now!!

TeacherMommy said...

I'd guess it's either the flour or the oven...How frustrating! Have you tried using a mix? That could be a good tester to see if it's the oven instead.

Shunj said...

I don’t know what sort of cake you were trying to make, however … a few little details may improve your baking experience.
Flour is obviously an issue for you. Last time I was there self-rising flour didn’t exist on the market at all (things may’ve change since then). You have to use baking powder (prašak za pecivo) and make your own mixture.
What king of flour do you need? Regular flour you bake bread with (I think that would be marked as ‘tip (type) 405”), or the recipe requires ‘cake flour’ (which would be marked as ‘oštra nula’). This is important coz this flour is able to hold a large amount of sugar and fat, and still keep the form you desire.
The 2nd very important detail is the way you beat the eggs for the cake. If you own one of those professional mixers, just throw eggs in there and don’t worry about anything. However, if you have a regular hand mixer, you have to do a few extra steps. Little hand mixer will never properly beat eggs. What you have to do is separate yolks and egg whites. Beat the egg whites 1st, once it gets fluffy start adding sugar (slowly one spoon at the time), continue the process till it is finished (take the mixing bowl upside-down and if nothing gets out, it is finished). Continue mixing and add those yolks left aside (one at the time). (The result will be very fluffy mixture, you’re gonna love it.) Add flour (baking powder if needed) and mix it with a spoon (not mixer).
Grease a baking pan well (even if you use baking paper) with butter (I mean well), and throw it in a preheated oven for the necessary amount of time. I’m pretty confident it is going to work for you.
Hope I was able to help. As I said, I don’t know what kind of cake it is, and if this helps in any way. Just don’t give up, keep baking.

The wife of bold said...

Sounds perfect to me - chocolate, kids not complaining, what disaster? - better luck next time - i'm sure it definately is the flour and not your culinary skills :)

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Kerry Ann - really? It's not just me. You have cheered me up a lot. I'm going to embrace the biscuit philosophy!

Alanna - will try it out and report back.

Kathryn - don't think they have them here...

MM - I looked at the camera but none of them really do the catastrophe justice. I might take some of the half eaten cake so you can get the idea of just how flat it really is. That means i need not to eat it tonight...

RM - no idea. Tragically I (shhhh don't tell the Bosnians) like Bosnian cakes...

Michelloui - maybe that is it! I'm suspicious of my oven because it is electric (being a bit of a gas girl myself)

JP - welcome to the Balkan bloggers! I'll pop over to Hungary for a visit soon.

SC - the decorations were very cool. I mean who can resist a fizzy lemon cola bottle? Not me or my sons apparently as there were none left 5 minutes after the candles (of which there were quite a few) were blown out.

TM - I don't know if they have them here. I've asked other Brits in Bosnia to try the cake recipe out to see if they have any luck. Then I'll know if it is me or not!

Shunj - thanks for the tips. I think I just lobbed the eggs in and one of the boys whisked. Maybe that is my problem....

WoB - it does taste pretty good if you are in the chocolate brownie mood. And bless the kids, they couldn't give a monkeys! Yay for kids!

clareybabble said...

It was chocolate + cake + everybody ate it! Result!!!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

CB - exactly! What more could they want. Although I have just read Four Down and Mum To Go's post on birthday parties and she talks of a cake which had treasure inside of it! I'm grabbing my glass of wine and retreating to the sofa at the thought of making that...