What would life be without cake? Cakeless, I guess, but let’s not dwell on that horrific, potentially post-apocalyptic scenario (and let’s just hope that even when the world ends the good old-fashioned bakery will still prevail).
Although I’m not a huuuuge cake eater it’s reasonably safe to say I’ve never met a cake I didn’t like. Put a cake in front of me and I will eat it (put two cakes in front of me and I will eat both and score myself a nickname for life). I prefer chocolate based cakes … actually I prefer chocolate based anything – and I’m frequently unexcited by mere sponge cake but, as you’ll see below, several of my favourite cakes don’t even involve chocolate.
So, what follows is a list of my top 5 cakes; cakes that have made an impression on me over the years; cakes that I would have to do my duty by nomming into oblivion were they to be placed in front of me; cakes that, by all rights, should be an essential component of a carefully calorie-controlled diet.
5 Manor House
This is one of of Mr Kipling’s ‘large cakes’, but if your definition of large is the same as mine then you’re likely to be disappointed at first. However, if your definition of large is ‘can I eat this entire cake in one sitting’ then you’re in good company with a Manor Cake.
It’s true that this isn’t the best cake in the whole world, but it’s one of the most convenient (just open the packet and slice… or not) and it saw me through many a hangover in my teenage days. For that reason alone it makes it into my top 5 cakes.
4 Jaffa cake
Is it a cake or is it a biscuit? Well, it goes hard, rather than soft, when you leave it out (oo-er) so it’s a cake. Actually they tell you it’s a cake right on the packet so if you still think it’s a biscuit then there’s nothing more I can do for you. Eating an entire packet of Jaffa Cakes is all too easy: the dark chocolate, the tangy orange jelly, the firm, spongy base. What’s not to love?
3 Carrot cake
Vegetables? Plus cake? What dark sorcery is this? That was mostly my reaction when I was first invited to try some carrot cake. Since then I’ve been hooked. It has to be moist and it’s better with the cream cheese topping (and some cream cheese filling too just for good measure). Dry carrot cake is a bit like flat beer: you’ll drink it, but you’ll hate yourself with every mouthful.
I love almost any cheesecake. It can be a packet mix with ground-up digestive biscuits for the base, or it can be a full-on New York style baked cheesecake: I don’t discriminate when it comes to cheesecake. While the filling is the best part, it wouldn’t be anything with the contrastiness of the crumbly, crunchy base – possibly what draws me to Jaffa Cakes too.
OMG – what if they made a cheesecakey version of Jaffa Cakes? Has anyone done this? Can we patent this idea?!?
1 Chocolate fudge brownie cupcake
The best cake in the universe is one my wife makes (no I’m not being biased there: you’d totally agree with me if you tried one of these). We bought the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook a few years back, tried the Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcake recipe and never looked back. I think we’ve only tried one other recipe from the book since we got it.
The basic recipe for this cupcake is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. And butter. It is chocolate in cake form: all the chocolatiness of chocolate and all the cakiness of cake (if you’ve been disappointed by other ‘chocolate’ cakes then you’ll understand what I mean). The recipe is supposed to include icing, but you don’t really need it – the cakes are *that* good. If you live in Sydney you might be lucky enough to try an ‘original’ at one of the weekend markets otherwise grab a copy of the book and try some homemade – it’s worth it.
(Disclaimer: I’m not sure how much of the awesomeness is in the recipe and how much is from my wife’s tender, loving, mad baking skillz but you can only try and hope for the best.)