Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Hokey Pokey Coffee Cake - Take Two

Today's plan was (again) interuppted by my gorgeous girl.  I was working from home and had planned to join the Weekly Bake Off again.  Then reading the recipe, it suggested the cake was best served warm.  Not really one to take into work then.

A quick rethink turned up the Rhubarb and Almond loaf from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book which I've been meaning to make for one of the guys at work for yonks.  He was a big fan of my rhubarb and custard cupcakes long before the idea turned up in countless recipe books.  He is still in awe of how I managed to get the rhubarb compote inside them.  For someone who is so flipping brainy that it hurts, I'm continually amazed at his lack of practical common sense.

An outfit appropriate for freezing conditions (c) LCC Photography
I didn't, however, factor in Miss A's adamance that at 3pm she didn't want to get dressed and go out to buy rhubarb from the farm shop.  After a half hour battle, I finally prised her out of her pyjamas (the husband has stopped getting her dressed in the mornings because he just can't stand the drama) and spent the next hour trying to coerce her into something practical to face the cold.  She ended up in her Christmas outfit, minus tights, accessorised with satin lady bird slippers and a string of giant wooden beads.

I gave in.  Rooted through the cupboards.  Leafed through 100 Cakes and Bakes and decided to reattempt the Hokey Pokey cake I tried the other day.  Okay so technically it's not a new recipe.  But pretty much every other coffee cake recipe I read through uses the same two ounces or 50g of flour, butter and sugar for every egg.  With four times that filling my eight inch pans.  Self-raising flour and one tsp baking powder for luck.  The same as Mary Berry's Victoria sponge recipe.  Just with some coffee thrown in to flavour it.  Stick all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk for 2-3 mins with an electric blender.

In fact, it's pretty much the coffee cake recipe that I use all the time.  Even the butter cream ratio was standard and the same weights as say, the Hummingbird Bakery uses.  The new bit to me was making the hokey pokey bit (pecan praline).   I never got that far last time I tried the recipe.

So much as I, like every other baker in the country without exception, have a soft spot for (Dame) Mary.  But isn't she stingy with her buttercream?  And the syrup used for the praline too.  Or maybe that's how she's managed to stay so trim with years and years of home baking under her belt.  Because she doesn't really subscribe to the modern tooth-rotting phenomenon  that is a cake that can give you diabetes just by looking at it.

Ooooh...the Hokey Pokey....
Personally, I should know better as the husband and several of my relatives are sufferers.  Instead I furtively delight in licking out icing bowls and try to ignore the fact that I inhabit a high-risk group, what with my afro-Caribbean heritage on the one side of my family (I got all the crap stuff from my father - my horrible frizzy hair; my huge nostrils which are too big for my English nose; my ginormous backside and thighs; a higher risk of things like diabetes, heart disease and passing on sickle cell anaemia to my children)

But with Dame Mary, there's no room for spare butter cream.  Every last morsel has to be scraped from the bowl to fill and top the cake.

And the tiny bit of caramel that went into making the praline meant that I couldn't successfully isolate whole praline-d pecans for the top.  If I was making it again, I'd make double the caramel and then lay out individual pecans and smother them with the spare syrup.

Another top tip.  Make the praline on a buttered tray.  She recommends this or parchment.  I chose parchment.  But then spent a good ten minutes picking stuck parchment off the bottom of my nuts.  My pecan nuts!

So I used the praline in the butter cream and then made a little pile in the centre of the top of the cake.  Hopefully it tastes okay.  My taste team will give their verdict tomorrow with any luck.  I think they're enjoying having me on this secondment!

Recipe is from Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes.  £4 or so on Amazon.  Definitely worth buying!

Update - 8th Feb 2012.  Well my colleagues really liked it (although I think they just like being given cake in general) but it certainly isn't my favourite coffee cake recipe ever.  The hokey pokey in the middle was a fun touch but I think the lack of icing and the fact it was a bit coffee-less was disappointing.  Also forgot to add a touch of salt as I use unsalted butter in all my cakes.  Would I make it again?  Yes-ish.  I'd just make my own butter cream next time.  Then again, I have a feeling that I may enjoy some of the other coffee cakes in this book even more.

Update 10th Feb 2012.  According to my husband, this ranks amongst the worst cakes I've ever made.  He's definitely a man who calls a spade a spade.  Just never ask him if your bum looks big....


  1. Hahahaha! I love the updates! Now feeling a bit dubious about making this cake but I think I'll follow your buttercream / syrup advice. So glad I read this! X

  2. Ooh no. I was going to join the Weekly Bake-Off for the first time this week but I see it is this cake and am not so sure now! Think I will follow your buttercream/praline advice too and see how it goes. Great post btw.

  3. I think I've read this just in time before I attempt this week's Weekly Bake Off! Love the post and your humour and will take your tips and see how I get on. Rachel x

  4. I must say that I looked at the weekly bake off blog and all the entries looked fabulous. I'm obviously just not suited to making this cake :)x


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