Since January, I've been seconded onto a project at one of our other sites. I've made lots of new 'friends' at the new office because I am the bringer of cakes. I have known informal meetings to be interrupted because someone has spotted an email on their Crackberry proclaiming there to be homemade cake on my desk. And at times, I've used cake as an incentive to coerce my colleagues from my home site to attend meetings at the new site (if senior management are reading this, they'd've come anyway - and the sugar they consume makes them more productive!)
But now the cake envy has started. My regular colleagues get emailed pictures of whatever goodies are on offer just to make them jealous. My project manager has been bragging to an old colleague of mine who now works at another site about how much cake he's been plied with over the last few months (and there's not an ounce of fat on him - I dislike him very much for this!) Said colleague is now not speaking to me.
Unusually today, a plan was in place to visit my home site and take the weekly bake with me. I forwarded pictures of the cake, but when the meeting was cancelled, I got a short shrift from my colleagues saying the cake didn't look like it was anything special anyway. I know that's just pure cake envy because they always taste good, even if they're not aesthetically pleasing.
For every friend I've kept through baking, I have a feeling I alienate those who aren't lucky recipients. I post pictures of my baking on Facebook and every time, my stepdad hopefully comments that he'd like to get some next time I visit. Invariably he's out of luck because it's been shared with someone else instead.
I get cake envy too now I idle away so much time on Twitter, but it's certainly broadening my cake eating horizons (and my bottom!) I love looking at the fabulous baking other people tweet about. There is such amazing baking talent in this country, I seriously don't know how supermarket cake survives. I don't think I'd ever be envious of that.
Anyway, enough waffling and on to the bake. Interestingly I baked this after watching the Baking Mad episode on tray bakes. The recipe calls for the base to be mixed using a mixer, but the lovely Mr Lanlard says "...shouldn't be using mixers, shouldn't use too many pieces of equipment, if it's too sophisticated or elaborate, it's not a traybake any more..." so it was all mixed by hand. This had the added bonus of not annoying the husband who hates my mixer nearly as much as he hates Manchester United.
I also had a bit of an issue with my local Waitrose. For a tiny Waitrose Local (or whatever they call it) it has an excellent selection of food. But they don't sell cocoa. Do the people of my town not bake or something? I can buy it in my local Tesco Express, but not in posh old Waitrose! (I'm not posh, it was just supposedly convenient) I have complained about this so hopefully it will be rectified shortly.
Whilst re-reading the recipe, I realised I messed up and used baking powder rather than bicarb which meant my base was a little more puffy than it should've been but no less tasty. In fact, I don't normally like bicarb in things because whilst I know it has a purpose, I can always seem to taste it and I find it sometimes spoils my enjoyment of the cake.
This may also be why the bits of crumbled dough on the top seemed to leak a little bit of butter grease across the top of the cheesecake but it tasted fine. I also think the direction to keep 1/4 of the dough to use in the topping is excessive. I probably used only half of this
You need to make sure you bring it to room temperature before serving although it doesn't say this in the book. I found it really hard to cut and was worried that the base would be all horrible and dry, but a couple of hours in a tin on my desk and it was all lovely and fudgy again.
Very popular with the natives who are big fans of brownies. I'd probably bake again, but my favourite Hummingbird Brownie recipe is their Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie - you can find that recipe here.
Recipe: Makes 12-15 generous bars (adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days)
For the base
- 250g unsalted butter
- 420g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 380g plain flour
- 60g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the topping
- 80g good quality white chocolate
- 300g full fat cream cheese (ie Philadelphia)
- 60g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 egg
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt. Tip into the batter in two batches and fold in until well combined. You may need your hands to bring this together as it's more like a firm dough than a batter.
- Reserve about 1/5 of the dough for topping and put in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Line a 23x30cm baking tray with parchment and press the remaining dough into the tray and allow it to set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170c/150c fan/325F/Gas 3.
- Remove the base from the fridge and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the tin before adding the topping but keep the oven on for cooking the finished cheesecake.
- Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth (don't over mix as it can split). Add the egg and mix thoroughly, then stir in the melted chocolate.
- Spread the mixture onto the cooled base, crumble over the reserved dough in large pieces.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until the cheesecake has set. Cool completely then refrigerate for a few hours. Cut into bars and bring to room temperature before serving.