I had a bit of a baking ‘eureka’ the other day.
Just a bit of one, not earth shattering, but it was a good one and it came to me out of nothing more than an afternoon baking slump and my charming habit of starting things before thinking them all the way through.
I’d spent the morning baking multipe batches of cupcakes and mixing up a variety of frostings in preparation for my cake stall at my friends’ film screening event and, frankly, I was done looking at cupcakes for the day. Thing was, I’d also volunteered to provide some cakes for a Macmillan Coffee Morning at work and was not about to wimp out on such a good cause – besides, the oven was still hot, the bowls were still out and there was still flour everywhere so, with no plan other than to Make More Cake, I reached into my baking cupboard to see what my non-cupcake options were.
Layer cake tins, no, loaf tin, nah, silicone cake mould in the shape of a large sunflower… oy. Then I found a tin I’d impulse bought at a pound shop many moons ago and never found a use for: a six-hole cake tin that would produce a batch of just-the-right-side-of-cutesy heart-shaped bakes.
What the heck, said I.
A little too drained to approach a new recipe at this stage in the day, I opted for my faithful go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, adding two tablespoons of instant coffee granules to the mix to give the cakes a bit of a flavour boost.
I then generously buttered the textured moulds, for fear they would hold my cakes hostage after baking.
For the record, as I really, really should have known, filling the hearts completely (as above) was begging for an overflow situation.
Dear ‘self raising flour’: Sorry, the clue is in your name, isn’t it.
After the first batch came out perfectly, if plumply, I went a bit easier on the batter and made a few more batches of smaller hearts that didn’t rise up in a bid to escape their tin.
Once the oven was off and the flour dusted off the cat (fluff: it attracts things) I found myself faced with a cooling rack full of speckly heart cakes of varying sizes which, while I knew they would taste delicious, I felt were too shabby-looking to donate to the bake sale – particularly as the first batch of hearts made the subsequent cakes look a bit stingy, which is not a good look for a heart.
As sometimes happens when I’m faced with the baking equivalent of a question mark, I looked at what I’d already done and considered what I could do with it without a great deal of fuss or fixing (some may remember how I rescued a batch of shrunken cupcakes a while back).
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but accident and imperfection are the super-cool aunties of invention, and when they took stock of the big hearts and little hearts, along with the fact that both sizes had unflatteringly flat back-sides, the super-cool aunties within suggested I look at the current situation from another point of view:
This is when it occurred to me that, with a bit of a baking-bump tummy-tuck on the small guy and a generous splodge of (the best) chocolate frosting (ever) on the big one, I could turn the spoils of a half-hearted baking session into a generous batch of beautiful cakes to whole-heartedly donate to the Coffee Morning.
As it happened, I still had half a bowl of said frosting left over from my morning cupcake extravaganza, and thus my random pound shop cake tin completed its first adventure in my kitchen – and what a success!
Now that is a proper treat.
When stuck back-to-back, the hearts were almost fist-size, and the result was a sweet sandwich of light, buttery, coffee-scented sponge with an intense hit of thick, gooey chocolate as filling.
The cakes were happily gobbled up and my office’s Coffee Morning made £136.00 – enough to pay for a Macmillan nurse to give five and a half hours’ support to cancer patients and their families.
Wins all round, says I.
And yes, I have considered the adorability of red velvet hearts for that ghastly day in mid-February, and yes, it might happen. Might.
For now, I’m just building up the stamina for more potential cupcakery at the next film screening – and any birthdays that might happen between now and then. And there could always be a cake emergency of some sort…
Life is tough, might as well make it sweet.