I went to a reasonably posh school. For Leicester that is. It wasn’t the really posh one where the kids got so much pocket money they spent the surplus on freshly cut flowers (yes, this is a true story – I mean, imagine having so much money at the age of 15 that you have bought all the 20:20 you need, all the black Wonderbras and all the copies of the Catcher in the Rye, so you have to use the money up buying freesia’s and the like. Madness). But it was posh enough to mean I had to wear a kilt, a blazer, had to ask to remove said blazer in the heat of the summer and had to open doors for teachers. I remember that being very important. I also had the opportunity to learn Latin. Like I said, posh.
It was hard work being at a posh school in the 90’s when you really weren’t very posh. It wasn’t cool to have short vowels then, or to have a very normal, regular life. I remember a few of the things I was deeply embarrassed by as an unposh teen at a slightly posh school:
- My parents living in a new build house. This was akin to social suicide at my school. Unless it was designed by Daddy and you had a period home for weekends away.
- Not having an AGA.
- Being a novice skier at the age of 13. Every posh person seems to ski before they can walk.
- Only being able to ride a horse whilst crying. I was scared of horses, the scary, shouty lady who taught me horse riding and even the other horsey tough pupils. Still I soldiered on…
- Being ferried about in either a new car or on a motorbike. All my posh pals had battered old cars and their Dad’s did not pick them up from the school bus on a motorbike.
- Not being naturally super skinny like posh girls and their posh Mums. I soon put this right through my very effective though deeply unhealthy black coffee and apple diet.
- Not knowing what a regatta was and having to look it up.
- My friends needing to remove their cricket jumpers when they visited my home as it was always warm. Their posh houses were cold, cold cold.
- Going on package holidays to Tenerife or Greece rather than spending August in a gite in France.
- Not calling my parents Mummy and Daddy, but instead Mum and Dad.
It was deeply painful. I even remember being embarrassed by the Tupperware cake stand my mother kept her coffee and walnut cake on. I mean, really? Tupperware embarrassing? Teenage years are tough aren’t they.
DISCLAIMER: Obviously I know that my teenage years weren’t tough. Obviously I am aware that going to a posh school is a privileged position to be in. This post is tongue in cheek. Okay? Good.
For the cake:
- 170g baking margarine or softened butter
- 170g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature and beaten
- 2 tbsp strong black coffee, cooled (if you have a fancy coffee machine or a cafe nearby then use espresso, otherwise use instant)
- 200g self-raising flour
- 60g walnuts, chopped
For the icing and decoration:
- 170g salted butter, softened
- 450g icing sugar, sieved
- 1 tbsp strong black coffee
- 110g walnuts halves, or less if you prefer
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease and line two 20cm-round nonstick cake tins with baking paper. Cream together the margarine and the caster sugar until light and fluffy. This will take about 4 minutes using a mixer or about 7–8 minutes using a wooden spoon and some elbow grease.
Slowly add the beaten egg to the mixture, a little bit at a time and beat well after each addition – this does take a little time but it is worth it for a superior texture. If the mixture curdles, worry not. Just add a tablespoon of the flour to rebind the mixture and carry on mixing as before, until all the egg is added. Beat in the cooled coffee.
Now fold in the flour using a large metal spoon in a smooth and looping slicing motion, be careful not to beat the air out of the wet mixture. Fold in the chopped walnuts then spoon the batter equally into the cake tins, spread to the edges and made level with a knife. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35 minutes but do check after 25 if your oven is over zealous. The cake is ready when the edges have slightly shrunk away from the sides of the tin and a toothpick comes out of the centre of the cakes clean. Leave to cool a little in the tin, then gently remove and let cool on a wire rack.
Whilst the cake is cooling, make the icing. Cream the butter until light in colour and fluffy looking using a mixer or a wooden spoon. Add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time, beating well after each addition. Lastly add the coffee and beat well. For a super light buttercream I beat at the highest setting for 7 minutes in my stand mixer – this makes for a mousse-like icing flecked with air. Sandwich the cakes together using half of the buttercream icing, then spread the rest over the top and decorate with walnuts.
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