This is a serious blog post. Well as serious as cake gets. I want to warn you in case you’re expecting the usual drivel about babies and weight loss. I’m giving you all a week off from my neuroses regarding not fitting into skinny jeans. Instead I want to talk about hospitals.
When my eldest son was two years old he spent Christmas in hospital. My second eldest son (the phrase ‘middle son’ is banned in our house) was just 2 months old at the time. My, it was stressful. Christmas day was spent watching Bob the Builder on a loop next to my beloved boy who was sky high on painkillers. Luckily he was okay and got off pretty lightly. He has a scar that hugs his left eye socket, but that is all. I have a photo of us both, tucked away as a reminder, next to a South African Father Christmas wearing surgical gloves. You can see I’m crying in the photo.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity got in touch with me to ask if I’d blog about their Bake it Better campaign. Bake it Better aims to encourage bakers across the country to roll up their sleeves during Bake it Better Week from 13–19 October, get baking and hold a bake sale to help raise vital funds for a new clinical building at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Their aim is to replace cramped, outdated wards with modern, state-of-the-art facilities, so that everyone receives the best possible care. You can find out more about the campaign by watching this video. Or you can find out why they so desperately need the money by clicking here.
So in support of Bake it Better I am blogging this recipe for Sunshine Cake. Because I made it for a bake sale at my son’s school and it got snapped up in record time (before the sale properly opened)! Because it cuts well, which is so very important for a bake sale. Because it is a little different from all the usual chocolatey offerings you find at bake sales. Because it is very quick to knock up. And because when my little boy was in hospital, sunshine felt like a very far away thing.
For the cake:
- 340g self raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 170g dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 190mls oil (can use sunflower, rapeseed, groundnut or any other flavourless oil. Be aware groundnut is not appropriate for school bake sales due to the ban on nuts)
- 2 very ripe bananas, well mashed
- 100g tinned pineapple, finely chopped
- Zest of one lemon
For the icing and decoration:
- 200g soft butter
- 400g icing sugar
- 150g of tinned caramel
- 9 slices of dried banana
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and line 3 x 20cm sandwich cake tins. Mix together the flour, bicarb, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix again, being careful to press any clumps of sugar against the side of the bowl, otherwise these won’t bake into the cake properly. You’ll essentially have pockets of baked sugar. Then again… that could be rather delicious.
Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well until everything is well distributed – a couple of minutes with a wooden spoon. Then pour equally into the three tins and bake for about 25 minutes until well risen and golden. Check the cakes are cooked by pushing a skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean they are done. Once you can handle the cakes remove them from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
Make the icing by beating the soft butter with the icing sugar until very light and airy looking, like mousse flecked with air. This takes about 7 minutes in a stand mixer, longer with a handheld or wooden spoon. Then add the tinned caramel, (available in large supermarkets, or you could make your own caramel if you like). Mix well and then divide roughly into thirds and use to sandwich the cakes together, using the final third for the top of the cake. Decorate with banana chips and carry gingerly to your bake sale.
NB: If you don’t fancy making the caramel icing you could just make buttercream instead.
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