Bloody Mess Cake
So this is the original liquorice cake. It was such a nightmare to make. Really. You’ve no idea. It was … Anyway, it did taste good – in the end. I’m not too sure how correct this is but I decided to post it because… the voices are telling me to… Happy Halloween everyone!!!
O.K. so… I think the cake part of the recipe is correct. It’s crazy and difficult to follow, it uses Blackjacks, you know those chewy, sour, aniseed-flavoured sweets, and a particular brand (don’t remember – I’m sorry…) of cinnamon-liquorice tea that I used to buy in Dunnes Stores and haven’t seen in a while – but there isn’t a Dunnes nearby here… So yes I think the cake bit is correct but … um … not sure many people will be able to follow it. The cake is made with ordinary wheaten white flour and I’m not going to try and replicate this with gluten-free flour. You have no idea how much of a headache this cake was. I had five goes at making a liquorice cake. Five. And all but the last one were really awful. And it was only as I was writing up the recipe and typed “I know it shouldn’t be so difficult to make a liquorice cake, just use a bit of aniseed essence. The only thing is I have no idea where I could buy that… ” I then searched online, being pretty sure that I could report that it wasn’t possible for me to buy it online – but of course it was. I spent the next minute staring into space, blinking. I had been laughing away to myself as I wrote up the post and then I was just like … Oh… my …. good…. AAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! DAMN IT TO HELL!!! … So … I’m not going back there. Well, I kinda have, I’ve something cooling in the kitchen, but I’m just going with that one attempt and that’s it. It’s quite different to this and I don’t think it will be as liquoricy unfortunately. Did I use aniseed essence? No, I didn’t think of doing that. There be demons in the kitchen of liquorice…. But all I really wanted to say here is that the cake bit is, I think, correct, but the raspberry ganache thing – I have no idea how I made that, it was going badly wrong so I just kept adding stuff to it. It actually ended up tasting exactly how I wanted – really tangy raspberry flavour – the whole cake tasted how I wanted it to – but I’ve no clue how I made the ganache but I have a link to the raspberry buttercream that I was trying to follow that day.
Forget all the above, the ganache bit of the recipe is correct. I know. I’m as surprised as you.
I read some article titled something daft like “Top 10 scariest foods”. Coconut was in the top 10. That’s how daft the list was. And still I read it. Anyway liquorice was also on the list and I have always been curious about how some people can really hate liquorice. I think liquorice tastes great. I love chocolate but I think liquorice is addictive. I don’t eat that much of it because, believe it or not it is possible to overdose on liquorice (in moderation though it’s quite good for you), and also it’s hard to find the good stuff. So it can be lethal, some people hate it as much as marmite, and it’s oh-so-darkly sweet. I decided I had to add a recipe for liquorice cake for Halloween. It seems next to impossible to find the type of liquorice I like that isn’t made with wheat flour. So no chance of us gluten-free lot overdosing on it. Which makes me sad – but maybe it shouldn’t…
I knew exactly what I wanted – a liquorice cake with tangy raspberry icing. A couple of years ago I started writing a children’s book and then halfway through I realised whatever it was I was writing it wasn’t really for kids nor was it for adults – it was something I found fun but I wasn’t sure who else would enjoy it. Anyway at one point one of the characters asks for a slice of liquorice cake with tangy raspberry icing (here’s an excerpt) and ever since then I’ve been thinking I’d really love to try that.
By the way if anyone would like to read more of that just let me know. I’ll happily post it. I might even finish it. Clive has a song, if that piques your interest… No? No one? Oh, well…
Oh yeah, the raspberry butter cream went a bit wrong and I ended up with a bloody red mess of a raspberry ganache sort of thing – which I think works very well for Halloween but if you would like something a bit more presentable try this recipe for raspberry buttercream frosting. I think you’ll need to use about twice the quantities for this recipe. I did start off by trying to make that recipe. Where did I go wrong? Um, what did I do right really? Not much. I used a whisk instead of a paddle attachment as the recipe calls for and it seems that actually that does matter, particularly if you’re trying to mix in something as bitter as the raspberries with the butter. Basically when I whisked the raspberries into the butter it all separated. I should also say that I don’t think I reduced the raspberry sauce anything like as much as I should have. I also added about 150g of icing sugar to it and about 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. I searched for how to fix buttercream frosting and found a site that said if you melt a third of your mixture and then add this back into your mixture. This worked fine until I started whisking – that site did say to use a paddle attachment. That’s how I’m pretty sure that whisking your buttercream is not the best idea. So instead I melted the whole mixture over a very gentle heat (takes about 2 minutes, no time at all). I removed it from the heat and kept stirring it to cool it down and keep it smooth. It tasted great but it was very liquid. I should have let it cool down completely but at that stage I just wanted the cake made.
Um, I don’t think the paddle vs whisk attachment makes any difference at all really…
I had already spent long enough trying to get the liquorice cake right. It was hard enough trying to find a recipe. Any recipes I could find online for liquorice cake seemed to be for some medicinal concoctions from the 19th century. Maybe the search algorithm was being adjusted that day. Eventually I decided to use a gingerbread recipe and just add things to it. I used Nigella Lawson’s sticky gingerbread recipe which is great. Serving suggestion see left: topped with natural yoghurt, freshly grated nutmeg and rashers. (You know, I bet Gordon Ramsay’s Spiced Breakfast Loaf would also be great with natural yoghurt and rashers.) Anyway my first couple of goes at adapting that recipe to taste liquoricy were terrible. I was using a Pastis and the results tasted like mouthwash. Mouthwash flavoured sponge is one of my worst taste experiences to date (that didn’t make me sick – and yet I still decided to start a food blog…). Finally, after I think five tries, I’ve got something which tastes good. I know it shouldn’t be so difficult to make a liquorice cake, just use a bit of aniseed essence. The only thing is I have no idea where I could buy that. Obviously I could have bought some online but that only just occurred to me now as write this. Oh well, my work around works well and I think this cake has a mild enough liquorice taste that very few people would object to it. What I did was melt down two and half packets of blackjacks in liquorice & cinnamon herbal tea. I used about 25 of them. Blackjacks are chewy sour sweets flavoured with aniseed, you could also use aniseed balls if you can’t get blackjacks.
I doubt 250g icing sugar is right – I’d say it’s more like 500g. No 250g seems to be about right. One tablespoon of lemon is probably plenty though. Probably. Taste it and see.
And that’s how you get one tasty bloody mess of a cake. Scary.