Tuesday, 26 November 2013

i used to sew and bake and art and now it's all theatre bloody theatre

In the past fortnight I have:

attended six plays, one film, one art exhibition and three panel discussions;

written two album reviews, five posts for two different blogs, published a long post on another blog that I'd been working on for some weeks, and written/co-delivered a presentation at a panel discussion;

hosted two Theatre Clubs;

done a job interview while sitting in a stationary cupboard;

got the job (a writing gig for December, nice);

danced at two practices with the Actionettes;

(and spent time reading Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle and Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, both inspiring, in different ways);

(and finally encountered the brilliance of Borgen);

(and done the school runs, and organised childcare, and cooked dinners);

(I think I've just realised why I'm always so tired);

and I honestly think in all of that the thing I'm most proud of doing is making a really nice pomegranate cake on Sunday morning. A few weeks ago I had a glut of pomegranates and the usual recipe books (Claudia Roden, Sophie Grigson, Nigel'n'Nigella) weren't offering any inspiration, so I sent my magic friend Samantha a text asking for suggestions and she offered: a trifle made of lemon cake layered with cherries stewed in sherry, orange flower water and pomegranate molasses and Greek yoghurt mixed with more orange flower water, then drizzled with pomegranate molasses and pistachios; a pavlova with rosewater in the meringue and the cream and pomegranates on top; a sponge cake with them in the cream and on top; and Nigella's pomegranate cake. See why she's magic? I made a less complicated version of the trifle and very good it was too.

On Sunday I had another glut and this time turned to the Nigella recipe. And, as usual, decided to mess around with it. Instead of just putting the pomegranates/syrup on top at the end, I turned it into a caramelised upside-down pomegranate cake, which was just as well because on removing it from the oven I dropped it face-down on the oven door, and it would have been ruined if the topping hadn't been on the bottom. So this is my recipe, and not for the first time it's dedicated to Sam, with love and mutual heritage:

Upside-down pomegranate cake

4 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
50g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
half tsp mixed spice
half tsp almond essence

for the topping:
75g brown sugar
20g butter
1 tblsp pomegranate molasses
seeds of 2 pomegranates

the oven was at roughly 170C for this, and I cook it in a round 19cm springform cake tin lined with baking parchment

Get the seeds out of the pomegranates first.

Put the sugar into a saucepan on the lowest possible heat to melt. While doing the beating/whisking/folding jobs that follow, keep an eye on the sugar so it doesn't burn, and when about a third of it is melted add the pomegranate molasses and butter. It needs stirring to stop it from sticking. Or turning into a lump.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they're pale and thick, then fold in the almonds, flour, baking powder, mixed spice and almond essence – I ended up being fairly vigorous with it, because it gets pretty stiff. Whisk the egg whites until you can turn the bowl upside-down without them falling out, stir as much of them as is required into the rest of the mixture to loosen it, then fold in the rest.

Pour the caramel into the cake tin and swirl it around to cover the bottom of the tin. Tip all the pomegranate seeds on top, then spoon the cake mixture on top of that. Bake for about 45/50 minutes until a tester comes out clean. The caramel oozes into the cake mixture, the sponge is really light because it hasn't got any butter, the almond essence makes it taste a bit like macaroons and the mixed spice got me ready for Christmas.

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