What is it?: Everybody’s favourite coffee shop muffin – in a cake!
Occasion: Farewell to a colleague going on adoption leave.
As my ‘quote’ from delicious. magazine says: “Whenever there is an occasion, there is an occasion for cake.” This is never truer than in the workplace. In my office, baking has become such an integral part of our working lives – every Thursday, for example, we have a baking rota and one or two members of the team will bring in baked goods for everybody else to enjoy. More often than not, this is also replicated on a Friday where a much-needed sugar rush to propel you through that last lacklustre part of the week is enough to propel a member of the team to the nearest bakery to buy treats. Our team have started to gain quite a reputation for being sugar-fiends and there is a running joke around the office about how we’re all going to end up being morbidly obese with no teeth before long. In addition to our regular eating sessions, cake is also very much on the agenda for any celebration. The last celebration was my birthday, when my line manager baked me a delicious parsnip and maple syrup cake (sounds odd, tastes fantastic), and now one of our colleagues was going on adoption leave and I knew that there was only one cake that would do.
A little while ago, Band of Bakers ran an enriched bread event, for which I baked lemon buns. I made a practice run (which were, annoyingly, better than the final version) and took them into work. Said colleague went totally crazy over them, declaring her love for all things lemon, so I knew that this had to be the primary ingredient in her ‘leaving cake’. I went home and scanned the index of Short and Sweet to find this interesting sticky lemon and poppy seed cake, which was kind of a cross between your typical lemon and poppy seed muffin and a lemon drizzle cake. It seemed to be the perfect choice – lemony, wholesome, and robust enough to transport into work (I’ve struggled with this before!). I have to confess that I was slightly put off by the addition of 75g fine oatmeal to the mixture, as I have never before used this and was not sure if I could get it in my local supermarket. Dan suggests using ground rolled oats as an alternative, which was a little scary, however on my shopping trip I came across a bag of ‘medium oatmeal’ which I whizzed up for a few seconds in the food processor.
The addition of the oatmeal to the cake, along with the poppy seeds, gave this cake a really interesting texture. It was less crumbly than the lemon and poppy seed muffins you tend to find in certain well-known high street coffee shops, and instead had a kind of chewiness that was far more appealing. Despite having the zest of three lemons in the cake mixture, I felt as though most of the lemon flavour came from the drizzle topping, so I would be tempted to add another lemon if making this again. This cake is a great all-rounder – it is easy to make, tastes great and probably lasts a fair while too. If you wanted to pimp it, you could easily convert it into a layer cake by baking it in two sandwich tins and spreading a layer of home-made lemon curd through the middle. Nom.
In other news:
After gorging ourselves on cake in the office, we headed off to the Albertine wine bar for a few after-work drinks. This is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wine bar just off Shepherd’s Bush Green, a firm favourite with local west Londoners. It is a tiny wood panelled bar with menus written on blackboards in chalk and a wine list of well over 130 wines. It has the charm of a French bistro inside, with the chaos of W12 going on outside – in fact we were accosted by a man claiming to be named ‘Prince Michael’. Apparently they also sell rather good cheese, although I didn’t get around to eating, which probably accounts for my very inebriated journey back to Peckham and my late night visit to a Rye Lane chicken shop. At least I missed the part where my colleagues threw an M&S traybake out of the window.
The Albertine, 1 Wood Lane, London W12 7DP.