Well, I have to admit that I'm slightly lost for words about this cake. Not really so great given that I'm trying to blog about it! I first saw the recipe and pictures a couple of weeks ago on the Caked Crusader's blog, where she describes it as one of her all time favourite cakes. I suppose that must be partly what drew me to it, because raisins are one of those things I can take or leave and they seem to be the whole point of this cake, plus how can someone campaigning for the cause of cake be wrong?!? And I was intrigued by the use of buttermilk - I've always wondered what it did to the texture and taste of a cake. So the decision was made, for better or worse, to make the cake.
The circumstances weren't ideal - I wanted it in and out of the oven before I attempted to roast my very first whole chicken (about which I was slightly nervous - baking I can do, cooking not so much!!) so I was on a pretty tight timescale. But I forged ahead regardless.
This is a big cake. Really big. I suppose I should have guessed that it might not cook in the specified time, and in fact, mine took 1hr 45 minutes in total, where it was supposed to take 1hr to 1hr15. When I tested earlier there was definitely raw batter on the skewer. Repeatedly. So I left it in until it was done. Unfortunately this means that the crust is thicker than I would have liked and is slightly burnt. I was also worried that the cake would be really dry, having been in the oven for that long.(At this point I should admit to being a bit of a control freak and perfectionist - I hate it when things don't go to plan and at one point I considered just giving up and chucking the whole lot in the bin. Fortunately I came to my senses and realised just how much I'd spent on ingredients for the cake!)
On the plus side, it was easy to put together. I followed the CC's recipe exactly (apart from running out of raisins and having to put in 260g rather than 320g) so I won't reproduce the recipe here, you can hop over to the CC's blog (you should do that anyway because it's a fab blog!).
So, after having complained for the whole post about it, was it worth it in the end??? Well, surprisingly, the answer is a quite resounding YES!!!! I took some for J to try and we both agreed that it's a really delicious cake. My fears about it being dry were unfounded (yes, the very edge is a little dry and burnt, but can easily be cut off) because it's moist and tasty, and the raisins are really moist and sweet. I can't explain it very well, but the cake had a flavour that neither of us could identify and in the end put down to the buttermilk. But it was a gorgeous flavour! The only thing I can do is recommend you try this cake for yourself. I'd make it again, but perhaps use a 9" square tin rather than an 8" tin or try adjusting the recipe to make a smaller quantity.
You'll have to forgive the photographs of this one, I was tired and it was dark and I was cross that the recipe had taken so long that I just wanted to get it cut up and into the freezer. If I get a chance, I'll try and get a better picture to post. However, there are 14 more pieces still in there as I post this, so plenty to be enjoyed yet.... I think it could be good with custard as a pudding. Mind you, I think most things are good with custard!
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