Caking with terror

I decided to make an upside down banana toffee cake for my wife for her birthday, because she’s awesom. I’m not the best baker, so I normally stick to easy recipes. But in a fit of bravado I decided to stretch my self.

At 4pm on a Tuesday, while making roast lamb and chasing two kids.

I’m not sure why I decided that was the appropriate time to branch out, and in retrospect it doesn’t seem like the best choice. But the cake was delicious.

I didn’t have any problems with the cake side of the recipe, it was the toffee that freaked me out. That stuff is just dangerous. I’d feel safer making napalm. I got the roast lamb on, started the syrup boiling, made the cake mix with one eye on the syrup.
I now know that if you hear the boiling become quieter, it’s a sign that the toffee is about to start browning. Unfortunately, with the first batch, I wasn’t aware of that. I turned around to comfort an upset 4 year old who’d bumped his head, and turned back to¬†find white smoke
coming off the toffee, which was now black.

I got it off the heat and left it to cool (NB: molten sugar is damn hot, don’t put it near water. Even though it looks still, it’s still well over 100C. Any water will flash to steam. It may blast volcanically hot toffee everywhere in the process.) I cranked the exhaust fan up and grabbed a new saucepan.
This cake was going to get toffee. My son had decided that a kitchen that had stuff with smoke poring out wasn’t where he wanted to be, so I got 15 minutes of peace to try again.

The second batch went well. I followed the recipe. Stirred while the sugar was dissolving and kept it below a boil, didn’t stir while it was boiling. And i didn’t do anything else while I made it.

I did give it a little stir as the sugar began to brown as the colour was uneven. I didn’t realise how much the toffee would darken up after I stopped heating it, so I almost killed the second batch too.
After pouring the molten toffee into the bottom of the lined cake tin, you add a layer of banana slices. You can see them start to boil as they go into the toffee. If you weren’t motivated to keep your fingers clear before, you should be by now.

It all worked out in the end. Dinner was only a little late. The roast lamb was very nice, and the cake thick and strongly flavoured by the banana and the tofee.

Camping roas lamb

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of lamb that will fit in your camp oven
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of water
  • 1/2 bag red lentils
  • 4 large onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • one tub of vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • camp oven or large cast iron pot

preparation

  1. peel the onions and cut in half sideways (so the onion rings are visible) and line the bottom of the camp oven with them. They should pretty much cover the bottom.
  2. place the red lentils on the onions.
  3. place the garlic on the lentils.
  4. place the lamb on the lentils and garlic.
  5. give the lamb a dash of olive oil and rub it in. season with salt and pepper.
  6. pour the tomatoes either side of the lamb
  7. mix the stock into the water and pour half either side of the lamb

Cooking (in the kitchen)

  1. pre heat an oven to full whack (as Jamie says)
  2. stick the pot in with the lid on
  3. after about 15 min turn the oven down to 180 (160 fan forced) and cook for 1.5 hours
  4. take the lid off and inspect, I left the lid off to brown the top of the lamb at this point. Just keep an eye on the tomato to make sure it’s not burning.

if you would like to do this as a slow roast, just leave the lid on and increase the cooking time to about 3.5 hours.

Cooking (in the fire)

Place the camp oven in a bed of hot coals and scoop a shovel full of coals onto the top of the oven. Check it every half hour to hour to make sure its cooking ok.
We left it to cook for 3.5 hours. Instead of carving the roast, we just pulled it apart with forks.