A friend of mine who lives an idyllic Famous Five meets Cranford lifestyle deep in the English countryside is taking her family on a picnic tomorrow. She will pack nice ham, cheeses, chicken, salad leaves, tomatoes and nice crisps. Clearly her children will pick at these items and indicate loudly that they wish they'd stopped at Gregg's on the way and why is that man in the bushes over there taking such a long time to do his buttons up. However, my friend is trying her best to complete the picnic idyll and she has requested the following recipe for the sweet finish:
She needs to, oh hell let's use her name: Edith....
Edith needs to set her oven to 180 degrees, oh hang on I know for a fact she's got a shonky aga, well I guess the bottom oven but to be honest I dunno. Slow oven I would imagine.
Edith needs to line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
Right, she's ready to go.
75g good plain chocolate
100g soft butter
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract - none of your imitation nonsense
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water
2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3. Add the eggs one at a time beating well inbetween eggs
4. Add the vanilla and lemon zest
5. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold it in well. You may need to add the milk because you, sorry how impersonal, Edith wants a good dropping consistency so quite a wet batter.
6. Get another bowl
7. Put a third of the mix in this nice new bowl and mix in the chocolate.
8. Drop large dollops of the two mixtures (I have another friend called Joanne who physically shudders when she hears that word, mixture. And another friend called Julian who exhibits the same phobias over the words "fret" and "holler")into the cake
9. Give them a little smoothing spread with a spatula to get the marbling effect. Pick up the tin and drop it on the work top to knock out any air pockets and bake in your proper 180 degree oven or, Edith, your trial and error shonky aga. About 35 minutes, but poke it with a skewer. You know the drill
Bon chance, Edith.
I hope your picnic is bucolic in the extreme and you spend the balmy summer evening galloping with stallions.