Rather than try and explain this book to you and do a shoddy job of it, I will let the Author Dawn French explain it...
I finished this book about 3 days ago and have been glowing from the warmth of it since. It comments on family life amazingly, it's humorous but in a subtle way, it's sad and scary at the same time. Absolutely brilliant. I know your wondering why i'm writing about it on here, a baking blog but cake features a lot in the book as the gran 'Nana Pamela' bakes a different cake for each family member, which wittily reflects their very different personalities. It is also a source of comfort during difficult times in the novel. Dawn French actually thanks cake in the acknowledgments.
I finished the book one groggy morning on the tube and was delighted to find 4 cake recipes on the very last pages of the book, recipes for Nana Pamela's cakes! I knew straight away I had to make one. I decided to make the main characters cake 'Mo', which is a beetroot cake. The way Mo described the cake intrigued me from the off to make it "This time I gave her plenty of warning that I was coming, so she had made me a beetroot cake. No second-rate biscuit substitutes today. The icing was bliss - bright pink and utterly delish."
From Nana P's recipe book - Mo's Beetroot Cake -
180g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
180g plain flour
180g ground almonds
50g cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
200ml sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g raw, peeled and finely grated beetroot
170g icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons water
1/4tsp cream of tartar
1 medium egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla extraxt
drop of pink food colouring
Hazelnuts to decorate, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm tin with vegetable oil and line the base with baking paper.
- Whisk together the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes with an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Add flour, almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Beat to combine.
- Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the grated beetroot and fold into the mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the icing. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water until the sugar dissolves, stirring occassionally. Remove the pan from the heat and place on a heatproof surface and with the bowl still standing over the pan, whisk on high until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
- Cover the top pf the cake with the icing and scatter iver the chopped hazelnuts.
- Take a swig of home-made sloe gin. For cook.
Making this cake made me feel as if I really was part of the story, the cake isn't too sweet and has an earthy flavour from the beetroot which also helps it be so moist. A Tiny bit Marvellous is available to buy now at Waterstone's or your local bookshop.