Old Faithfuls

January was good, I had lots to say in January but February has been an arid month for good blog post ideas. Why? Blowed if I know. What I do know is that the less you do a thing the harder it becomes to get started again. I have no intention of getting out of the blogging habit so in order to warm up my blogging muscles again I am falling back on my old faithfuls - flowers and cake.




The cake is a Norfolk vinegar cake. It's an old recipe, a plain farmhouse cake made when the hens were off lay for it is eggless. I discovered it some years ago when searching for eggless cakes for Katie who couldn't tolerate them when she was little. It is not a moist cake but nor is it dry. It has a pleasant crumbly texture and it keeps well. The vinegar is undetectable in the finished cake but it helps the cake to rise without eggs (see the science bit below).

The recipe I use is in Favourite Norfolk Recipes by Dorothy Baldock (I have lots of these little books and they are full of excellent simple recipes for old fashioned food).

Norfolk Vinegar Cake

Grease and base-line a 9 " round cake tin which has a removable base.

Rub 8 oz butter into 1 lb of plain flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in 8 oz sugar and 1 lb of dried fruit.

In a roomy jug measure out 8 fl oz of milk and 2 tablespoons of cider or white wine vinegar.
Blend 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and 1 tablespoon of milk.
Combine the bicarb mixture with the milk and vinegar. It will froth up*. Mix the frothy liquid with the dry mixture. It will not be very wet. Scrape it into the tin.

Bake for 30 mins at 180°c (160°c fan oven) then turn the temperature down to 150°c (130-140°c fan oven) for another 60 -75 mins.

*The science bit

First of all bicarbonate of soda is sodium bicarbonate is baking soda -I call it bicarb.

An acid (vinegar) + an alkali (bicarb) + moisture = carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide raises your cake, that's what is frothing about in your jug. It is a bit more complex than that but for cake purposes that's what you need to know.

Bicarbonate of soda it is not the same thing as baking powder.
Baking powder is mixture of bicarb and cream of tartar which is an acid. If you use it as a substitute for bicarb you will have too much acid and things will not rise properly. Some recipes require both bicarb and baking powder, this is because they also contain an acidic ingredient, buttermilk or yogurt for example. Extra acid means you will need extra alkali, so bicarb to the rescue.

So, you ask, why can't we leave out the vinegar and the bicarb and just use baking powder to make the cake rise?

Because then it would be Norfolk baking powder cake and not Norfolk vinegar cake, and presumably the recipe predates commercial baking powders.

Do feel free to correct any scientific inaccuracies, my only qualification in science is an o level in physical science which isn't really a proper subject.



There you are, cake, flowers and unexpectedly, chemistry.


And laundry drying on the washing line, another old faithful.

Comments

  1. I've gone off blogging again. But I don't really have flowers ,cake or chemistry on which to fall back. I did do washing. But that is inside as it was very wet this morning.
    I like your little Ilfracombe jug. And the cake.
    Ax

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  2. When we were on war ration way of eating, I made lots of vinegar based cakes and muffins. It is an excellent riser and like you said, does not convey its taste in the final product.

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  3. I remember the fizzy element from red velvet cupcakes. It confused me, so I didn't try it again.

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  4. Absolutely know where you are coming from.Expect to see rainbows and shadows chez moi.

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  5. I've never seen such a recipe, and worry that my kitchen space might not be a large enough lab for the science elements. Still, I am making a note of this spot, for future consideration.

    Even I have at last added a new post. This winter has caused me to redirect my energy, but just having the joy of more daylight minutes is helping get me back into blogging gear.

    xo

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  6. My mother frequently made cakes wuth vinegar - I'd forgotten. Thanks for the ric pud recipes you emailed, I'll email an update when I can get to a computer.

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  7. I make a simple chocolate cake with vinegar. I love to feed it to people and then tell them there's vinegar in it, because they're shocked that a) a cake might contain vinegar in the first place and b) they didn't taste the vinegar at all.

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  8. Ah yes, but I love what you consider your standard blog material. Know what you mean about it being hard to get going again, though now I am back in the run (finally) I keep thinking of more to post!

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  9. This looks like the perfect cake for me! And, I too love your standard blog material.

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  10. Blog about whatever you want, Sue. It's always interesting. Also, with all my grumbling about the weather here, I forgot to wish you a happy anniversary. Sorry. I hate winter.

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    1. Thanks Kari. Never fear spring will come eventually.

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  11. How funny! Just today I read the banana loaf recipe I'm going to be making tonight: 'The secret is inclusion of natural yoghurt and lemon juice - they react with the bicarbonate of soda to create a really light airy cake.' I never knew that until today! It's great to learn new things. Particularly about cake!

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    1. Glad to hear I'm not talking rubbish. That cake sounds good.

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  12. Lovely photos Sue, and that cake looks brilliant. I've been struggling with blogging right now because things aren't going well here and I just don't know what to write. Do I ignore it and pretend all is well or something else. So I'm burying my head in the sand. I do hope you find the posts flowing well soon, I do so enjoy coming here and reading what you've so beautifully written.

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    1. Thank you CJ for reading, I hope things look sunnier for you soon.

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  13. The old ones are the best! I do fancy baking that vinegar cake.

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  14. Beautiful, beautiful photos and thank you for the 'science bit', it's more than I knew and quite helpful!

    S x

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  15. Old faithfuls that keep bringing me back. Lovely.

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  16. You can't beat the old faithfuls, they'll always bring out a smile! Lovely photographs, glad I found your blog :) Katie

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  17. Oops. Blogger ate my comment ... I was asking if you think this cake would be suited to eating with cheese ... my mother's family have a 'vinegar' cake they make that they eat that way.

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    1. I don't see why not Annie, although I think a rich Christmas type cake is best with cheese.

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    2. oh yes, Christmas cake and cheese is one of my favourite things. cheddar or wensleydale?

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  18. Fab photos of a delicious looking cake, beautiful flowers and a bit of science thrown in too. What more could you want! Lovely post. :)

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  19. flowers, cake and unexpected chemistry. oh how I love this. have sudden need to introduce science into my next blogpost.....

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  20. That's an interesting recipe. I may have to try that one day - myself being a Norfolk gal! Thank you for posting. Best wishes, Pj x

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  21. Liking the common sense science. Can you come and teach Oliver please? The cake looks good - it's appearance reminds me of the Mr Kipling Manor House cake, or whatever it's name is. And I likes them.

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  22. Anonymous2:15 pm BST

    Adding vinegar (or lemon or lime juice) to milk makes for a buttermilk like fluid (like milkfactories add a sour liquid to decreamed milk to make for "almost buttermilk like" buttermilk, except, one misses the real buttermilk creaminess. So you really made an "almost buttermilk" included recipe, something like sodabread does too. That is my way of science, milk plus sour makes some kind of buttermilk (I call it commom housewife sense), but thank you for the science lesson, funny how we, housewives, have used science for years without realising we did. Reina

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    1. Science, mathematics, economics and creativity -being a housewife is a multi-disciplinary occupation isn't it?

      Thank you for your comments Reina, they are always so interesting.

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  23. I must give this cake a try!
    It looks so yummy!
    Beautiful pictures as well
    Thank You~

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