Recipe Testing – Chocolate Potato Cake

As you know I have been doing some recipe testing in preparation for the business launch next month. I want to explore the rest of the world and it’s cakes and I thought a good place to start was at home i.e. Ireland! I found a great book of traditional Irish baking when I was trawling the internet (mentioned in my bookshelf post here), Maura Laverty’s Traditional Irish Cookbook, Bread & Cakes. It is a treasure trove of great Irish cakes and one in particular, the Chocolate Potato Cake.

I had found a recipe for this online and tried it about a month ago but it was  pretty tasteless, not much of a chocolate taste to it at all so I was looking for a better version. Maura Laverty’s recipe called for 8 tablespoons of grated chocolate (don’t get me started on grating chocolate, life’s too short both for the explanation and the grating!) which worked out to be 38g. That’s not going to add any taste to a supposed chocolate cake so I upped this to 60g. I did grate the chocolate this time, always best to follow the recipe the first time and then tweak it. As well as upping the chocolate I added 40g of cocoa powder, the combination of both make sure that chocolate is the star of the cake.

Now for the potato, potato in a cake? This makes sense in many ways, vegetables have been used in baking for years and why not the potato? Potato adds body and moistness to the cake without adding any flavour. The potatoes need to be boiled, mashed and left to cool completely before adding to the cake. On my first attempt I mashed the potatoes as I would normally, with a masher. The recipe called for them to be sieved but, in this case, I decided not to follow the recipe to the letter!  And I should have, the cake had tiny potato lumps distributed throughout which wasn’t very pleasant (although it didn’t effect the taste). I made the cake again this weekend and used my ricer, much better result so worth that extra effort.

The recipe used the creaming method to add volume. It also called for baking powder and separating the eggs and folding in the whisked egg whites at the end. This gave the cake a good rise. The baking time was 1 hr and 3/4 at 180C, this seemed a bit long so I checked it at 50 minutes and it was done in 1hr and 15mins.

Just out of the oven
Just out of the oven

The recipe book is from 1960 and assumes that you will know instinctively what size tin to use, it doesn’t give any sizes. The instruction is “turn into a greased lined tin”. I went with a 8in/20cm tin which yielded a very high cake. You could cut this in two and sandwich it with icing as well as icing the top. I left it alone and iced the top with a cream cheese icing.

The finished article
The finished article

I distributed some slices to friends for tasting, they all liked the cake (apart from the bits of potato!) although one asked about the purpose of the potato, she didn’t see what it added. I guess that is the beauty of it, it adds moistness but doesn’t interfere with the taste. The one I made last weekend turned out better, no lumps with the use of the ricer and I used a slightly bigger tin (9in/23cm) which made was the perfect size.

Resistence is futile!
Resistence is futile!
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Business Insurance Minefield

Starting your own business means having to sort out lots of legal things, food hygiene, registering with HMRC, registering with Southwark environmental health and, of course, business insurance. And what a minefield that is. As a newbie to all of this I wanted to get an idea of how much this sort of thing costs. I know what I need, public and product liability insurance but there are a whole host of other coverage that I might need too. To the interweb.

A few searches later I went on to the Money Supermarket website where they can compare quotes for you based on basic information that you provide. This turned up two quotes, one for £289pa and one for £307pa. Ok, so that is my ball park, right? I went to Simply Business, a similar comparison website but it specialises in business insurance and got a couple of similar quotes.

One of the pieces on information you have to provide is a telephone number, it’s one of the mandatory fields and you can guess why. Within 10 minutes of getting the quote on Money Supermarket I got a call from them asking if I wanted to proceed. I politely told them I was shopping around and would be in touch when I had made a decision. Next to call were Simply Business, I gave the same polite reply. However, they didn’t stop calling me for the next week and not just once a day it was at least twice a day. Eventually, after me ignoring them for a week they stopped. Don’t they know that I will now NEVER contact them again? At least Money Supermarket only called once. I know that this is someone’s job but they must realise how counter productive it is? No?

But, at least I had a number in mind for what I would have to pay, right? Again NO! One of my other jobs last week was to open a business bank account and after research NatWest came up on top (I’m already a NatWest customer which makes it all slightly easier). I had a meeting with a business advisor last week and as part of that they offer business insurance with 15% off for new customers. Result, I can get that £300 down a bit more. After about 20 minutes on the phone being asked many questions (will you be using asbestos, is there an ATM on the premises!!) I got the quote. £45, for the year! You could have knocked me down with a feather.

At first I thought that there must be something wrong but reading the policy it was the same cover that the £300 quotes were offering (give or take). After a few adjustments I took the cover out last week and even better there were no constant phone calls asking me if I wanted to proceed, they gave the information, allowed me to make my decision and were very helpful when I wanted to go ahead. Not sure what the moral of this story is but the internet is not always the best place to get good information! And NatWest were great!

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Posted in Cakes

Espresso Martini Cupcakes – Mark 2

Just a quick one to update you on my search for the Espresso Martini cupcake recipe. I made them again on Saturday. This time I used Kahlua (instead of Tia Maria) and upped the cocoa to 30g (from 20g). I did think about adding vodka but I figured that vodka is one of those spirits that doesn’t really taste of much therefore what can it bring to the taste of the cake?

I  brought them to a friends house warming on Sunday and they got the universal thumbs up. I might fiddle with the icing recipe but the cake is sorted, hurrah. So, recipe cracked and I will put it up on the recipe page of the new website once the new website is launched (all being worked on as we speak!).

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Posted in Cakes