Slightly late on the bandwagon, but I thought I’d read some of the Booker shortlist and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid was the title that most appealed to me, I have Darkmans to read next, funnily enough the winner, The Gathering by Anne Enright doesn’t really appeal to me although I suspect I’ll read it, if anything because apparently the final sentence is the best final sentence the judge (or is it one of the judges?) has ever read.
But back to The Reluctant Fundamentalist, I loved this book, it has such a lovely, authentic voice. The main character is from Lahore but goes to college in America and then works in New York, which I noticed from the author bio he had done to, which brought upon a ton of writery paranoia that perhaps I should be writing stories about housewives in South West London instead of pinning my hopes on a story set in Ancient Egypt. I loved the way how the story was told, the main character narrates his story to a nameless American in a Lahore restaurant and it becomes apparent that the American has some part to play in the story, that the story is not yet complete. The story finishes at the brink of a possible confrontation and leaves open questions about exactly how much of a fundamentalist the main character really is.
I thought the story was quite sympathetically told, I wonder how popular this book is in the States?
It was Girl Lacer’s birthday yesterday (hence no post, we were out all day at Legoland, having a complete blast, even seeing fireworks at the end). Anyway I carted birthday cake and all there and this year it was chocolate cake as requested by Girl Lacer, in fact it was as specifically requested by Girl Lacer to be “chocolate cake you can cut into slices and that is not too chocolatey so that daddy can have some”, so I made chocolate cake.
Now a bit of back story here, I read at least two food magazines a month (Delicious and BBC Good Food) and I tear out the recipes and . . . never usually cook them but I was going through my collection of torn out recipes(which are just randomly stuffed in a cupboard, Flylady would be cross) the other day and came across the following recipe, Chocolate and Berry Tray Bake, which I remember being from Delicious’ Junior Cook section in a feature about kid’s cooking party. I thought it looked pretty in the picture. Note those two facts for future reference, it’s a recipe for a kids cake (and therefore shouldn’t be too rich) and it looked nice in the picture.
So, I made it and the first thing that annoyed me is that I’m pretty sure there was at least one error in the recipe and errors in recipes just bug me! It called for 225g of chocolate powder, now even a full jar of Green & Black’s Chocolate powder is smaller than 225g! I’m used to recipes calling for chocolate powder to measure it in spoonfuls not jar and a half-fuls! So I’m sure that was an error. Anyway I didn’t have enough so I just used the remains of my current jar which was (I measured it) 80g. Anyway I continued on and came to the part of the recipe where you had to push the frozen berries into the cake mixture, you couldn’t really push them in so that they were covered in cake mixture, so they sort of sat on the top, it didn’t look like that in the photo so I hoped the cake was going to rise or something. So the cake went in the oven for the required 45 minutes, it was not ready then and required an extra 10 minutes but eventually it was just about cooked, although I wasn’t too convinced about how cooked it was in the middle with the amount of fruit in the middle of the cake. The cake also looked nothing like it did in the picture (even taking into account the lack of toppings and candles) as the cake was domed and the fruit still visible (mmm thinking about it maybe the recipe had specified to much frozen fruit to). But it was the birthday cake I had, so off it went to Legoland with us.
So the all important taste test? Well, even with well less than half the recommended chocolate powder, the cake was still very very rich and chocolatey, too chocolatey considering it was in a kids cooking section in a magazine. I don’t think with the amount of fruit in it the cake cooked properly in the middle and although the cake is getting eaten (mainly by me) we’re just working our way round the edges. And thinking about it I’m really not sure berries and chocolate cake work together full stop anyway! So overall, a bad cake.
Thankfully though Girl Lacer is having a little birthday lunch with her friends on Monday and I’m making another cake for that (sigh it never ends) and this time it’s a tried and tested Nigella Lawson recipe . . .