One of the disadvantages of being a food writer is that people think you are an all round excellent cook who never makes mistakes (clearly they never actually read what I write here…)
However my baking skills are still my Achilles heel at times. I had planned to bake my first Swiss Roll flavoured with Horlicks recently as a birthday cake for someone dear to me but what I ended up with was more akin to the rubber floor mats that cars seemed to come with in the Eighties.
I’d have been ashamed to serve it even if it hadn’t cracked into something like old school sofa foam on my attempt to roll it. Clearly I hadn’t whisked my eggs and sugar into the correct frothiness first. So I did the only logical thing possible. I made a recipe up to create a Horlicks cake instead.
The only version I could find online was unbelievably complicated and for no particular reason I could understand, but using their idea for a Horlicks syrup, I adapted a mocha cake on page 55 of Rachel Allen’s excellent book Bake to a malty rather than mocha flavour.
And apart from overbaking it a wee bit because I forgot the extra sugar would brown the cake quicker, it worked marvellously. I split the cake in half and mixed the rest of the Horlicks syrup with mascarpone cheese and filled it and spread some on the top along with some fresh raspberries. Simple, attractive and absolutely loved by the birthday girl. Not much more you can ask from a cake really….
Horlicks Cake (makes one 2lb loaf cake)
- 175g self raising flour
- 50g Horlicks powder
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 175g butter, melted
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 75ml Horlicks syrup (see below for instructions)
- 250g mascarpone or full fat cream cheese
- 50g icing sugar
- 100g Horlicks syrup
Horlicks Syrup: makes about 175g
- 75g Horlicks powder
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 50ml cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 160C and grease a 2lb loaf tin before you start. Then start by making your Horlicks syrup as it needs to cool a little bit before adding to the cake.
Add the Horlicks, sugar and the water to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continously. Allow to boil for a minute or two until it thickens to a consistency like treacle. Keep an eye to make use it doesn’t burn. Take off the heat and add the vanilla extract. Allow to cool.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the Horlicks powder and sugar and stir through well. Melt the butter in another bowl and add the egg yolks, 75ml (or 3 tablespoons) of Horlicks syrup and a tablespoon of warm water to it. Stir into the flour and sugar mix.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them into the batter about a third at a time, making sure not to knock the air out of it all. Pour the now light and puffy batter into the loaf tin and smooth it to reach the corners and be as even on top as possible.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes and then check to see how the cake is browning and cover the tin loosely with tin foil if it’s starting to burn or simply turn the tin if it’s all a bit uneven. Give it another 15 minutes and take out. Cool in the tin for an hour and turn out onto a rack.
When the cake is completely cooled, take a full length metal skewer and push it through the middle of the cake from side to side. Take a serrated bread knife and using the skewer as your guide to lean it on, let the knife move through the cake to get a clean cut as you halve it.
Make your frosting by beating the mascarpone, icing sugar and remaining Horlicks syrup together and then spread a third on the cut cake and sandwich together. Spread the rest over the top of the cake and decorate with raspberries if you are a grown up and those decorative silver balls if you are a massive child like me.
The cake will need kept in the fridge because of the frosting but will last up to a week and is like eating a cake crossed with the middle of a Malteaser in all the best ways.
And yes, that’s a dreadful photo. Loaf cakes are incredibly tricky to photograph and the cake was a surprise for someone so I was being furtive and it looks like it. The fact it’s exactly the same colour as my sofa doesn’t help here. But you can see why I bought a sofa that reminds you of cake and malt powder.