Bake, bat­tle and bowl: Sarah Nealon bakes a cake with the ex­pert help of Sue Fleis­chl.

TV Guide re­porter Sarah Nealon writes about team­ing up with chef and The Great Kiwi Bake Off judge Sue Fleis­chl for a les­son in cake mak­ing.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

The last time I made a cake was in the 80s as a teenager. Decades later my bak­ing skills are ba­sic. Very ba­sic. De­spite hav­ing two pri­mary-school-aged chil­dren I still can’t get ex­cited about cakes.

I don’t eat a lot of them and am in awe of moth­ers and fa­thers who stay up un­til the wee small hours cre­at­ing colour­ful, multi-lay­ered sug­ary mas­ter­pieces for their chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties.

When it comes to cel­e­bra­tions for my kids, I visit the su­per­mar­ket or cake shop. My ex­cuse (and I’m stick­ing to it) is I’m time poor.

But for the pur­poses of this story, I’m back in the kitchen. Mer­ci­fully, it’s not my own tired and clut­tered one but the clean and spa­cious one of The Great Kiwi Bake Off judge Sue Fleis­chl.

It turns out that if you’re go­ing to whip up a cake, it’s a good idea to make it un­der heavy su­per­vi­sion, prefer­ably in some­body else’s kitchen us­ing their fancy gad­gets.

Fleis­chl, who has her own cater­ing com­pany, has de­cided we are mak­ing a gin and lemon syrup cake.

It looks com­pli­cated but I don’t say that out loud.

On one side of Fleis­chl’s bench are the eggs, flour, caster su­gar, bak­ing pow­der, and but­ter which she left out overnight to soften.

The but­ter and caster su­gar are creamed via a shiny black elec­tric cake mixer. Next we sift the flour and bak­ing pow­der into a bowl be­fore head­ing to the other end of the bench to crack six eggs.

I feel like Fleis­chl is about to judge my egg-crack­ing tech­nique.

Nerves get the bet­ter of me and I drop a piece of eg­gshell into the bowl. She tells me to fish it out us­ing an eg­gshell. Like magic, the of­fend­ing piece grav­i­tates to the shell.

Us­ing a man­ual, hand­held beater I beat the eggs un­til Fleis­chl tells me to stop.

Next she grabs two lemons from a fruit bowl and pro­duces a long thin im­ple­ment de­signed to re­move cit­rus zest. I’ve never used one of these.

Fleis­chl grace­fully and neatly scrapes the outer skin of one lemon.

I’m in charge of the re­main­ing lemon and af­ter some fum­bling, man­age to re­move most of its zest. Fleis­chl kindly scrapes off the rest.

Then it’s back to the cake mixer to add the flour, bak­ing pow­der and eggs.

Fleis­chl is big on be­ing tidy, or­gan­ised, and favours the clean-as-you-go ap­proach.

I’m fairly sure if I was left to my own de­vices, my kitchen would be a gi­ant floury, sticky mess by now.

The tips and tricks keep com­ing and Fleis­chl says it’s im­por­tant to be in the right mood when bak­ing.

“There is more chance of er­ror if you’re in a bad mood,” she cau­tions.

Seem­ingly out of nowhere she pro­duces a per­fectly lined, round cake tin.

Once the cake mixer has been turned off, I scoop the mix­ture out and pat it into the tin be­fore pop­ping it in the oven.

The sec­ond part of our ex­er­cise is mak­ing the syrup us­ing gin, wa­ter and caster su­gar plus the juice from our zest-free lemons.

Fleis­chl then brings out a lemon squeezer. Overly en­thu­si­as­tic I fire juice on to the bench and my notepad. By now, I’m des­per­ate to make a good im­pres­sion and when I over­pour the gin, Fleis­chl, with a twin­kle in her eye, as­sures me that’s fine. I place the syrup in­gre­di­ents in a bowl and gen­tly stir them on a hot el­e­ment for a few min­utes. Ap­par­ently you never want to pour hot syrup on a hot cake and vice versa. Since our cake is still in the oven and we are pushed for time, Sue pro­vides a stunt cake she baked be­fore my ar­rival. Us­ing a soup la­dle, I pour the syrup over the cake. Then I sprin­kle ic­ing su­gar on top. Fleis­chl rec­om­mends serv­ing the cake with curd. She has pre-made most of it be­cause it needs time to cool but asks me to fold in some creme fraiche. For colour, she dec­o­rates the cake with cat­nip picked from her gar­den. Fi­nally it’s time to cut the cake. Hope­fully my ac­tual cake tastes as good as the “here’s one I pre­pared ear­lier” one. Fleis­chl asks if I’d make it again but at home on my own. In­stinc­tively I say yes but I won­der ... does she do house­calls?

Sarah Nealon and Sue Fleis­chl

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.