A tale of a traybake

For those of you who don’t know at the beginning of the summer I decided to dye my hair pink. My nerves only started to spark when my hair was plastered on my head and I had streaks of pink on my forehead: I really had no clue how it would turn out. But with some things you never know until you do it and while hair dye is small fish in the sea of the unknown, not everybody goes to bed with one hair colour and wakes up with another.

A few months later, I indulged my inner mermaid and went turquoise. I had read some people’s experiences of this colour and apparently it was more stubborn than its sugary sister. So, I knew what I was getting myself into this time, but it was too exciting not to, as Annie James says, take a whack at it.

Now, my hair is puzzling over its half-washed out, greenish tone. Undecided, shall we say. Nostalgic for those green leaves that once adorned the bare trees I go past every day. The possibilities extend far and wide, though. Dark purple? Back to pink? Silver? My hair is my oyster.

Can we draw a parallel with baking a cake? I’m going to. You put things together with the best of intentions and you hope it sends waves of ecstasy flowing over your tastebuds. It may be when you put it in the oven that you remembered you hadn’t altered the recipe. Or that you forgot to put the sugar in. Whatever happens, that moment when you cut into the baked good or take the first bite and the excitement of the new creation with the anticipation of taste and texture, it doesn’t fade.

This week, the Traybake was on my mind. It sat there, on top of the baking box and jumped to the foreground when I wondered what to make. It then pulled the pistachio flavouring I bought in Bordeaux (see this birthday cake for another pistachio creation) out of the box, and we all had a think about what to go with it. I looked up my seasonal chart and cranberries burst off the page, although I used dried cranberries in the end. Voilà.

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I came across this sultana and cranberry traybake recipe which is from Mary Bez herself. The blogger forgot Mary’s tip to toss the fruit in flour before to stop the fruit from sinking but I actually quite liked the thought of glowing jewels nestled at dungeon-level so I skipped the hint too. I added vanilla essence and pistachio flavouring, had a 1:3 ratio of sultana to cranberry and altered quantities a bit. The result was a crumbly, golden traybake hiding a layer of simultaneously soft, chewy, plump, tangy, sweet dried fruit. When I added the vanilla essence it grabbed a life of its own and too much went in, so it was a bit sweet, in spite of the fact I reduced the quantity of sugar used. But it was fairly scrumpdiddliumptious. When I ate it, synaesthesia occurred: ribbons of fuchsia floated through my mind, landing on a pale green lake. Pink and green.

200g butter

180g caster sugar

250g self-raising flour

2tsp baking powder (I didn’t use any, but I’m adding it because you might want yours more airy

2 eggs

100g cranberries

50g sultanas

4tbsp milk

1tsp vanilla essence

1 ½ tsp pistachio flavouring

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line a 23x33cm tin (I put foil in mine).
  3. Send everything flying into a big mixing bowl and then beat it.
  4. You can add demerara sugar on top.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 mins until golden brown on top.
  6. Cut into squares.

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