Sweet treats

I’m trying to find time each week to bake cakes for the forthcoming Kivilev (now only 7 weeks off). My home-baked goodies enjoyed a very warm welcome at the recent Gentlemen, and I’d like to continue in this vein for subsequent club-hosted events.  The numbers of participants will, of course, be much higher for the Kivilev but I’m aiming to only provide them with home baked cakes at the finish. Last year, the volunteers who were in charge of the post-race refreshments held my cakes back for those who remained for the presentations. I don’t want them to do that this year. I also made the mistake of not pre-cutting the cakes, allowing the volunteers to cut them up into too small slices. I have taken note, it won’t happen again.

Over the past year, I have been refining my selection of cakes suitable for ravenous riders. Basically, I need loaf or sheet pan cakes which slice easily and  freeze well, or which improve with keeping for a couple of days. There will, of course, be plenty of my (in) famous pain d’épice. I’m also making a number of cakes using two of Nigella Lawson’s recipes: her banana bread and chocolate loaf.  Both of these cakes remain very moist and moreish, even after lengthy spells in the freezer. I shall also make a couple of large fruit cakes which tend to improve, and cut more easily, if you leave them for at least a week or so before eating. These will also spare some space in the freezer. I’ve already made some chestnut and almond cakes, from a Corsican recipe, which have a nice nutty flavour and lose none of their texture or taste after a few weeks in the freezer.

One of my more recent bike-friendly experiments, proved particularly popular. I basically replaced the sugar and fat in a traditional carrot cake
recipe with apple and date puree. It was an inspired substitution, so I’ll whip up a few batches of these too, along with plenty of my oaten squares, which are bound with mashed banana and apple puree before baking. We also have around 90 volunteers to feed some of whom will start work very early in the morning. An army of volunteers, particularly male ones, marches on its stomach. Feed and water them on a regular basis with tasty and filling food and you’ll get little or no complaints.

As well as providing sustenance for the participants and volunteers, we also have to prepare a small apéro for the local dignitaries and guests. I’m going to make some savoury cakes using feta cheese and herbs, plus some pissaladiere to go with the usual drinks and nibbles. We don’t yet know whether we’re going to be graced with someone from the Kazakh Embassy, but we’re hopeful.

And if that were not enough, we then have to prepare and cook the post-Kivilev BBQ for all the volunteers and their partners. Our usual fare of grilled sausages and chicken with a mixture of salads, washed down with wine has proved popular and it’s easy to cater for large numbers on this basis. While most of the food will be purchased from the supermarket, I may just prepare a few sweet treats to thank everyone for all their hard work: maybe a couple of cheesecakes, something gooey and chocolatey and a large, berry-red, luscious summer pudding. If you’re interested, send me an email as we’re still a few volunteers short, particularly for road marshalling duties.

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