Friday, 18 September 2009

Illegal jam

For a giggle, Mother in law recently entered me into the local Ploughing and Produce competition, which was being held in the farm just down the lane from them (yes, it’s all go where we live!) She had entered me into catagories of 5 x Butterfly cakes, home-made bread in a bread machine and individual desert. Well, life being what it is, I only had time to whip up the Butterfly cakes, and even then I had to tear over to the in-laws on Saturday morning, Darling boy in tow, to use their kitchen- or more specifically, their eggs, as we had run out... (where are those chickens I've been meaning to get?)

By the way, Butterfly cakes to the uniniaitated are essentially cupcakes, but with the tops chopped off, and sliced in half to make the wings of the butterfly. Butter-cream icing is then added (and perhaps a layer of jam, more of that later) and then the wings stuck back on, with a dusting of icing sugar to complete the look. Very cute, very 1950's retro.

I had never made Butterfly cakes before, let alone even eaten one (how can this be?) So I found a recipe that looked good and followed it to the letter (Rachel Allen, 'Bake' an excellent book, read more about her here )

The cakes went in the oven and came out needing to be cooled asap. With not much time to go, I stuck them on a cooling rack and put them on the bonnet of our car outside in the chill morning air . I had to keep a constant vigil, as the neighbours loony dog had his eye on them I’m sure.

I practised with the piping bag in the meantime and began the Butterfly makeover just in time, slicing off the tops, adding a blob of home-made jam (delicious and made by Brainy bros wonderful other half) I then piped on the butter-cream icing and stuck the wings on.

With just a few minutes to spare, I raced up to the barn to enter my cakes proudly as number 78. I checked out the competition- quite a few people had chanced their luck at 5 x Butterfly cakes and some of them looked pretty tasty. Only time would tell though, and whilst we waited for the judges to swoop, we bumped up the field in father in laws Land Rover to watch the ploughing match.

Its a tough business, this competitive ploughing and taken very seriously by the score of farmers in a variety of tractors, from vintage to horse-drawn. Darling boy was in his element, all those tractors! (it has to be said Father in law was in bliss too)

The afternoon ticked on and the judges decision was out. We trooped up to see the results. Mother in law had down well with her 3 x carrots, 2 x marrows and 3 x runner beans. She had also ‘placed’ with her marmalade and bread. I eagerly scampered to the Butterfly cakes to see where I had come.

Tragedy. Outrage. Horror.

I hadn’t even placed! Unbelievable! On closer inspection, on all the plates, one cake had been cut in half, and only those without jam had been sampled. All those who had placed did not have jam. Had I unknowingly added an illegal substance to my Butterfly cake? The controversial addition of the sticky stuff had ruled me out of any winning chance- the judges didn’t even sample the fluffy lightness of my sponge, or admire the jauntiness of my wings.

Calamity. Disaster. I was robbed!

Well, we liked them, harrumph.


  1. See I'm always scared to enter competitions like this as I'm renowned for twisting recipes and would probably be banned for illegal jam like you. And I totally agree that butterfly cakes should have jam in ;)

  2. Thanks Jules, well, we liked them- and the jam was extremely yummy, with dash of booze in it too- home-made by brainy bro's other half, so totally delicious.

    I pooh-pooh a cake competition where the cakes don't get eatent, but that wont stop me entering again next year