I still have cake left that I baked at the weekend so it’s another chance to choose between cake, or death!
After this edition of cake-or-death I am up to date, so I’m open to suggestions for the cake to welcome D and R with next weekend.
I have certain vivid memories from my childhood. Crawling through the long grass of our back garden, pretending that our cat was a tiger and we were in a jungle. Being scolded by my mother for trying to argue that a “couple of biscuits” might mean three. Running into my bedroom in the evening for fear of something in the darkness leading to the attic behind me, and rushing to close the curtains to banish the Cylons in the window. And my mother’s carrot cake. Dense. Dark. Carrotty. Completely devoid of walnuts, cream cheese frosting, or all the other daft things that afflict every single carrot cake recipe I have subsequently been able to find.
My mother doesn’t have the recipe she once used, and barely remembers the cake to which I refer. And so I am bound to a quest, to iterate upon a recipe until I reach one that matches my idealised memory. This is candidate number two in that quest, and it goes like this:
225g butter creamed with
half as much sugar to which add
2 beaten eggs
225g grated carrot
225g wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
half tsp ground nutmeg
Unsurprisingly I messed up again and completely forgot to add any baking powder. Duh. It was baked at 160C (in a fan oven, so 180C otherwise) for one and a quarter hours. Once the excess butter had dripped off, and it had matured for a couple of days, it really wasn’t that bad.
It’s really interesting that the cake is now tastier to eat, on day four, then on the day it was fresh from the oven. Leaving out baking powder wasn’t such a terrible plan, the density is good, but I think in the next iteration I will add just a little. There is too much butter/not enough of the other ingredients. The smell of the spices was really exciting when I took the cake out of the oven, but I can’t taste them in the cake. Is there enough carrot? I’m not sure…
The risk of death here comes from terrorists constructing a nuclear dirty bomb, or a chemical/biological device for killing either a large number of people, or creating vast amounts of panic and disruption. Once again scientists are cast as the bad guys:
… it only takes a competent chemist to create vats of a toxic nerve agent, and there are plenty of competent chemists in the world… If the question is whether a dirty bomb will one day go off somewhere, spreading radiological, chemical or biological material, then the answer has to be yes. It only takes a patient, skilled scientist to prepare the equipment and the active ingredient.
However, Alok Jha concludes that this is a death that doesn’t have the potential to bring about the end of civilization. And that is undoubtedly correct. Civilization can survive vast industrial wars, so even scientifically-trained terrorists can’t put it at threat. Still, if a scientist you know starts to show an unhealthy interest in caesium-137, castor oil production, smallpox, anthrax (and light aircraft) or botulinum (and milk) it might be worth baking some cake while you still can.