Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mack the Cake...Jaffa style

 Orange cake with Belgian dark chocolate buttercream and orange whiskey marmalade filling.
Lee Mack has made me pee my pants twice. To be fair the first time was shortly after giving birth, but the second--I have no excuse.

For those of you who do not know this funny man I implore you to get to know him. Start with The Sketch Show, then alternate between his sitcom Not Going Out, his stand-up shows Lee Mack Live and Going Out, and the panel show Would I Lie To You. He's the kind of funny you can laugh freely at without wondering if you've set women's rights back 50 years by doing so. That's not to say he isn't confrontational, or cheeky...just not disturbingly on the edge like many of his peers in his industry.

I have much to thank Mr. Mack for. First, for making me laugh so hard I had complete sphincter failure. And second, inspiring me to get back into writing. He did a short interview, posted on the BBC Not Going Out website, wherein he states:"...people will argue that there are loads of great female (comedy) writers but the truth is all the great female writers are busy...there are more men in comedy than women..." for some reason that struck a chord. In a good way. A little bell went off, "You're a writer. Try your hand at writing comedy." So I dived into books for writing comedy and sitcoms. I wrote an episode for a sitcom as practice and in a moment of delusion sent it on to the production company. I've been building a repertoire of sitcom and feature film synopses ever since. I'm no stranger to film. I have a masters degree in Cinema/TV production. But it has been collecting dust for a dozen years. It's nice to be back.

I was eager to read his autobiography because I wanted to know what it takes to get into comedy and if I had the goods. 

His autobiography reads like a timeline but he cleverly ends each chapter with conversations in script form with a psychiatrist...for, you know, (*whispering*) the touchy/feely bits. He says you don't have to be special to write comedy. But after talking it out with the psychiatrist he also worries he might have ADHD and mentions schizophrenia...both of which sound pretty special to me. Also "Mack" is a stage name not his real name, so he puts on someone else when he's writing or performing a "defense mechanism" (a term that comes up a lot).

So I gleaned from his psychiatrist that to make it in this business you have to be convinced your real life is normal, but put on the armor of a hyperactive alter ego with attention deficit so no matter what people throw at you, it isn't really you they're beating...and somehow that gives you the strength to persevere and keep getting back on stage until the beatings turn into sitcoms and theater tours.


As this information was sinking in, a line he says in an episode of Not Going Out kept playing over and over in my mind, "If I only had a Jaffa cake right now, life would be grand." Of course you like Jaffa cakes. They're the most schizophrenic treat on the planet. Are they a cookie or a cake? Probably a cookie at home but a cake for the fans.

Jaffa Cakes...sort of a sponge biscuit with orange jelly with a thin coating of chocolate.
Since we'll only really ever know the Mack side of his personna, cake it is. So, inspired by Lee Mack and his psychiatrist I created a version of a Jaffa Cake layer cake, but one that is more sophisticated than it leads on and without additives or a punishing chemical aftertaste...much like the man himself, I suspect.

In line with my series of posts on autobiography inspired treats, if Lee Mack was a cake he'd be an orange cake with Belgian dark chocolate buttercream and orange whiskey marmalade filling.

Cheers, Mr. Mack. And thanks for the laughs!

Orange whiskey marmalade
use buttercream to make a dam to prevent marmalade from oozing out the sides

Orange Cake with Dark Belgian Chocolate Buttercream and Whiskey Marmalade filling

Cake Adapted from Martha Stewart
Orange Whiskey Marmalade recipe
Dark Belgian Chocolate buttercream recipe (read *UPDATE for correct version)

Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
zest of 2 oranges
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. prepare 3 8" round cake pans (butter and dust with flour and add a parchment round to the bottom of pans)
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. in a mixer fixed with paddle attachment cream butter and sugar until fluffy
  5. add eggs one at a time scraping down the bowl after each addition and blend until smooth
  6. add vanilla
  7. add orange zest to flour
  8. add flour and yogurt alternately beginning and ending with the flour
  9. divide batter among pans
  10. bake 25-30 minutes until tops give a little bounce.
Let cool completely before filling and icing.
Prepare dark Belgian chocolate buttercream.

When layers are ready cut the tops to make and flat even surface. Use the buttercream to make a "dam" and prevent marmalade filling from oozing out. You don't have to cover the cake with buttercream if you prefer less icing. It's just as flavorful with some on top and the "dams" in between the layers.

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