I am a fan of the Roaring Twenties, and I was very excited when Baz's movie of The Great Gatsby was finally released. I had to wait a while to see it, but see it I did last weekend - and I loved it.
Baz's movie has been criticised because it lacks the subtlety of the book. I on the other hand think that Baz's big, brash style is perfect for bringing to life the opulence and excesses of the era. Besides, if the movie tried to be as subtle as the book, people who had not read the book would not understand great chunks of it. The Great Gatsby was a set text for me in grade 10 at school under the late, great Mr Penny. I re-read it before seeing the movie, but many of my friends and acquaintances had never read the book, so Baz's movie is a perfect vehicle for introducing the story to them.
It was only the tiny details that irritated me a little - for instance, in the book, Jordan had hair the colour of a gold autumn leaf and Daisy was dark haired, but the movie reverses and changes this. Myrtle as played by the lovely Isla Fisher was not middle-aged and voluptuous. Gatsby was not shot while lying on an air mattress. However, apart from the details about Myrtle (which I think are important to understanding her motivations), these are but minor details that do not detract from the story. I loved the movie, and I'd see it again.
In keeping with the theme of the Roaring Twenties, which is "so hot right now", Kiki Bee has released a fun cookbook called Bootleg Bakery: Wickedly Boozy Treats Inspired By the Roaring Twenties. I can't resist a somewhat tongue-in-cheek but fun cookbook, so I bought it, and was not disappointed. There is all manner of fun, boozy recipes in the book, including the Shimmy Sherry Shakewell (a boozy take on the Bakewell Tart), Fluttering Green Fairy Cakes (who can forget Kylie's absinthe fairy?), and for Mad Men fans, the Old Fashioned, Refashioned.
However, the cake that caught my eye first up was the Pimms O'Cake (p12), as I am a fan of Pimms and Lemonade. For the uninitiated, the makers of Pimms have a series of advertisements whereby time for Pimms is "Pimms O'Clock". (My favourite is this one which screened when I was living in London.) Accordingly, the name of this cake is a play on the Pimms O'Clock slogan.
I made the cake into 6 standard sized cupcakes (see photo at the top of this post), and frosted them with Pimms flavoured buttercream (unpictured), which departs from the unfrosted cake in the book. (My reason for this was not that I love frosting, but more that I wanted to test a piping technique.) Instead of drowning the cakes in Pimms syrup, as the recipe called for, I added Pimms to the mixture.
These little cakes were quite delicious in their own right, but primarily because I didn't use the syrup (because I wanted frost-able cakes), they didn't really taste much like Pimms. However, if you would like to try the original recipe, it is as follows:
4 beaten eggs
225g self raising flour
grated zest and juice of an orange
grated zest and juice of a lemon
a handful of freshly chopped mint
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a 450g loaf pan.
In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time.
Sift the flour over the batter and fold it in carefully with a rubber spatula, then fold in the orange and lemon zests and chopped mint. Add 50ml of Pimms to the mixture, pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, and bake for 40-50 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make a Pimms syrup by combining the remaining Pimms and orange and lemon juices in a jug.
When the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then unmould it onto a wire rack, and turn it right side up. While the cake is still hot, prick the top of the cake all over with a skewer and pour the Pimms syrup over the cake slowly, giving the liquid time to soak in. If you want an authentic Wimbledon and punting on the Thames feel, when the cake is cool, decorate it with sliced strawberries and mint leaves.