And so it was, I found myself preparing to make a Gâteau Vert. Apparently it was Claude Monet's favourite birthday cake, though that didn't make me any more enthused. My mum spoke to me on Wednesday, and summed up the general mood when she asked "you're not going to make that cake with the spinach are you?". I urgently acquired pistachio essence (huge kudos here to a website I have never used before called StefChef who shipped it quickly, were competitively priced and had lovely customer service, I recommend them completely for any sudden pistachio essence needs you may have). I armed myself with pistachios, edible flowers, a huge amount of spinach, a bottle of kirsch and a receipt for nearly £30 which The Husband has not been privy to.
Oh this cake, can you tell I wasn't a fan? Everything I owned was green, there was a persistent odour of pistachio and spinach, it took forever and the worst bit of all, I'm not really sure I even liked it. The Husband rejected it outright at the mere mention of spinach, my parents valiantly tried it and said what a lovely flavour it had, and T devoured it but he is not exactly a discerning audience when it comes to cake. I didn't mind it, the flavour was pleasant enough, and there wasn't actually any taste of spinach at all. While that felt like a success of sorts, it also begged the question of why I had bothered to use it at all. I know the point of it was to colour the whole cake naturally, but it did feel slightly excessive to wilt and blitz and puree and squeeze spinach, particularly as since Monet's time we have developed the technology to allow purchase of a wonderful range of purpose-made food colourings.
It wasn't overly difficult, it was just long-winded, and I found myself getting thoroughly disheartened when I kept realising I had to grind yet more pistachios, or start adding spinach water to yet another bowl. There was another episode, much like with the Wagon Wheels, of making syrup while whisking an egg and then rapidly adding one mixture to the other, but that was about as complicated as it got. The marzipan was the nicest part, and overall it looked quite appealing but I fear my genoise was where the fault lay. It seems that I have not learnt from the Mokatines of 2015, and although it appeared entirely successful from the outside, as I sliced through the genoise, much of the middle was quite dense, and again I could see the occasional pocket of flour. I think I remain too tentative when combining the mixture, and I guess the stodgy central layer of genoise is what dried out the gateau and made it less palatable than it might otherwise have been.
The overall effect is quite pleasing visually, assuming you like the colour green on a cake, and I have learnt that edible flowers can make most things look appealing. I also managed to disguise the fact that despite buying a ridiculous amount of pistachio nuts I still managed to miscalculate and somehow ended up with barely any at the end with which to decorate the edge. However, I think it says it all when I admit that, even in a house with a cake-loving toddler and a permanently hungry pregnant woman, after a few days languishing on the counter, some of the leftovers ended up in the bin. And in a move that would make Monet despair, T and I spent an happy afternoon last week making packet mix fairy cakes and sticking edible Peppa Pig decorations on the top, a process which was both more enjoyable and more successful (and didn't result in any leftovers!). If, after all of that you are still keen to try, the recipe is here, and meanwhile I will aim to be more positive for bread week!