There aren’t enough things in the world that make me go ‘Wow’ after just one mouthful. Too many cakes are average or dull; too many companies treading the same old routes.
As a result, when I see something different – with new flavours or textures or names – I tend to get a little bit excited. Sometimes, as with those Terroni Twists or that crazy Sugar Mouse Biscuit, this excitement leads to a terrible anticlimax, followed by hours of serious moping.
So it’s no wonder that I had mixed emotions while anticipating the next new and promising cake: the M’Hencha, made by Sophie’s Baked Delights, an artisan baking company based in Gloucestershire.
In theory, there was nothing to be afraid of. For starters, it sounded delicious: a Moroccan-style Pastry Cake, created with Rosewater, Almonds, Pistachios and various Zests (i.e. most of my favourite flavours).
Better yet, it had collected some major accolades: not only a Three-Star Gold Award from the Guild of Fine Foods, but a place on the Top 50 Foods in Britain list; the only cake on it, as far as I could see.
In other words, this was the best cake in Britain, as ranked by the Guild.
Let’s put the awards aside, however. I had a more pressing concern: would it satisfy the stomach of the Pud-Hog?
What if I thought the M’Hencha was boring? What if it didn’t live up to its title? Would my taste buds have to be decommissioned? Would I be shamed out of writing reviews?
As soon as I got my sample (no thanks to Royal Mail, who decided not to tell me it had arrived two days before!) I ripped the box open and took a deep sniff.
A promising smell of Rosewater drifted upwards and – despite telling myself that I should wait until after dinner, or at least warm it up for a bit – I couldn’t resist a small mouthful.
So how was it, I hear you ask?
It was ‘Wow’.
So Wow, that I said so aloud, to an empty room.
Somehow, despite having sat in the sorting office for two days, the M’Hencha was juicy with Almonds and Lemon Zest, bursting with fragrant Rosewater.
It took all my strength not to eat the whole thing right then, but I’d been advised to crisp it up in the oven in case of staleness (not that I could detect any), so I managed to ween myself off.
As it happened, in all the excitement of Chocolate Week, my next M’Hencha munching was postponed for yet more days. In the meantime, the goodies were safe in the freezer.
Yesterday I defrosted them at last, and popped them in the oven for ten minutes. No longer was I afraid of disappointment. And rightly so.
Sweet Rosewater perfumed the Hog House, while the Man and I pulled our steaming M’Hencha apart.
The warm coil of Pastry split, as soft as fresh-baked Bread, and the two of us gnawed in silence.
No wonder it went down so well with the Guild. Like a Baklava, but more delicate, the M’Hencha was crisp and perfectly moist. Crunchy with Pistachio, zinging with Citrus juices, not too sweet and not heavy in the slightest.
Twas sheer Pastry perfection – and just as exciting to taste as I’d hoped.
The question remains however: is the M’Hencha Britain’s best cake?
As outstanding as it was, I’m not sure I can truly say for certain: I need to nibble the rest of them before I can pass such a judgement…
In the meantime, if you fancy making that call for yourself, you can snap up a free sample on the M’Hencha’s very own website.
Go on, Ogglers – get in on the champion chomping.
That way, everyone wins.