“ Type: Breads/Cakes „
Up to now the only things Ive ever really resented buying have been Birthday Cards (for a small sheet of card folded into two they cost an absolute fortune a rip off). Well now there is another item added to the List the Manchester United Celebration Cake at £6.98 a rip off to end all rip offs.
Whenever I usually buy a Birthday cake I normally purchase the Asda Chocolate Birthday Cake cos not only is it absolutely delicious but you also get quite a lot of cake for your money. This week I thought Id be different, one of my nephews birthdays. Hes a real Manchester United Fan (I make no comment as to his allegiances save to say that for a netball team theyre not bad .). I literally had the Asda cake in one hand when my eye caught a bright red box with Manchester United all over it. It looked appreciably smaller than the Asda one and cost only 50p more (there is logic there somewhere Ive been struggling to work it out ever since I bought it ) Well there were only going to be four us to eat it so what the hell One Manchester United Cake duly purchased.
The Cake was in the trolley and the deed was done. So what had I got for my £6.98, a 22cm x 22cm x 8cm box, the cake inside was, of course, appreciably smaller than the box. The box proudly proclaimed that it was Manchester United Official Merchandise (clearly the club doesnt care about its fans being ripped off) and stated that it was a moist, Genoese Sponge Cake coated with sugar paste and filled [not a literal interpretation but well come to that later] with Butter cream and Strawberry Jam. The cake itself was bedecked in Manchester United Colours with the club crest and pictures of some of the players in the icing on the top, there was a Red Tape/band around the sides with free (the generosity of these people) stickers on the cake band. The whole thing was on a cake board and iced all over.
So the first job was to get it out and open. Removing the Cake Band (with the free stickers tacky bits of paper) was the first challenge. Unfortunately removing the band also removed half of the icing from the sides. Once cut the cake appeared to be a sponge, split into two with a very thin filling of butter cream with an even thinner layer of Jam with icing on the top and sides. The sponge looked quite appetising.
So what did it taste like average certainly not almost £7 (why do they do that £6.98 just call it £7) worth. The extremely sweet icing almost wiped out any taste of the sponge. Indeed the whole thing was extremely sickly and sticky, if you eat any you need to clean your teeth afterwards. So I removed the icing and tried it without. In all fairness it was a moist sponge (Im not so sure about the Genoese bit it tasted like the average shop bought sponge to me). I have a reasonable palette but I couldnt work out what sort of jam was actually in the cake (the box said Strawberry so Ill give them the benefit of the doubt). The sponge tasted OK (on a very arbitrary scale 7 out of 10). It was moist, yet light and not too sweet. It was not, in my humble opinion, worth £7, or indeed anywhere remotely resembling £7(I would expect to pay around £4 from the average bakers).
The box called for closer inspection. The cake is made under licence (from Manchester United) by Elisabeth the Chef. Website www.elisabeth-the-chef.co.uk I had a look at the website they appear to make a variety of these sorts of cakes, All the Premiership Clubs, Barbie etc. Something I found really interesting was that nowhere on the box did it give me the weight of the cake. So I weighed it 800g. Surprisingly the nutritional information suggested that the cake was designed for 12 portions (66g a piece). Call me difficult but how many people eat portions that small. Personally I would have thought 8 portions maximum (thats still less than 4ozs each). Why do they do that is it some sort of con to persuade us that its better value than it really is .
Talking of nutritional information you may have guessed that its not the healthiest item on the planet, but then what cake covered in sugar with sugar in the middle is going to be:-
Energy 396Kcal (I have to say lower than I expected)
Of which Sugars 55.8g (I did tell you)
Of which Saturates 4.2g you cant beat a bit of saturated fat for the heart condition
Normally I wouldnt list all of the ingredients but here I think its important to do so:-
Sponge (44% - that leaves almost 56% for the added sugars in the icing etc) Sugar, Wheat Flour, Whole Egg, Vegetable Oil, Lactose and Milk Protein, Soya Flour, Humectant [E420], Emulsifiers [E471, E475], Raising Agents [E450, E500], Salt, Flavourings, Preservatives [E202, E282]
Sugar Paste (37% - loads of sugar), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (contains emulsifier E471), Water, Humectant [E422], Invert Sugar Syrup, Stabiliser [E413], Acetic Acid, Acidity Regulator [E262], Flavouring
Butter Cream (9% - more sugar), Sugar, Butter, Glucose Syrup, Water, Wheat Starch, Dried Egg White, Stabiliser [E406], Citric Acid
Strawberry Jam (5%), Glucose Syrup, Strawberries, Sugar Syrup, Gelling Agent [E440], Colours [E163, E150a], Acidity Regulator [E330],
Edible Plaque (the icing bit with the photograph on), Sugar, Glucose, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Invert Sugar, Water, Emulsifiers (E414, E471, E415], Humectant [E422], Colours [E104, E122, E133, E153].
Over 20 different E Numbers.
Suitable for a vegetarian diet, not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
I have to say that had I stopped and read the Box in the shop I would not have bought the cake. I am not a chemist or a food scientist. I have no idea what those E numbers actually equate to. In my experience responsible manufacturers put the chemical name next to the E number unfortunately this particular company doesnt (they cant even be bothered to put the weight on the box). What is the point in putting a list of meaningless numbers, how can that possibly help parents make sensible decisions. What is clear from the ingredients is that there is loads of sugar in various forms, sugar, glucose Syrup, Invert Sugar etc not to mention quite a bit of fat, including rather worryingly hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil contains Trans Fats which have a "strong and reliable connection to coronary heart disease" [wikipedia]. The Concern is so great that by the end of 2007 most of the major supermarkets will no longer include Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil in their own brand products. Whether Elisabeth the chef will do likewise remains to be seen.
So do I recommend it. No I dont. To me it was an average cake sold for a premium price (obviously aimed at exploiting, in every sense of the word, the loyalty of Manchester United Fans), although in fairness the children thought it was great. The fact that a product may be unhealthy doesnt usually deter me from recommending it, lifes too short eat, drink and be merry unfortunately here it does. Ultimately we as Adults have to take responsibility for what our children eat, the massive amounts of sugar coupled with the list of meaningless E numbers is enough for me. I dont know whats in it I cant recommend it. Will I buy it again. No next time Ill go back to the Asda old faithful, Ill recommend that any day of the week. I may even buy one so that I can Review it