Recently when Channel 4 announced that Gordon Ramsay would be heading to Brixton Prison to bake cakes with prisoners, there was a collective national cringe at the idea. Then the programme aired and it was slightly uncomfortable to watch. Then Cafe Nero agreed to trial some lemon treacle slices in a number of stores to see how they sold. Then the programme ended, and now, a few weeks later my work colleague Kirsten who lives near one of the chosen Nero’s bought me a slice, which have become increasingly difficult to secure.
If you came to this slice with none of the back story you wouldn’t know Gordon had anything to do with it as he doesn’t feature on the packaging at all, so the true celebrity here is going to be a prisoner called David. David is quoted on the box saying ” Even though I’m in prison, this course has made me happy inside. When I get up it makes me want to do something with my life. For the first time it’s made me feel proud of myself. I can be something.”. David is 40 and if what he says is true and it really has given him a sense of purpose for the first time in his 40 years, then even a Daily Mail reader could not fail to see the value. David’s quote confirms what the rest of us have known all along – cake ends crime.
I’d be willing to bet that since filming ended Gordon has not been seen in a prison kitchen anymore than he has been seen at Royal Hospital Rd, but in both instances he has created a legacy so let’s be thankful for that! Anyway enough preamble, onto the tasting…
The packaging is simple and attractive and the slice looks equally good. Although neat and perfectly portioned, it does have a home made look to it, which is a refreshing change to uniform factory production. The slice I got looks like it came from the corner of the baking tray and consequently has some burnt edges, undetered I took a bite. My intial fears were confirmed, the slice did have a bitter overdone taste to it, but happily that was just at the edge. The main body of the slice was moist, treacly and sweet, but not crazily sweet. I would have liked more lemon flavour as some extra sharpness would have taken the edge off the sweetness, but that’s just me. The base was, to quote Greg Wallace, a buttery biscuit base, it was crumbly and only just held together but delicious in its own right.
I loved the homemade nature of these cakes and like that the next one I try could be very different. I hope they manage to meet demand (the slices are always selling out) and manage to expand the programme. I know they have other products making their way to independent cafes too, such as Ben’s Canteen, which I think could be the way forward. Well done celebrity prisoners and well done Gordon for getting the thing off the ground.
Gordon Ramsay/Bad Boys Bakery Lemon Treacle Slice – £1.65 from Cafe Nero (who are taking no profits from it)
7/10 (8 if it isn’t burnt)