It’s been two years since I baked a chocolate cake. And two years since my younger son left to travel around New Zealand.
But I’ve just finished decorating the cake I baked this morning because … he’s on his way back! Both my boys are coming home today – and what is home without a chocolate cake in the tin?
My mother baked every day when we were growing up. Like many Scottish families at the time we ate “High Tea” rather than dinner. Lunch was the main meal of the day and when we ate at 5.30pm, straight after the afternoon milking, it was a savoury dish followed by a cup of tea and a selection of Mum’s scones, pancakes, “angel” cakes with sponge wings, sultana cake, and sometimes shortbread or Victoria sponge.
Occasionally there would be rich Sacher Torte or her pièce de resistance, an apricot tray bake which was in such demand at local charity “Bring and Buy” sales, a black market formed amongst the local clientele and it was auctioned and hidden before it ever reached the sale table! I have her (classified) shortbread and pastry recipes but I’ll never match her skill or lightness of touch.
I look back now and wonder a) how none of us became obese and b) how she found the time to bake on top of managing a large family and helping run a farm. The answer to a) is probably that we all did physical work on the farm and portions were small by today’s standards. And as for b), I realise now that, in part at least, baking was her creative outlet. Mum never ate the cakes or sweet things herself and we took the home baked food for granted; anything “shop bought” was regarded as inferior. Her delicious food was always devoured. But I wish we’d praised her more.
I’m living in a rented house at the moment with all my favourite dishes and utensils packed away in storage, so I’ve had to borrow the tins and the beaters today, and make do with strange bowls and tools. That’s my excuse for the cake not looking perfect.
But really, I doubt the boys will notice.