You know sometimes you just need to bake a lemon drizzle cake? Haven’t felt like that since I became ill, but today woke up knowing that it had to be done. No more procrastination.
Baking is in the blood – my uncle ran the village bakery in France and one of my earliest memories is of my great-grandmother, Pauline, sitting with a vat of egg whites to whisk –monter en neige- ready for all the Sunday specials when people would come in and buy treats for the family or for guests they were visiting for lunch. I can still hear the sound of the whisk against the metal, she never seemed to tire. I’d have a go sometimes and after a minute or so, she’d take over again, smiling at my puny wrists.
My aunts play competitive cake games; the favourite is a creme caramel sponge, which has the magic of a sliceable sponge with a creme caramel on the bottom. Vanilla, chocolate or almond flavour.
Dad was the cake maker on this side of the Channel, everything from rum babas to Christmas cake. I’ve always loved baking, the mysterious alchemy of eggs, flour, sugar and butter. My friend Kath and I started baking at church to raise ten grand for a new minibus. Cake sales every month – fairy cakes, carrot cakes, scones, sponges, drop scones,and of course lemon drizzle. The lemon drizzle were her speciality and she taught me how to make them to perfection. Equal amounts of caster sugar and margarine (much better result than butter) creamed to floating lightness. Then eggs beaten in one at a time, before adding the zest of a lemon and same amount of flour. Into a moderate oven until skewer comes out clean. The real magic begins. When still hot, poke with a skewer and pour a mix of lemon juice and icing sugar into the holes. Leave until completely cold. They freeze well too.
I haven’t baked for a while so had to go and buy the ingredients. I used Kath’s recipe and thought of the many happy hours we had spent baking together and running the cake stall. When she died we had a cake stall in her honour, with her photo on the stall surrounded by flowers and cup cakes and we took the best part of three hundred pounds that day. Today I used my Dad’s electric whisk to cream the marge and sugar and his cake tins.
Had a couple of slices to make sure they passed muster. Could feel all those bakers smiling and nodding around me. I’ve just found the recipe for the creme caramel cake, written by my aunt on a postcard. That has to be next.
Still no great shakes at whisking egg whites by hand, mind you.