Daily Archives: July 18, 2016

It’s been a while…


It’s been a while since the last time, which could be why I didn’t notice until it was too late…

This morning my brother Angus turned up unexpectedly and gave me a tub of redcurrants he’d collected from his allotment.

When he left I looked through a few recipes and decided to make a redcurrant cake.

It’s been a while since the last time…

so my baking powder was eight months past it’s sell-by date. I’d run out of eggs and I didn’t have a lemon or icing sugar, so I had to go out and buy several ingredients.

When I returned home I remembered that my daughter has most of my cake tins, but I have a big square one, and I thought it would be fine, though the mix may be spread a lttle thin.

It’s been a while since the last time…

so I hadn’t used my Kenwood Chef for several years. When I switched it on it sounded grumpy, and after a minute of disgruntled mixing, something inside it exploded.

It came as no surprise. I was given it over half my lifetime ago, in exchange for a dress that I made for a customer with little money, who had inherited the mixer, but she didn’t need it because she already had one.

It was old even then.

I switched the mixer off and left to to smoke, surprised by my feelings of relief. It was over – the death I had dreaded for so many years had finally arrived – and now my loyal Kenwood could Rest in Peace rather than in the Back of the Cupboard.

I disinterred my hand whisk from the murky depths of a drawer, gave it a wash and began beating the eggs into the buttery mix. When the handle detached itself from the whisk – as it does whenever it’s used – I remembered that I’d been meaning to replace it for some time. I pulled out a sturdy table fork and used that instead.

It’s been a while since the last time…

which was why I didn’t notice – until I’d mixed in the flour – that there was an awful lot of cake batter. That quarter of a kilo of Greek yogurt bulked it up a lot. Too late I remembered how generous German cake recipes are. Back when there were six of us in the house it was an advantage, but these days I live alone, and am trying to limit my sugar and fat consumption. It hadn’t occurred to me that after I’d made the cake there’d be nobody but me to eat it, and it would call to me from the kitchen, no matter what I was doing, and no matter how I tried to drown out its plaintive voice.

I placed half of the batter in the baking tin, added a layer of plump, jewel-like redcurrants, and topped the lot with the other half of the batter.

It pretty much filled up the tin. I put it in the oven.

While I cleared up the impressive amount of mess I had made, the flat filled up with the delicious smell of baking, and half-an-hour later I pulled the cake out of the oven.

It wasn’t thin. It was what some supermarkets refer to as party-size.

When it was cold I dusted it with icing sugar and cinnamon (the recipe suggested cardamom but my cardomom seems to have been absorbed into the atmosphere).

I cut myself a slice. It was delicious.

I took another slice. After all, it’s been a while…

It’s easy to resist bought cakes as I know they will always be disappointing, but home baked cakes are entirely different.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to have to take most of it over to my daughter Claire, and ask her to cut it in half and give half of it to her sister Sarah. Otherwise I’ll eat the lot in in no time at all.

It’s been a while since the last time I baked a cake, and now I remember why. It’s a shame, because I had a really good afternoon. I don’t care that my Kenwood Chef exploded and my whisk fell apart. I love baking.

©Jane Paterson Basil