All the women in our family were cake makers! My fondest memories are of helping her place pineapple rings in the bottom of the tin for upside down cakes that seemed to permanently reside in her sideboard.
Every summer we'd be carted off to Porto to spend our holidays and without fail there would always be a cake to go with our 4 o'clock tea. Moist, yellow, fluffy, buttery cake flesh... I can still smell it and it brings me feelings of joy, of being safe and loved.
|Nan's was very similar but minus the cherries... thankfully she also wasn't a fan of glacé fruit!|
I'm pretty sure we didn't bake a cake every day and I'm not sure how she managed to always have a cake in there... it was like a self reproducing cake that multiplied itself in the cupboard! Hum, possibly a bit of magic happening there too!!!
My gran was an Anglophile and absolutely loved the whole "cream tea" pomp. Not that she wasn't proud of her Portuguese heritage but our family has a deep connection with England, its language and traditions. Speaking of traditions there's also a tradition similar to afternoon tea in Portugal known as"lanche" which is pared down and less of a ceremony though it's still something which people partake in daily. Well not so much now but the more traditionalists do. It's a bit like a snack to keep you going until dinner but mainly consisting of eating something cakey along with a cup of milky coffee or tea, bread and cheese or simply tea and toast.
I can still picture her, she was a slight build woman with dark twinkly eyes framed by always beautifully coiffed jet black hair with a wide Cheshire cat of a smile asking as she poured the amber nectar from her flowery tea pot into thin china cups: "Do you know who introduced tea to the English? It was our queen, Catherine of Bragança! Back then they were drinking ale... it was us who gave them tea! ".
By the age of six I started baking my own cakes in my favorite toy ever... The Betty Crocker"Easy Bake" toy oven.
Ahhhh...the "Easy Bake oven"! It actually worked by cooking the batter with the heat of a light bulb but obviously there is a limit to what a light bulb can bake.
The cake tins were tiny and there was a knack of getting them in and out of the small slits on either side without burning yourself. Ah yes, those were dangerous times with dangerous toys but that set me on my way to experimenting with recipes and making up my own!
Unfortunately the "Easy Bake" oven due the non existing temperature regulation options delivered mostly burnt cakes which were flat and hard as a rock but they did introduce me to baking and ignited a passion which is still burning, unlike my "Easy bake" oven which is long gone!
Also I've been looking into the psychological benefits of baking. It's quite easy to lose yourself in cake making, and like knitting and other crafts, it's quite easy to find a flow while conjuring up the sweet stuff! It's a practice I'm keen to explore further -and one I already work with but within arts and crafts disciplines. I truly believe that there's a meditative quality about baking plus at the end you get to taste the benefits too!
My grandmother is no longer here and regretfully her recipes have been misplaced, forgotten or discarded by relatives, a great inheritance and treasure lost forever! I just wish I had paid more attention or written it all down when I stood next to her in her kitchen creaming butter and sugar together to form the basis of her "Perpetual pineapple cake".
As an homage to my beautiful paternal grandmother Maria Adelaide who was also a fervent animal lover I decide to set up a blog with recipes of some of my favorites that she baked and also to help me find a greener way of living. I've been a vegetarian for the past 27 years and after all this time I've now decided to go a step further and go -pardon the pun!- full hog and go vegan!
So here it is, this blog will work not only as a diary, a place to muse and share memories but also to share my recipes/experiments and even failures because we can bake awesome cakes with a little know how, a bit of experimentation and without the use of any animal produce!
Please feel free to share your recipes too and together we can bake a better, greener, sweeter and less cruel world...
This blog post has been edited on the 27th/11/2017
Previously this blog was used for general cake recipes -all vegetarian- but as the idea of this blog has slightly changed I've decided to still use this address. It had been "Let them eat cake" but still retains the magic and passion I have for baking! Thanks for reading :)