Saturday, 6 July 2013

A Year of Lemon Cakes by Lynda Waterhouse

When my life gets too hectic and writer’s block looms, I take a deep breath and bake.  Saturday is my baking day. I begin by sitting down and browsing my recipe books. Peyton and Byrne’s British Baking is a current favourite.
Then, after a quick check of the cupboards for ingredients I clean my tiny kitchen. Surfaces must be cleared. I carefully tie on my pinnie and sling a tea towel over my shoulder.  I light the oven and carefully organise each ingredient in a separate white china bowl in front of me. This attention to detail is important. When I am reassured that I have everything I need in front of me before I start, Frugal Husband helps me to weigh and measure. We put on ‘cooking music’. I assume the role of Frannie Craddock and boss husband.
Time expands. My heart rate slows down. Nothing else matters apart from the correct construction of the cake.
Unlike a messy plot line or a character that won’t behave, baking for me is an art that can be controlled and measured. It is not plain sailing. There is just the right amount of unpredictability to keep things interesting. The flat fills with a warm comfortable smell. I remove the beautiful glass cake stand that I ‘borrowed’ from my mother’s house to display the cake. Eating the cake is almost immaterial. I like to share it with friends or present it as a gift. Baking reassures me that I am creative and what I produce is worthy of consumption.
Last Saturday at West Square Summer Fair I bought A year of Lemon Cakes from the proud mother-in-law of the author.
Hilary, who bakes for the cake stall, came up with the idea of giving her friend a certificate for a different lemon cake every month throughout 2012. The names of the cakes sound wonderful. There is a Roasted Lemon Cake, Lemon and Cardamom, Lemon Roulade, Lemon and Thyme and even Lemon and Courgette.
Inspired by Hilary’s book I did spend a lot of time constructing an elaborate theory about the uses of lemons in different recipes and the creation of a character but decided to make Hilary’s Quick Lemon Curd instead.


Joan Lennon said...

You draw such a warm, rich picture - thank you!

Sue Purkiss said...

Yum! I think painting - house-painting - works a bit like that for me. So satisfying - you do it right, and the result isn't in question - a lovely clean shiny banister rail or wall!