It’s raining, so I want to bake. The moment those rain clouds gather, I just want to make myself a nice cup of tea, put BBC Radio 4 on (hurrah for Tune In Pro radio app!) and bake. I don’t know why I have this Pavlovian baking response to rain; maybe because baking is cosy and reassuring and when the weather is awful I can hunker down inside and get a warm glow (literally!) from baking a cake in the oven.
Of course, by the time I have got out all of my flours, sugars, flavourings, etc. from the cupboard and pulled my adored KitchenAid stand mixer towards me on the worktop, I have decided that really I need to make at least two cakes, or a large cake and a batch of cupcakes, to make it worth the effort. So I do.
And every time I bake, I think of my grandmother. Although I didn’t do much baking with her as a child, I always associate cake with Nanny because every time I visited her house, I would get a piece of cake. Every time. Which sounds great, except that her cakes really weren’t very good! Nanny only made three types of cake: a banana bread that always had a slight grey tinge to it; a sort of bakewell tart – the sponge and jam were good but the pastry was always pretty bad!; and a chocolate cake with chocolate icing – my particular favourite, even when she would take it from the freezer, pop it in the ‘micro’ (as she liked to call her microwave) to defrost it ,which would result in a still frozen solid centre, warm squidgy sponge around the edges and melted chocolate icing. Still, it tasted good! And wow, were her cakes stodgy. She once handed my father a bag on a visit to us one day and as he took it he jokingly asked what was in it, rocks?!, as it was so heavy. No just a few cakes I made Nanny replied matter-of-factly, not put out at all!
Nanny passed away a few years ago now – I still miss her dreadfully but at least I can remember her every time I bake. So this article is for you, Nanny.
You can find photos of some of my baking efforts on my ‘A Piece of Cake’ Pinterest board.