Saturday, November 25, 2006

cake du jour - chocolate

My mother made a chocolate cake probably every other week. Chocolate cake made from a victoria sponge recipe with cocoa not drinking chocolate in the mix. The buttercream filling included Nescafe (dissolved in water at the bototm of a tupperware cup and poured into the butter and icing sugar - a plum job to make as the bowl required scraping after), and on high days and holidays there might be something involving melted cooking chocolate on the top. It wasn't very rich, it wasn't even very chocolatey, but there is no chocolate cake in the world better than one made by my mother. I remember shortly after I'd left home carrying half a cake back up to London, and putting it under my bed when I finally arrived at my damp bedsit. In the middle of that night I had to get out of bed to eat a slice, sitting on the floor in the dark, wishing I were still at home. From the age of about 10 I gave up requesting a traditional birthday cake of any description and settled for the chocolate. Even now if I remember I still send a request for chocolate cake ahead of me whenever I go home.

As kids we'd get a regulation thin slice, followed inevitably by another thinner one (spot the puritanical streak), and then it'd go back in the tin. Stacked in the cupboard under its matching blue biscuit tin. Later on I'd sneak into the kitchen and open the cupboard to ease myself inside and gently pull out the tin, levering off the lid then running my finger down the cut side to scoop out the buttercream filling, or even cut the thinnest slice possible off to eat some more. My silence would give me away. 'What are you doing in there?' she'd shout, and I'd stand there behind the cupboard door swallowing guiltily so I that could tell her 'Nothing'. She wasn't fooled. She never was, though I never got into trouble, exactly. I was just out of favour for a while. One of the advantages of age and my prolonged absence is that cake filching is now acceptable behaviour, and I no longer have to hide behind the cupboard door. 'What are you doing in there?' she still asks 'Evening it up a bit?' I reply. You can get away with a whole lot more after the first 30 years, I find.

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