A few weeks ago my sisters and I went to visit some old friends for dinner- My Mother has always told me never to go to someone’s house empty handed, so I did what I did best and asked my friend ‘A’ what his wife (I’s) favourite cake was- lemon cupcakes with a buttercream frosting. As we all sat nibbling nachos and playing Irish snap, I naturally began talking about my blog. ‘I’ stopped me mid-sentence and asked when and how I started baking. We’ve known each other for years and she claimed to have no recollection of me being such a cake-a-holic. Reflecting on this conversation I thought this would make a brilliant blog topic: My Cake Origins.
My earliest memory of home-made cakes was when I was no more than 7yrs old. Society often paints a quaint, picturesque scene of the Mother as Susie-Homemaker, but in my household Daddy could do one thing Mum hadn’t quite mastered- baking. (Yep, my Dad is a DIY-fixing-Accountant-Preacher that can bake!)
One of Dad’s specialities was vanilla sponge cake with a twist. This cake was not your ordinary sponge: the outside was a sandy-brown colour with firm crisp corners, but when served a bright pink or green colour illuminated from the inside! (There’s nothing like a splash of food colouring to keep the kids excited eh!) And there was always the lingering mystery as to what Dad’s secret ingredient was. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a vanilla cake, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on the unidentifiable taste. Was it nutmeg, cinnamon? The mystery remains unsolved…
Another one of Dad’s specialities is Ghanaian meat pies, oooh my mouth waters at the thought of it! Meat pies are a traditional Ghanaian snack, oftens sold by street vendors (and according to my Mum, best washed down with a glass of milk). Whenever Dad gets a ‘free weekend’ he either spends it sleeping, watching sports or at the gym. Or if our household is very lucky we’re blessed with meat pies! Made completely from scratch, a flaky brown pastry is folded over a fistful of seasoned corned beef. Every bite is sacred and every crumb is savoured. Pure perfection to my tastebuds. All other words escape me. You would have to be fortunate to even nibble at this delicacy to understand my love for it.
Then there was the summer of ’98 when my Grandparents came to visit from Ghana along with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin from NYC. My Grandma, like many Grandmas is brilliant at everything. But one of the areas she excels in the most is the kitchen. That summer the family were treated to fresh, weekly batches of Ghanaian doughnuts. (Again, nothing is ordinary when it’s a Ghanaian recipe) The doughnuts were small, round, deep-fried balls of gluttony. They were deceptive in their appearance because when consumed they actually sat like rocks at the bottom of my stomach! But my oh my, they were gluttony in the most delicious form. And not forgetting AuntyA who is a pastry chef in Manhattan NYC, surely that says it all. The summer of ’98 was not only a cupcakingly delicious time, but I grew a few inches too, sadly not in height!
The handful of baking influences in my family in my family was only the beginning of my baking habits. It was not until I moved out of the family home for University that I adopted a cake obsession. In my second and third year I lived with two fantastic bakers ‘A’ and ‘J’. When the mood struck them these girls would whip up the nuttiest choc chip and macademia cookies, madeira/chocolate cake, Cornish scones, or even a tropical flavoured sorbet. My word, this household was a cake-a-holics dream come true. If you came for dinner at our house wearing skinny jeans, you would be certain to leave wearing borrowed sweats! ‘A’ and ‘J’ were wizards in the kitchen and I longed to be just like them.
Unfortunately my baking skills did not come naturally and it took me at least a year’s practice to stop my cakes from falling, let alone looking and tasting as the recipe books described. But with a pinch of perseverance and a sprinkle of determination I learnt how to bake some pretty awesome cakes, and developed a love and passion for baking.
Home is where is the heart is, and home is where the baked goodies are too!
Love & Cupcakes,