I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Cakes and the nature of truth

The RRs suffer many afflictions, but rarely boredom. Books are always close to hand. Mrs RR, for instance, reads all the way to the south of France in the car when we go on holiday. I can read and write on all forms of public transport. But it was daytime, the road from Hereford to Worcester is a delight and we were highly perched on bus seats, taking in the view. And talking.

“What is the most photogenic cake you make?” I asked. Fifty-plus years of marriage have taught Mrs RR to treat my unexpected questions as potential snares. Having decided this could be taken at face value she averred it might well be Victoria sponge.

One reason for this post is that participle “averred”. I have never written it before.

Photogenic cakes had been on my mind for a while. Dimly I recall one cake where multi-coloured lumps of crystallised fruit are cast into the mix. The slices look like sections of mosaic. The name escapes me, as it does Lucy. At least she failed to respond when I asked.

An eternal verity flitted through my mind. Externally, many cakes resemble each other. To get the best of a cake, photographically, you have to remove a slice. This had never previously occurred to me and I felt a tiny thrill of discovery. Empirical proof is provided above.

Back home it seemed inevitable that Mrs RR should bake a cake. I watched. One anti-photogenic element is the glacĂ© cherry given its tendency to sink. I Googled for solutions, printed out the answers and showed them to Mrs RR. She said they were rubbish. The Victoria sponge emerged. I like it but not as much as seed cake which, due to the tininess of the caraway seeds, is non-photogenic. Can’t have everything. 


  1. The slice on the plate is smaller than the hunk missing from the whole cake. Where's the other piece?

    As if I didn't know.

  2. Crow beat me to it. It looks delicious enough to sneak an extra piece before the camera comes out.

    I've never heard of caraway seed cake. I love it in rye bread. Sure it's not poppy seed cake?

    I envy Mrs RR's ability to read in a car. I get carsick doing so, reading maps are my limit. Sometimes I wish I were knitter.

  3. Seed cake! I love it and no it's not poppy seed ML it's a worthy tradition, and goes deliciously with things like sherry. I've been reading Trollope and am now just waiting for it to make an appearance at some parsonage tea table. I made it for my dad's funeral; I wanted to make rock cakes because he used to sing us that song about the man going to his own funeral, but I'm sure I've told you this before. My mum wouldn't allow those but approved the seed cake.

    Sorry I didn't respond to the thing about the mosaic cake - which is not its name. I'm not quite sure what it is you're thinking of. You can get a thing like a cherry cake but with different colour bits like angelica as well as the cherries, or sometimes when I can't find or be bothered with fondant/royal icing (those packs of ready made fondant beloved of Jane Asher don't exist here) I just put marzipan on the Christmas cake and cover the top with glace fruit to create a stained glass effect, but I'm not quite sure if either is quite what you mean.

    That Victoria sponge is the stuff of dreams. I haven't made one for years. I tried scones yesterday but used spelt flour and they came out more like crumbly rock cakes, needing to be eaten with a fork. Tasted OK though.

    Ah, rock cakes! Ah, Eccles cakes, and Banbury cakes, and Bakewell tarts, coffee and walnut and all the endless varieties of sponge, to say nothing of rish fruit cake...

    British sweet baking is surely the best in the world, though say it in public internationally and STILL you get all the knee-jerk stuff about how we don't know how to cook and eat. But when our friend Isobel brought rock cakes to Tom's birthday party they disappeared down so many French necks before you could say 'currant', let alone 'raisin de Corinthe'.

    There, my responses may be erratic but when you get one you get one.

  4. The Crow: Well spotted, but badly inferred. Both of us had just prepared for lunch and mine ends with a slice of cake and two mugfuls of Colombian Fairtrade coffee in my William Morris patterned mug (something Lucy has been very kind about in the past) and made in the Krups percolator which you, dear Crow, will have a chance to read about via the back door (page 111, GT). Twas Mrs RR who'd taken her slice and left me to my photography.

    M-L: As you can see in Lucy's magnificent response it is caraway. And for exactly the reasons you felt dubious. Such seed cake is very subtly, adult-ly flavoured, not too sweet. I am sorry about your carsickness which condemns you to simply looking out of the car window: fine when you're passing through Banff, less so when the road ahead is dead straight and ends fifty miles away in Calgary.

    Lucy: You are forgiven about mosaic cake. I simply slipped the query in to one of my interminable comments at Box Elder and it's quite possible that weariness meant you never reached the end of it.

    But here's as gracious a compliment as I can muster. It's been quite obvious over the years that you're a cake-o-maniac; that cake (along with chocolate) is an indulgence. Now it is one of the seemingly ineluctable laws of writing that those of us who try to write, write worst about our enthusiasms. That the indulgence spills over into the prose. How delightfully you disprove this. Here's a cascade of well-chosen stuff and with it a campaign against a form of received wisdom that I had never thought about before.

    Tone Deaf issues its own Nobel Prizes for good comments and they have one advantage over the real thing: they emerge frequently, at the drop of my Rhine barge-captain's hat. Consider yourself a recipient. Alas there is a downside, there is no accompanying cheque. But knowing you I'm sure you are satisfied with your virtual medal.

  5. Lemon drizzle...

    Cheers for the fillip. Have we seen your Rhine boatman's cap? If not I think we should, if so it's time we did again.

  6. As a small child I r remember running about on the beach at Eastbourne where I met a family who offered me a slice of cake. "But ask your parents first." "What sort of cake" my
    parents said. I ran back to the family. "Sea cake," they said or so I thought.