Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank Your Maker + Perfect Mothers Day Cake

Thank your Maker
We start making things for our mothers long before we should be let loose on the concept of making anything. We embraced the tradition of mother’s day. At school we’d make gifts from macaroni pieces and pipecleaners. We’d craft terrible drawings with our non-toxic, obnoxiously coloured felt-tip pens and bits of glitter. In fits of rebellion, we’d make her clay ashtrays. My mother didn’t smoke, but when I made her angry, I’d often picture her with a pipe in her mouth, what with all her comments about smoke coming from her ears and all of that. I think my proudest moment was making something in the kitchen. I melted ice cream and stirred a disgusting amount of milo through it and called my creation the Mil-ice-o. I then poured it into a container, wrapped it, and left it for about five days before proudly presenting it to my lovely mum. When you are seven, refrigeration is highly overrated.

Then in pimply teenage angst, we’d write good ole mum letters, around the time she’d found our diary, or grounded us, which would run along the lines of:

Dear General,
Thank you for your continued enforced captivity over the years. It has been an invaluable learning experience for me and I hope to use all that you have taught me about self-discipline, self-motivation and self-medication to succeed in the future. Now can I please go to the party? If I don’t go, I might die. Seriously. Everyone else is going and I will be ridiculed – I’m the only person on the planet not going. My life is over and it’s all your fault. You ruin everything. Including my school uniform. It’s dirty and needs washing.
Your captive,
Corporal X5743E

PS. My skirt is not too short. It's perfectly acceptable and it will not give people the wrong idea.

Every year since, we have all struggled mightily with present-buying. Flowers can be a little messy. Sweets? It's not always safe to give her energy-enhancing foods. And an awful lot of other things – in fact, at last check, all of them – are, according to maternal lore, A Waste Of Money. But perhaps it’s true, those things are a waste of money and the best present we can give our mums, other than a Mil-ice-o (don’t knock it, it’s genius) is a big fat thanks.

So this year my gift to my mum is a few wee facts in print. Which are: you are singlehandedly the best person at making whites whiter than white (how mum, how?) You are the solver of all my problems; you annihilate my demons and know how to get rid of weeds from my herb garden and other weird helpful things that only mums seem to know. If I didn’t have you, I think my perilous state of being would fling wildly between emotional Hiroshima and feral beast. Happy Mothers Day mum, and thanks for everything.  Especially the tips for todays post.

This is one of my mum's favourite cakes - super simple and delicious spiced Apple Tea Cake
Photo by Armelle Habib

2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
220 g (7 3/4 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
125 g (4 1/2 oz) butter, softened
1 large egg
170 g (6 oz/1 cup) sticky raisins
225 g (8 oz/1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
60 g (2 1/4 oz/1/2 cup) chopped walnuts

To serve
icing sugar, sifted, for dusting or mascarpone

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Grease a 22 cm (8 1/2 inch) ring cake tin and line with baking paper.
Mix the apple with the sugar in a bowl and let stand for 3 minutes.
Combine the butter and egg in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in the apple mixture and the raisins and set aside. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and add to the apple mixture, stirring sparingly. Fold in half the walnuts, pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle on the remaining walnuts. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and/or a dollop of mascarpone.

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