Friday 17 April 2015

Let them eat cake, by them I mean me :)

I'm pretty sure most people I know think that life is better with cake. Apart from the gluten intolerant ones of course. They can only look at real cake enviously and wonder what a soft sponge is like and why life is so unfair. I kid, it's not funny and there are some pretty awesome gluten free cakes now. In face I'm sure one of the Bake Off challenges has been to make edible and tasty gluten free cakes. The phenomenal success of the Great British Bake Off is proof of our national love of all things cake related. When it's on I tend to be more inspired to bake at home, but I do have a few favourite cake recipes I stick to all the time.

I go through phases of making my own cakes and have been known to make muffins, brownies, banana loaf and used to make a lot of decorative birthday cakes following recipes from a Mary Berry baking book that I borrowed from the library years ago. However, I am also partial to nostalgia cakes and am not at all snobby about buying rather than making them for myself. My joy was stratospheric last week when the postman delivered this pretty parcel. It contained a selection of delicious Mr Kipling cakes including Viennese Whirls, Bakewell Tarts and my favourites - French Fancies.

My love of cake is such that on a semi regular basis me and my lovely friend SJ take in in turns to choose a venue for a posh afternoon tea as a special treat. I arrange childcare (Hubbie takes the boys to watch football usually) and we meet up and spend hours enjoying nice tea and delicious sandwiches and - of course - scrumptious cakes. It is always nice when someone else makes the effort for you. It's enough effort for me to pop a teabag in a mug never mind make a pot of tea so there's a very slim chance that I'd take the time to cut the crusts off sandwiches at home. I do, however, sometimes treat my boys to an 'afternoon tea' at home. I get out the nice cake stands and clear some space on the dining table that is always covered in stuff so we can sit and eat. Hubbie chooses a nice herbal tea, I pick a posh black tea and then we get to the heart of the matter. The star of the show. The reason we are even doing this thing. The cakes !

I've been a fan of Mr Kiplings cakes since I was a child. Theirs was the first apple pie I ever tried and the first bakewell tart. On the rare occasions when my Mum let us have fondant fancies we all had our favourite flavours. When we visited my Mum on Friday I took a box of them with me to share with everyone. My Mum has always been a fan of tea and cake and whenever we go there however much we have eaten for lunch she will still put on the kettle and serve cake before we head home. On this occasion it was a lovely sunny afternoon so we sat outside to take tea in garden with my parents.  I don't let my boys eat cake that often so when I offered these to my older boy he was delighted and he went for a pink one, Hubbie took a chocolate one and I instinctively went for the lemon. My sister laughed and said, "I should have known you would have that one, you always did." It is true and the bane of my life was that you'd never get enough lemon ones in a box so I'd have to ration myself. Can you imagine my delight when I found that you can get a box of only Lemon Fancies ? Now I get to have as many as I want. Don't even get me started on the big fondant fancy cake - I finally tried it last year and it made me very happy indeed.

I've probably established that a love of cake pretty much defines my very existence, but I hope that this last demonstrates that it's not an entirely selfish escapade on my part. Every week I have a standing date for a 'tea and chat' with my lovely neighbour Jill. When we moved into this house our boy was one year old and the lovely retired couple next door were so kind to us. Jill and her late husband Phil noted with delight how he grew, began to walk, learned to talk and became cheekier with every passing week. We would sit in the garden in the summer drinking wine while our boy ran around and would find any excuse to meet up for tea and cake. Phil was such an interesting man and I was so sad when he told me he had been diagnosed with cancer. He went from vibrant, funny and energetic to weaker and reclusive then after a period of illness he passed away. I would still ask Jill if she needed any help with shopping or a lift anywhere (she hates driving) or anything really. She would say she was fine so I'd leave it. I would invite her for tea and cake and she would pop in to see the boy and to have a natter. One day she mentioned that Phil would have loved to see how much our boy has grown and when he was very ill and we didn't see him so often he said he could hear our boy chatting over the garden fence and it made him smile. We call Jill 'spare granny' and she loves it. Once a week I get some nice cakes in and we have a catch up over a cup (or two) of tea. I offer cake and Jill says, "Oh, not for me," but every now and then she will indulge. I can honestly say that even though we'd meet up anyway the cake does make it feel a bit special and I like to make the effort for someone who means so much to us.

Life is definitely better with cake - whether it's indulgence or nostalgia or spending time with someone special.

I'm going to put on the kettle, I'm feeling a bit peckish :)

This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge (, sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at 

1 comment:

  1. I love that you have a sense of occasion. Afternoon tea is always on my list of treats. Such a poignant and wonderful story of neighbourliness too. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.