Feeding hearts

A’s grandfather died on the weekend.  This was not wholly unexpected but the impact is still the same.  There are lots of tears, hugs and laughter.  And I think there will be much much more over the next few days as the life of a wonderful, kind gentle soul is celebrated and remembered in many ways, small and big.

A part of the sharing memories is also sharing a cuppa and food.  So there are plenty of mouths to feed. I have been baking.  And baking.  And baking.

Did I mention I like to bake.  I am a good baker.  At times when I am on my very special high horse I may even say I am a very good baker.  I also like to feed people in times of need.

So our oven has been working overtime for days.  There is something very satisfying about turning out wonderful treats, and also having a large group of people who are only too willing to partake with a cuppa.

When I want to whip up good, hearty reliable baked goods there are three books I always turn to:

Each of these books offers something quite different but always reliable.

Alexa Johnston’s Ladies a Plate is a treat of a book.  Johnston has selected some wonderful recipes, which it is clear are tried and true.  There is a story with each recipe which gives the baker some history to how the recipe came about.  Everything I have baked from this book has turned out wonderfully.  What I love about these recipes are they are from a different era.  The use of eggs, butter and milk is scant, and you don’t end up with whopping great cakes which feed an army.  I often give this book as a gift – it is that good.

Over the weekend I made two recipes from this book, the Classic Sponge Sandwich and Miss Bennett’s Gingerbread.  My goodness.  All the sponges I have made in the past became concave messes (no horse riding those days – see above).  But these. These were light, airy, delicious cakes. And not that hard to make.  I haven’t tried the gingerbread yet, but it looks and smells amazing.  Coincidentally one of my colleagues made the exact same thing last night – which she has been inhaling.  So there must be something in it.

Here is a pic of the sponges.  To be frank they were scoffed too quickly for me to get a pic of them sandwiched with cream, jam and fresh raspberries – from the garden too.

Annabel Langbein’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake is my absolute go-to recipe when I have a crowd to feed.  It is a gorgeous, moist cake which is mixed wholly in the food processor.  Wonderful.

My ratty old copy of the Edmond’s Cookbook is a wonderful step back in time.  As you can see it is well-loved, and I remember cooking from it as a child often with my grandmother, mother or father.

Whenever I make eclairs I use the recipe in this book.   It is a simple recipe with easy instructions.  I remember vividly make this exact recipe as a ten-year old – and they still taste as good. Although this time I made a creme pattissiere rather than plain old cream to fill. Miss M helped me ice them with chocolate.

So lots of treats were produced.  Oh, and I whipped up this magnificent creation – a Sticky Date and Coconut Cake. A colleague brings this cake in for shared morning tea’s – and she put me on to the recipe.  It is moist, decadent and very, very good with a touch of cream.

So there you have it.  The result of a day or two in the kitchen.  Some full bellies as a result.  I figure, when people are creating new memories about the recently deceased, the last thing they should have to worry about is where the next meal or cuppa accompaniment is coming from.



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