Home baking. There is nothing quite like it. Things have been a bit grey round here recently, but a small act of kindness lifted my spirits no end last week. I was doing my usual veg deliveries when a customer appeared at her back door, holding a small, clear poly bag containing two little squares of millionaire's shortbread. "I've been baking," she said, handing them to me. I spluttered a thank you and promised to save them till after my lunch. Goodness knows why, I just felt the need to say more than just "thank you". But maybe that would have been enough. The picture on the left is of a surprise birthday cake made by a workmate last August; again, an act of kindness, by which I was really touched.
And later, while I drove through the countryside, doing the rest of my deliveries, I thought back to the kitchen at home, and my mum baking in the afternoons. I'm sure she didn't bake every afternoon, and I certainly can't have been there for many of them, as I would have been at school. But the memory is clear. Radio 4 on the radio; the afternoon play which no doubt she was trying to listen to. Only now do I understand of the lure of the afternoon play on Radio 4. Then, I would have been asking questions, or wondering if I could have more paper to paint on, or asking what was for tea. "Wait and see" was the answer. Always. So much so that I began to believe that "Wait and see" was actually a meal of some sort.
But, back to the baking. There were tray bakes, mainly. Broken biscuit cake, Sydney specials, Millionaire's shortbread (although we did not call it that way back then - I think we called it chocolate fudge cake, but am not sure.). Then there were buns. What we now call cupcakes, but to us they were buns - made in individual paper cases. Plain, or with sultanas or cherries. I don't recall them ever being iced. There were some things which my sister made - "date stodge" or date slice, and tablet. In those days we would have a "high tea" quite often, during the week - a main course of macaroni cheese or bacon and egg or ham salad, with bread and butter or toast and followed by home baking.
I have carried on the baking tradition, but do so less often and never tray bakes. It is mostly something to share with workmates or take to a gathering of some sort. Now there are fewer of us in the house, it doesn't seem worth the effort. Plus, it's probably better for us not to be eating too much cake! I tend to make banana loaf, or pear and apple cake - recipes gathered along the way, from a book I couldn't afford at the time, in a bookshop, and a friend made at antenatal group, respectively. Tomorrow it'll be a banana loaf to share with music-playing friends.