Rarely does real life live up to the promise of what books or movies describe. Take the case of Enid Blyton’s food for example. Which of us has grown up not salivating over “potted meat” sandwiches, tomatoes,scones and lettuce – even those of us who were highly vegetarian?
I know a little girl who went to England when she was about ten years old, still in the throes of the Famous Five’s picnics, the “steak and kidney” pies, “tinned sardines” and ginger beer, insisting that the grandparents (who lived there) get her all these amazing goodies to eat.
The grandparents, poor things, having already gone through the rigours of “British cooking, tried their best to dissuade her. “Are you quite sure you want it, dear? It’s not all that it’s pumped up to be; let’s have pizza instead”. Or maybe – since these were the days before pizzas became as ubiquitous as they are today – let’s have curry instead (whatever ‘curry’ is ) – remember the setting is England!
The child however, who had already sent letters off to Mallory Towers and St.Clair’s believing quite firmly in the existence of these, would not be dissuaded. So off they went – to a steak shop and ordered exactly what she wanted – steak and kidney pie. I don’t have to do any cutting a long story short stuff – because the story only lasted for about ten seconds after the waiter set down the dish in front of her with a cheery, “Here you go, darling”. Our young friend cuts into it, looks around to see if the restaurant has some drainage problem (the smell, you see), decides not to let a bad drain come in the way of her dream meal and puts a forkful in her mouth. She lasted for all of the ten seconds it needed for her to get to the washroom – she hadn’t known that kidneys performed a certain essential but unmentionable function, you see, or that the smell of said function might continue to waft out the cooked fellas!
But that is a sad story. One where reality not only lived up to expectation but surpassed it is the story of the seed cake! The first time i tasted this was the home of an elderly Anglo-Indian aunt – a friend of the family whose name was Miss Mary (really!) but who was universally know as Baba aunty.
The cake itself looked lovely – golden and full of tiny little seeds with more fragrance than anything so tiny has a right to possess but when you bit into it – omg – the sheer luxuriance of flavour that burst in your mouth was enough to transport you right back to Blyton’s England of the 1930s!
I’ve experimented hugely but i think i’ve got it right.
Maida (plain flour) – 150 gm
Cornflour – 30 gm
Table butter – 100 gm
Eggs – 3
Powdered sugar (easier to cream!) – 180 gm
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Caraway seeds (these look like tiny shahijeeera seeds but have a strong aniseed-y fragrance) – 1.5 tsp
The cake is made as usual – cream butter and sugar together till light and fluffy, add eggs and mix, fold in flour. Add caraway seeds and vanilla. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for about 30 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
This is a fantastic teatime, coffeetime or anytime at all cake 🙂
And i promise it really tastes better than even Enid Blyton can make it sound!