My mother makes the most epic cake. Actually to be honest everything she makes is pretty epic. She’s the best cook I know, hands down, and she single handedly ruined eating other people’s food for my sister and me. She understands ingredients, is always abreast of food trends and ideas and feeds everyone with generosity and love. So when she cooks, she really cooks. Which is what she did for her birthday lunch last week.
After cavorting at Wilderness, I drove straight to my mother’s cottage on last Monday morning to help celebrate her birthday: wholly serendipitously Cornbury Park where the festival was held is only twenty-five miles away from where I grew up so there was no excuse for missing her birthday. Billy, as you can see, was on top form. He’s resting after the very exuberant effort of greeting me, under the David Austin Eglantyne rose that I bought for my mother.
I felt bad because she cooked all morning for her birthday lunch. Not so bad however that I didn’t eat everything in sight.
I arrived to a typical Muv statement: ‘I’ve made some Ottolenghi recipes, but I thought I might just make a Daupinoise just in case‘, as she opened the oven to show a ginormous dish of potatoes and cream. (I should point out that it’s looking particularly crispy because I like it almost burnt around the edges.) There was a delicious Ottolenghi salad of green beans, chilli, nigella seeds, and rocket, and his cauliflower fritters. (We liked the fritters well enough, but typically all three of us spent about thirty minutes discussing how we would improve them.)
There was also an audience.
And then there was cake. One of my mother’s specialities is what the English call a whisked sponge, but the Americans know as Angel cake. Basically a fatless sponge, made light with beaten egg whites and baking powder. I’m terrible at them: I always end up with rubbery discs, but my mother’s are technically perfect and bloody delicious.
Our family tradition is to eat it sandwiched with whipped cream and strawberries, but this time we had creme fraiche and raspberries.
Les chiens do not differentiate between available snax. Cake is just as good as the gratin I hand fed to Billy when my mother wasn’t looking.