There was a perfect description of this in a novel I've just finished:
I have a crushing fear of lateness. I would rather be an hour early than cause someone a minute's wait. Dev would always say, 'We're not late until we're late.' I knew what he meant and it was technically true, but it never worked for me. Knowing I'll be late is always bad enough. The least I can do is get the worrying in early.
(from Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace)
This is EXACTLY how I feel about being on time.
Which is probably why this baby being nearly a week late is so stressful for me. My last baby's labour kicked off at 9am on her due date. Very businesslike and precisely on time, I hadn't anticipated anything less. So what on earth has happened, why has my scrupulous timekeeping deserted me, what am I doing wrong this time around?
So I'm still filling the days with baking, and then writing about it for you here. Oh, and scarfing it down like a pig of course. Knitting aside, there's nothing better to take my mind off things. To that end, here is a recipe for the most sublime cake in my repertoire. It's the (ahem... late!) Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's favourite cake.*
Queen Mother's Cake
6oz plain flour
1tspn baking powder
2oz chopped walnuts
1tspn vanilla essence
1/2 tspn salt
4oz chopped dates
large pinch bicarbonated soda
- cover the dates with one cup of boiling water with a pinch of bicarb and set to one side
- preheat your oven to 180*C and line your cake tin
- mix all the other ingredients together in the usual way (ie use a hand whisk or wooden spoon to cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and sifted dry ingredients)
- add the dates, their juice and the chopped walnuts and mix well (it's sloppy, don't worry)
- bake for 35 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.
IcingUnlike my Granny's carrot cake recipe, this one must have it's icing. It is literally the icing on the cake, and turns a date and walnut sponge into a bird of paradise in full plumage. This icing, on this cake, is the sensory distillation of my childhood.
5 tbspns soft light brown sugar
2 tbspns single cream or full fat milk
2 tbspns butter
- Melt together and boil (constantly stirring) for 5-8 minutes before spreading on the cooled cake and decorating with leftover walnuts.
My midwife was surprised (though not concerned) to find trace amounts of glucose in my samples this morning. I wasn't. I think taking the photos alone was enough to have caused that.
* I have no idea if this really was her favourite cake, or even where the recipe originally came from. I remember copying the list of ingredients from my Granny's book (a badly printed spiral bound charity pamphlet I think) at least 25 years ago. So if you own the copyright to this, perhaps you can forgive my lack of credit. And if you happen to know that Ma'am preferred another cake more, well, I'm past caring. In my house, this is Queen Mum's Cake, end of discussion.