People often ask me where my love of cooking started and it was at about 11 or 12, after a decade of watching my mum cook. Honestly, nothing more special than lamb chops and veg or spaghetti bolognese or on the odd occasion, tuna mornay or chow mein. We were simple country folk and we ate like it. Yet I always loved to watch.
Mum had a handful of cookbooks that I loved to read often – a big folder of Microwave recipes, a Women’s Weekly basics, the Chinese cookbook everyone had in the 80s, not heaps but enough for me to daydream about the days when I could eat so fancy. I found a little pink address book from somewhere and began diligently copying down the recipes I wanted to try one day. The Light and Luscious Lemon Delicious and the pikelets that I still make today, steamed pork buns and French souffles that sounded exotic with ingredients we couldn’t get at our outback supermarket.
When my nana died, my mum saved me a recipe book of hers, knowing I would be most grateful for it. She too was a simple cook. She loved nothing more than a bowl of tinned fruit and cream, custard on everything and junket all the time. There were mushrooms on toast, roast mutton, silverside and white sauce for days… although there was that one time she asked me did I want a bit of fish head soup, and I looked at her as if she was crazy and no doubt said something tweenly obnoxious.
I don’t know what the book’s name is, but I do go into more detail about the contents within in the Raspberry Buns recipe – well worth a look if you love tattered vintage recipe books. If nothing else, they provide a nostalgic laugh!
But in it is a recipe for ginger fluff sponge, something my mum said they always had growing up. Sometimes her sister would whip one up as an after-school treat and with 7 kids I doubt it would have lasted long. Hell it won’t last two minutes here.
So in honour of Mother’s Day on the weekend, I present to you the things that have been passed down to me that I hope one day to pass down to my kids.
1/2 lb flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon or spice, 1 gill milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon golden syrup, 2 eggs, 3 oz butter, small cup sugar, level teaspoon carbonate soda in dessertspoon of boiling water. When cake is mixed, add soda. See that water is quite boiling for the soda. Stir it well and add to cake whilst fizzing.
Warm syrup and milk slightly. Plain cake method. Bake slowly in hot oven 20-25 minutes. Do not look for 1/4 hour. If risen, lower heat.
Filling: Whipped Cream, Vanilla Filling, or Confectioner’s Custard and chopped ginger or dates.
Icing Ingredients: Four tablespoons (rounded) icing sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if liked, small teaspoon cocoa, 1 level teaspoon butter, 1 dessertspoon boiling water. Slices of preserved ginger or dates to decorate.
(aka mix everything but the milk, golden syrup, baking soda, and boiling water. Heat the milk and syrup and add to mixed ingredients, then add the combined baking soda and boiling water. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! Ignore the 1/4 hour thing, it will collapse at any time so just chill.)
I actually whipped the egg whites first to get them fluffy then added the rest of the ingredients as stated (including yolks).
Seriously though, how great is it to have a cake on the table ready for afternoon tea? We have a to-do every afternoon after school, the teapot comes out, plates of yum things are provided, and we chat about our day. It gives me no end of satisfaction to go about my daily business with a freshly-laid table and a lovingly-made pretty somethingorother on it.
(It does get a bit wearing the 54th time the four-year-old asks if she can have it yet…)
What recipes do you love that your mum or grandmother did too? What reminds you of them? What do you make for your family now?
Thank you to Kitchen Warehouse for providing the beautiful Mason Cash Hearts mixing bowl.