There wasn’t originally a huge backstory behind this cake, but ultimately, baking it transformed my mindset for the day. Fiona joined the circle this week and had mentioned that she was a fan of the British staple, crumpets with butter and jam. It got me thinking about a jar of English lemon curd I had been saving for a “special” occasion, the perfect moment. The lemon curd itself has a fun backstory.
A few months ago, my husband and I were in England and visited Castle Combe, a tiny, picturesque village that is straight out of a fairytale. Outside one of the houses near the main square was a tiny little concession stand, for lack of a better word. It offered flapjacks, wedges of chocolate cake and lemon drizzle cake and jars of homemade lemon curd, made by somebody named “Mac” and all to be paid for by depositing coins and bills into a small slot in the front door on an honor system. Both famished and wanting to contribute in some way to the local economy as we (respectfully) explored the village on a Sunday morning, I purchased a couple wedges of cake, a flapjack and a few jars of the lemon curd to take home for friends and one for our household.
Fast forward to today and I was, craving a treat. We’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Bake Off so I decided on a simple Victoria sponge cake with a whipped cream (and topped with a layer of the lemon curd) filling. Well, I was a little too generous with the buttering of the pan and while the cake came out delicious enough, it was definitely on the crisp side…but the filling with the lemon curd tang? I could have just eaten that with a spoon. Happy to share that recipe if anybody wants it.
After, to share this culinary adventure with The Modern Bee circle, I attempted to snap some photos of an untouched slice of it, looking all pretty and perfect like I see in the Instagram food accounts I follow. Well, “pretty” and “perfect” weren’t in the cards of my little cake. I got frustrated, my husband laughing at me in the background between bites of his own slice as I angled and clamored for an Ina Garten quality shot. I finally gave up, sat down and dug my fork into my slice, the thick cream oozing out. And then I was like, you know what, The Modern Bee is a place where you don’t have to be perfect, where authenticity and uniqueness are valued over everything else, despite the messiness they can bring. A metaphor for my authentic, unique and messy cake. My cake was what it was, there would be, could be no dressing it up. So out came my phone, a click of the camera and here, my friends, is a slice of the cake, a slice of life on a plate. Life is messy and stressful enough right now, baking a cake and taking a photo of it shouldn’t be.
So on that note, take my lead, put on some tunes (I was in a Sinatra mood for this round of baking), pop open that “special” ingredient you were saving for a special occasion (isn’t now special enough?) and get messy.
p.s. My husband says that he bets Mary Berry would approve my cake, especially since it didn’t have a “soggy bottom,” so there’s that!