There wasn’t originally a backstory behind this cake. However, 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 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. A magical interaction, fitting for a fairytale village. Famished and wanting to contribute in some way to the local economy as we (respectfully) poked around the village on a quiet 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: I was craving a treat. We’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Bake Off and so I decided on a simple Victoria sponge cake with a whipped cream filling and topped with a layer of Mac’s lemon curd. Well, I was a little too generous with the buttering of the pan. 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.
Before digging in, I attempted to snap some photos for The Modern Bee of an untouched slice of the crispy cake, looking pretty and perfect just like the shots I’d seen on the Instagram food accounts I follow. Well, “pretty” and “perfect” weren’t in the cards for 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. Between bites, I thought to myself, 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. My cake was what it was, a messy, imperfect, delicious, creation. 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!