Lately, I have dreamt in custard. Lying in bed last night, I could have sworn I could smell the faint boozy hum of vanilla, the richness of eggs and cream. It’s not surprising. Over the last month, custard and I have become pretty well – if reluctantly – acquainted.
Sam has, for as long as I can remember, claimed lemon posset as his favourite pudding. Whenever I asked him what he wanted after supper or Sunday lunch, that would be his answer. I, on the other hand, could never be pinned down to one: the thought of having to choose between sticky toffee pudding and trifle, creme brûlée or tiramisu is horrifying. Even asking me to choose a winner between lemon sponge and ginger sponge is asking too much. I’m a flighty pudding eater, and I refuse to rank them. But Sam remained steadfast and certain: lemon posset.
A cake has taken over my life. I’m not actually a very cakey person. As much as I love making them, I’m more likely to reach for a biscuit or a pastry or, if I’m brutally honest, a large bag of crisps. And when it comes to cakes, I’m particularly reluctant to go for a chocolate cake. Give me a lemon drizzle, or an almond cake, or something filled with curd or jam. Chocolate is never my choice. Until now. Until this cake.
Oh how I long to be competent. A quick search of my blog throws up the word ‘competent’ no fewer than five times to date. Sam discovered early on that calling me ‘feckless’ (no matter how richly deserved, or warmly expressed) was the surest way to unjustified but unstoppable tears. I am sure that my desire to learn how to cook is at its base, simply a yearning to be competent, or at least appear competent. And for that reason I hold an abiding fondness for any dishes which are deeply practical: delightful in its simplicity, or ease, or using up leftovers that hang around the house: this no-knead bread, these vibrant braised spring onions, and, well, these friands.
I love custard with a passion. Custard in any of its glorious forms. Sometimes I think if I could be guaranteed custard in all its guises, it may well be my desert island food: hand me a pot of the most mass-produced custard and a spoon, and then give us our privacy, please. Ambrosia is ambrosial.
We have been making the most of the heatwave this week, if you can call the sun deigning to appear and not give way to hailstorms for three days straight a ‘heatwave’. Having spent a weekend in Holland where it was so bitterly cold we were forced to buy chips for warmth (or so we justified it), it seemed an absolute coup to come home to brilliant bright sunshine.
At my 21st birthday party, I had a perspex tower of cupcakes, with huge swirls of icing – ivory and duck egg blue, to match my invitations. I was so desperately proud of them. I was 21 and energetic and brave and stupid. Stupid because cupcakes are simply dreadful.
This is quite a silly post about a very silly recipe. This cake is not big and it is not clever. So much so that I very nearly did not write this post. But it turned out to be really quite joyful, and a perfect cake for Easter, and so here it is.
Jane Grigson does not like rhubarb. Jane Grigson does not like rhubarb at all.
Her Fruit Book is a delightful and beautiful thing: each chapter is a paeon to an individual fruit, listed in alphabetical order. All, that is, apart from her chapter on rhubarb. That chapter is something to behold: a barely disguised invective against rhubarb, laced with vitriol. Yes, there are recipes within the chapter, but each speaks of flavours that will ‘improve’ or ‘ameliorate’ rhubarb, and are littered with caveats.And don’t get her started on rhubarb and custard: one two line instruction exists and begins with the fatal line ‘if you must have rhubarb with custard’. The entire chapter drips with disdain and derision.
I’m going to make some wild assertions on love and romance, and then I’m going to tell you to cheat. And I’m going to finish it all off with a chocolate and caramel tart that would make the angels weep. Happy Valentine’s Day.