It’s been an unusual week. A busy week. A week mostly of faltering but also of jubilation. A hot, damp, sticky week. And the last thing I thought I’d be doing would be celebrating with a damp, sticky cake. But here I am, with malt loaf in my sticky paw, celebrating.
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.
For the last week I have had acute Christmas anxiety. So I made brownies. Christmas brownies. The best brownies, possibly, that you will ever taste.
When I say ‘Christmas anxiety’, I don’t mean indecision over which cheeses to buy, or what to wear for Christmas Day, or even whether I’ve bought particularly rubbish presents (although, also all of those).
For me, the purpose of learning to bake and cook was to give me something to do in the wake of my mother’s literal wake. Someone told me that in the first 12 months of a bereavement, anything goes: literally any response is legitimate. My response was then, I suppose, underwhelming to those around me. I just sort of, continued. I went back to work pretty much straight away (in fact I traveled back down form Newcastle to London for a prior work commitment in between the death and the funeral), I didn’t turn to drink, I didn’t have a breakdown, I didn’t beat my fists on my chest in despair. I know my father worried about me, and I imagine so did my close friends. I was asked (with the absolute best of intentions) whether I was ‘taking it too well’. I wasn’t.