Is there anything nicer?
It’s so simple – flour, sugar, eggs, butter – beaten together with air. A miracle, really. Prepared in a quiet kitchen, on a Saturday afternoon, with the radio* on and the cats asleep in the sunshine by the windows, a cake is like therapy.
Ideally your butter will be at room temperature, but I make no other hectoring demand. Know your recipe maybe, and the quirks of your baking tins, and don’t overbeat your eggs** but that’s it. Turn your attention only to leaving enough mixture in the bowl for a decent lick.
I can’t explain the science of a cake. As if I would know how it bakes! It just does. I don’t want to know, not at all. I’m happy setting the timer and making a pot of tea while I wait.
You could get on with the icing at this point (more licking opportunity here), or you could do it much later, in your pyjamas (a tip I learnt from Nigella, though her nightie is more glamorous than mine). As you please, just pile it high and definitely let it drip. In my world, cakes are messy and improbable and so so pretty: think Brambly Hedge.
When I make a new cake, I try to remember to write out the recipe in my own notebook of bestest recipes, with the date I first made it, for whom, and why.
It’s nice to flick through and see my life measured out in cake.
*That radio I still haven’t replaced.
** This is what my Grandma used to say to me when we baked together in her tiny kitchen when I was a kid. I once asked her why. She said, I don’t know, I just know you shouldn’t! That’s still good enough for me.