Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I had the smallest glimpse today of life as a chef, with several sous chefs carrying out your commands, the orchestration, strategy, diplomacy and multi-tasking weaving together like an elaborate eighteenth century dance. Just an inkling of it as I baked our Easter Simnel Cake with three eager helpers...ok it wasn’t really anything like a Michelin starred kitchen, but for once I didn’t have to do every bit of mixing and beating myself, just had to keep track of where we were in the process, who was doing which bit and whose turn it was to stir, sift and switch on the beater.

My son is doing weighing and measuring at school at the moment, so I put him in charge of the marzipan. He conscientiously weighed the ingredients, stirred in the liquid and stalwartly mixed and kneaded until it all came together, which was great as I inevitably start getting impatient with it, as it seems to take forever. Meanwhile the girls took it it turns to beat the butter to smithereens, whip in the sugar until it was lighter and fluffier than ever before, as they each kept needing just one more turn on the whizzer. We blew the eggs, so that we can paint them for decorating an Easter tree and with a few casualties the girls took care of that too. All that was left for me to do was to inspect each process, control the ardour with which the eggs were beaten and the flour folded in, supervise the rolling out of the marzipan, cut out the paper to line the cake tin and smooth the final layer of cake mixture in the tin....and remember to take it out at the end of the cooking time of course.

Our last blast of summer has cooled down enough today to make baking seem like a viable alternative to swimming. Those autumnal thunderclouds loom on the distant horizon, promising evening son et lumiere shows to be viewed from the comfort of our stoep and the gentle warm spicy aroma of Simnel cake baking pervades the house, an eternally nostalgic and comforting smell redolent of traditional feasts and family festivals.


  1. I can just smell the simnel cake now! Your words paint a wonderful picture in my mind of a very contented happy family all baking together! I do hope you had a wonderful easter.


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