Monday, 30 September 2013

A Tale of Two Apple Cakes

Rafa has recently become happy to be in his pram - two weeks ago when we went out with him in it he just wailed ‘I’M ABANDONED, I’M ABANDONED,I’M ABANDONED!!!’  - not relaxing.
It is lovely to carry him in his sling, but my back appreciates the break - so on Saturday morning with the weather still lovely in Edinburgh it was a pleasure to linger at the Cramond estuary after the husband did the parkrun. However, hanging about in the sunshine by the water to show Rafa the birds, boats and little waves (ok he was asleep, but we enjoyed it) did leave us rather short of time for other Saturday tasks. 

Edinburgh Park Run - Cramond, September 2013
With friends dropping over in the afternoon, the baby to be fed again and me wanting to get out for a run of my own, the task of baking a cake for afternoon tea fell to the husband. Baking cakes is not something either of us does often - but we had a recipe left behind by my mother - and a pantry with ingredients - so it seemed to make sense to bake rather than buy. 
Getting back from my very pleasant run along the sunny canal bank I was impressed to find: One - the smell of a cake baking, and : Two - no baby wailing. 
As I got through the door however there was an overlay of burn to the pleasant baking aroma. Since we have a rule of no babies in the oven, and the husband was playing with the baby I checked on the cake - and it was rather black on top. 
On questioning it seemed that the husband had mixed up centigrade and fahrenheit.
It was a little crispy in places but otherwise quite tasty. It all got eaten in one sitting and one of our guests was even kind enough to ask about the recipe.

On Sunday with the weather still lovely we made up a picnic, put Rafa back in his pram - where he promptly fell asleep and went for a walk along the canal. As featured in the previous post the blackberries are out at the moment - and after lunch our forward momentum was interrupted when I found a good crop. I thought I was going to be berated by the husband for meandering, but instead he joined in the picking.  There were a few traumatic incidences with thorns, wasps and nettles but we managed to pick quite a good haul.
When we dragged ourselves back inside it seemed only logical that I attempt the cake this time - with blackberries as well as apples.
First issue I had was a lack of scales. When I asked the husband how he had dealt with this he just shrugged and said he had guessed - resulting in rather too much sugar but otherwise a cake - which though burnt was a very tasty confection.
I made my own estimations and spent a pleasant hour peeling apples and mixing my ingredients in the kitchen while the husband napped with the baby.
Somehow the results were tasty, not burnt - but rather solid. My cake entirely different from the one produced from the same recipe the day before. We ate some of it for pudding with custard that evening.
After bathing and feeding the baby that evening we complemented ourselves on a perfect cheap Sunday-and we acknowled that we both still needed to work on our baking skills - and perhaps invest in some scales.

If you have scales - or skill at baking, have a go at the recipe below and perhaps you can let me know what the cake is supposed to turn out like.

German Apple Cake -

100grms melted butter
100grms castor sugar
200grms self raising flour
2 eggs
2 apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
70grms raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp demaera sugar
lemon juice

Preheat oven 375 f / 150 c
Grease 18cm spring tin
Melt butter, place in a large bowl.
Stir in sugar, sift flour and stir in. Add one egg at a time. Stir till it forms a soft dough.
Press 2/3 dough into tin.
Cover with apples.
Add remaining dough.
Bake for one hour. Cook 15 mins before transferring to serving plate.   
(the blackberries were a very tasty addition, even if the actual cake I baked was a bit of a brick)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

a poem for Rafa

I am thrilled to announce that our lovely son Raphael has arrived in the world. I have been busy getting to know the little fellow and occasionally snatching some sleep - so have not managed to write so much as a shopping list of late. Luckily as well as the safe arrival of our son we have also been blessed by having my mum come from Australia to meet Rafa and help his parents out. She has  written a poem for Rafa - which I am publishing here with her kind permission.  

A story of blackberries
I came to Edinburgh to meet you,
To be family in real time and space
To breathe you in to my heart and mind
Tiny new person of many countries  

A new child
There are so many questions
What will the world hold for you Rafa?

When you were just 10 days old your mum and I took you for a walk
Along the canal path in the baby carrier
I took a picture
Of Sandy picking early blackberries

Rafa and Rover picking Blackberries on Union Canal - Edinburgh

It reminded me of when your mum was just one week old
Her Dad and I took her
To collect apples and blackberries
from an abandoned orchard
there is a treasured picture of this time.

Rover and her Dad, apple and blackberry picking, Murrungowar - 1981.

Blackberries are a weed in Australia
A curse on some landscapes
Where they are out of control
Despite campaigns to eradicate them
With poison, burning and slashing.
They belong here in Scotland though,
A wild food great for foraging
Your other grandma arrived on her first visit
To meet you with a blackberry pie
Telling the story that once upon a time
Many people went to collect the fruit
But now a friend was the only one.

These events came to mind
When a man at the Book Festival – (Graeme Gibson)
Spoke of the way people were changing nature
Less birds, animals and plants
He told us that in the dictionary now
Apple and blackberry are no longer about fruit
But computer brands and gizmos
That tie people to their work 24 hours a day
Your Dad has one of these
I have a picture of you with him
Walking through the Edinburgh Fringe
On the way to register your birth.

Rafa and his dad on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

I am hopeful that the toughness of blackberries
Will ensure their survival
So that you too will take your billy
and collect the ripest, blackest and juiciest
of these sweet wild foods.
Then I can add that picture to this story.

Love Nanna Helen

September 2013

Rafa and his Nanna Helen in sunny St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.