This week has been the kind that you wish you could rewind and start again. What should have been a lovely family celebration turned into something quite different with the news of the tragic sudden loss of a dear cousin. When I heard, I went into the garden, looking for something that would give the world meaning again. I looked at the late summer flowers, the autumn fruits, the bees and the spiders. Nothing made sense and then a flock of wild geese flew overhead. Migrating birds have an effect that I can’t describe. A sense of purpose perhaps or maybe a reminder that we are all one world.
But it was family that mattered. We scaled down our celebration and met together anyway. We’re a family of artists and musicians, writers and talkers, sporty people and readers, teachers and students, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins, extroverts and quiet people, cat lovers and dog lovers, bakers and gardeners, and people who don’t really get pets or gardens at all. We’re all a mixture. Some of us have more of some things and less of others but we try to celebrate the best in each of us. We’re very international and very local. We celebrate both equally. We have no time for xenophobic bigotry … but this is getting more personal and more political than usual for this blog.
I was going to make a special birthday cake. I wondered if it was the right thing to do. I made it anyway. I used my mother’s apples and decorated it more simply than I had planned. But we had birthday candles and we shared it together and it felt right.
Happy birthday Mum and in celebration of all our wider family
Apple gingerbread *
(makes one loaf sized cake. Double quantities for a square cake)
- 75g butter
- 75g sugar
- 75g golden syrup
- 1 tblsp black treacle
- 175g self raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1tsp ground ginger (or grated fresh ginger)
- apple puree made from one large cooking apple
- Glug of green ginger wine
- 1 egg
- Grease and line a loaf tin (or large cake tin if using double quantities)
- Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and treacle in a pan
- Sieve the flour and spices into a large bowl
- Beat in the syrup mixture, the apple puree, ginger wine and the beaten egg
- Pour into the cake tin and bake for about 50 mins at 180C /Gas Mark 4
*Recipe based on ‘The Apple Book’ by Jane Simpson and Gill MacLennan