There are numerous boxes stacked high on top of one another in my mum and dad's garage. A treasure trove of forgotten objects and childhood memories. Dust clings to my hands as I rifle through soft teddies, school books, little trinkets. My old Driz-a-bone jacket, which still holds aromas of wet days and horse hair. A floppy disc labelled "Financial studies" brings back memories I would rather forget. I could get lost for hours - my head buried deep.
It was my wooden flower press that I was on the hunt for. Mum had said that she was sure she had spotted in the garage. Years had passed since I had even thought about it and the simple joys it used to bring. To lay pretty coloured flowers in between cardboard squares, tightening up the screws and waiting for the petals to flatten over time. to be preserved. Offers a moment of slowness, of quietness and the art of patience.
It was a crisp sparkling Winters day, we took an empty honey container with us to collect treasures. Brightly coloured flowers mingled with leaves, red berries and handfuls of grass which Beau insisted on adding. It would be a shame to just let them wilt and fade away. So I pulled one of my thickest cookbooks from the pile on the floor and carefully laid out the purple, orange, yellow and white petals onto one of the pages, a piece of baking paper in between. I snapped it shut and placed it back into the middle of the pile and waited.
I felt like a little girl again and have since been opening up the book to check on them every few days. I haven't found my flower press as yet, that's going to require a full day of exploring as I know that once I start opening those boxes of forgotten objects I will indeed be sucked into a vortex of a memory rabbit hole, surrounded by things that tell the story of my childhood and teenage years. I may never find that flower press but I ill always have cookbooks, and when its time for those cookbooks to be handed down or passed on, I smile at the thought of a preserved, dried flower slipping from its pages - a memory from a crisp, sparkling winters day.
Lime, nasturtium and poppyseed syrup cake
makes a 20cm cake
250g unsalted butter, at room tempertaure
zest of 3 limes
220g caster sugar
4 free range eggs
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
200g fine semolina
150g almond meal
150g plain flour
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp poppyseeds
pinch of salt
Nasturtium leaves, flowers, violas, marigolds, or other edible flowers of your choice
Mascarpone for serving, I like to stir through about 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean extract through before dolloping on the side of the cake
For the syrup
220g caster sugar
80ml lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake tin. Then arrange your chosen edible flowers on the base to create a pretty pattern.
Beat the butter, lime zest and sugar until thick and creamy, then add in the eggs one at a time until they are all combined. Sift baking powder and flour into a medium bowl and add semolina, almond meal, ginger, and poppyseeds then whisk together quickly just so its all combined.
Add the flour mix into the creamed mixture along with the yoghurt and a pinch of salt and stir until it comes together. Spoon into the cake tin, being careful not to disrupt your flower design too much and bake for about 55-60 minutes. If at this time its not completely cooked just cover with some foil and continue to bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Meanwhile you can start with your syrup. Place everything into a saucepan and over a medium heat stir until the sugar has dissolved then bring to a boil, reduce down to a simmer and simmer away gently for at least 5 minutes.
Once the cake is baked, carefully pour half of the hot syrup over the cake waiting for it to soak into the cake before adding a little more. Allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack so that the pressed flower side is now facing up. Pour the rest of the syrup over the top and using a pastry brush carefully brush the syrup over the top and around the sides.
Serve with a dollop of vanilla bean speckled mascarpone for something a little extra special.