The Sound of Summer and an Economical Cinnamon Tea Cake
Bridge ruffies, Bumble bees, Devilled kidneys and mutton broth. Pint, pound and ounces, and an introduction that reads - "Dear Homemaker, since it was first introduced, Menu Magic has received wide acclaim as being the most comprehensive and economical recipe book available to the Australian Housewife."
This spiral bound book with its illustrated pages belonged to my Nanna, my Mum's mum. A recipe book can tell many a story - each splatter, torn page, and batter-encrusted blob leaves a trail of questions and guesses throughout - favourite recipes, and recipes that look as if they have not been given the light of day for the pages on which they reside are in pristine condition. In my Nanna's copy, which now holds space on my bookshelf, it is pages 114 and 95 that tell me Nanna may have put the summer and party drinks to good use - I wonder if it was the lime and strawberry float, or the mulled fruit punch that refreshed their parched throats during the summer months, perhaps it was the frosted coffee cup recipe that provided inspiration, as I do remember tall blue glasses generously filled with a marbled concoction of strong coffee, milk and a scoop of ice cream that floated on top...I can still hear the tinkling of the spoon against the glass as my Nanna and Granny sat in their respective chairs, eyes transfixed on the TV, on what is now the sound of summer for me - The Tennis.
But lets get back to page 95, shall we? To a recipe that has been turned to countless times, one that now has the pen-markings of grams and cups next to the "old-fashioned" ounces. It is the very first cake I remember baking when I was younger. Its beauty is in its simplicity, a humble yet utterly delicious cinnamon tea cake that must, and I repeat must always be cut into finger slices, turned onto its side, and spread with lashings of softened butter - so much so that when bitten into, teeth marks remain. This is how my mum serves it and it is now how I serve it because I want Beau and Viviana to have these same wonderfully delicious food memories I had as a child.
I may not ever prepare mutton broth nor would I dream of serving devilled kidneys, but I can guarantee that page 95 will continue to gather sticky fingerprints and many butter-encrusted blobs into the future and beyond.
Cinnamon Tea Cake
55g unsalted butter, at room temperature
85g caster sugar
170g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
2/3 cup of milk
extra butter for spreading on top
1tbsp caster sugar
Preheat your oven to 170c (fan-forced) and grease a 19cm square cake tin with butter and then line with baking paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy. Add in the egg and beat to combine.
Sift the flour into a medium sized bowl and stir through the salt. Fold half of the flour and half of the milk into the batter, gently stirring until combined. Fold the other half in and then spoon into your prepared cake tin.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. It should spring back lightly when pressed with the tips of your fingers and be light golden in colour.
Remove from the oven, allowing to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before placing onto a cooling rack.
Spread with the extra softened butter which will act as the "glue" for sticking the cinnamon and sugar on top. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and then sprinkle all over the top. Cut into finger slices, generously butter and serve on a large platter with cups of tea. It is a humble little cake that makes the most wonderfully delicious morning or afternoon tea treat and never lasts long.