“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” - C.S. Lewis
Being with food is one of life’s comforts. Preparing food can establish all the more memories, especially for children. When I look back at my years as a child what I remember most is baking with my various family members.
My mother and I share lots of memories of baking with one another. As a toddler, I would help bake cakes and cookies with my mom. I liked to put things in the measuring cups and especially liked to dump things in the bowl. But my all-time favorite part of baking was stirring everything together. I liked to watch all these seemingly random liquids and powders and granular ingredients come together to form a batter or dough. It was like magic as a child. Even now, when I know more of the science to why the ingredients go together, I still am memorized when starting with butter and sugar can become a batter for a delicious chocolate cake.
Cake has always been my favorite dessert, ever since I could say the word. I had a board book that my mother would read with me, it had pictures of various things with the word of what it was underneath it. The very last page had a picture of a piece of cake and my mother would try to skip this page, but I was too smart for that. I would flip open the book back to the page and point to it and say “CAKE!”
“We don’t have any cake,” my mother would say in an authoritative tone. But I was simply determined, I would look my mother in the eye and demand once again, “CAKE.” And so it would be that my mother and I would make a cake together, if for the only reason to appease a spoiled toddler.
Even my grandmother, who I rarely got to bake with before she passed when I was young, has memories attached to baking. I can remember birthday cakes airbrushed with designs of Winnie the Pooh. Linzer Torte cookies, a favorite of my grandmothers, sparks joy even today as I remember the stories of her in Brooklyn going to a local bakery to pick up her favorite cookies. I remember going to my grandmother's house to find a Barbie cake, a Barbie doll stuck in the middle of a cake, decorated with frosting to create a beautiful ornate ballgown.
This tradition of having a Barbie cake with each visit continued with my aunt, who had the same creative mind as her mother, who would create beautiful gowns for the Barbie cakes with dolls that she got from the dollar store. Although my cousins and I have grown too old for Barbie cakes, we still bring desserts to almost every visit we have with each other. One strong memory I have with my aunt and cousins is having summer tea and garden parties.
Yes, we were quite the posh little ladies. We would dress in our best and sip our tea with 4 lumps of sugar and dine on finger sandwiches and best of all Orange Biscuit Braids. What perchance dear reader, is an orange biscuit braid? Well, bakers young and old they are biscuits that to this day make my mouth water. They have a strong orange flavor and are topped with a glaze and slivered almonds. They are the best summer-time treat, but it is not a rule that these lovely biscuits only be enjoyed in the summertime. I propose that they should be enjoyed all year round, with the emphasis that they are too good to ignore the other three seasons of the year.
That is why I plan on baking them again. It has been several years since I last baked the famous orange biscuit braids, and I hope I can recreate them to be just as tasty as I remember. Stay tuned for the next blog where I will talk more about these biscuits and provide the recipe. As always, keep baking.