Bake with Love
I love the principle of slow living and slow cooking, of comforting food made with love and the lineage of great recipes passed down the generations. My mum was wonderful cook, collecting recipes and stories from all cultures and all walks of life as she moved through her world.
Delicious food made with love and care was part of her language of love. She’s in a high care retirement village now, has little sight or hearing but her eyes light up when we cook for her there every Sunday in a little kitchen off the main common area, often from her own recipes.
Mums recipe book
I’ve borrowed her recipe book, the one she started when she was first married. It’s full of the careful handwriting of a new bride in the 50’s and then over-written with her distinctive, confident, larger-than-life script she adopted as her life progressed. There are notes everywhere of the people who shared the recipes, of additional things she found when making it and of newspaper clippings of recipes she wanted to keep. And there’s a box of yellowed recipe cards too. I’ve now sorted them into a little pine box so they’re easier to use and divided them into categories with tabs. It feels like I’m a curator in a museum ensuring the displays are well kept and maintained for future generations.
On Sunday afternoons when I’m thinking about what to cook for her I’ll often flick through the cards and remember these cakes and her making them … the kitchen dusted with flour from her flurry from one side of the kitchen to other or the large iron cauldron she picked up from a country second hand store with simmering jam or Indian lemon pickles in it. And she could famously prepare a batch of scones by the time the kettle boiled. I’m still trying to perfect this.
These recipes have so much white sugar!
Of course our diets have changed a bit since the 1950’s and one thing that strikes you is how much refined white sugar there is in these recipes. So I’ve begun to tweak the recipes and transition them to healthy versions of the ingredient. It’s not a full abandonment of the original ingredients so there’s not a big change in the chemistry or experience of the final cake or slice or dessert. It’s just a transition recipe so we gradually get used to a warmer kind of sweetness not so sharp and we replace the grains with one that’s a little better for our digestion. Then we can begin to reduce it down more and more over time and even begin to replace the butter with coconut oil. Although this does change the composition and requires a bit of experimentation.
Moving from refined white sugar and wheat flour to coconut sugar and spelt flour.
Canadian Walnut Slice
This is the name mum gave this slice because it was given to her by a friend when she was in Canada. It’s chewy and delicious and it was my favourite growing up.
Step 1 The Base
Put all ingredients into a kitchen wizz and mix till it begins to come together as a ball. Press the mixture into the bottom of a baking tin and then partly bake it in a moderate (375 degrees)
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tbs coconut sugar
Step 2 The Filling
Mix together in a bowl and then spread on the partly baked base.
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 cup organic walnuts
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp bkg powder
- 2 tsp spelt flour
- 2 tsp real vanilla essence
Cook in a moderate oven.