These days, I am told, it is frowned upon to lick the bowl when cooking cake.
It's yet another of Life's Great Pleasures which so many youngsters will never appreciate
unless their parents / grandparents are prepared to break the Elf and Safety Rules. Having reached my Great Age licking, along the way, countless cake bowls clean, I irresponsibly continue to enjoy the Sweet Aftermath of cake baking. It's what you do, don't
you see? You check the oven temperature, place the cake tins in the centre of the oven, set the timer for 30 minutes ("Whatever you do, do not open the oven before thirty minutes have passed," warns Delia Smith, bossily) and then settle down for a good licking
of (i) the bowl, (ii) the spoon, and (iii) the mixer beaters.
If as a result of my disobedience I die of salmonella poisoning then Mr B will say it is All My Own Fault - and he will be right. On my tombstone,
he will have engraved the telling epitaph: "She licked the bowl." What a way to go!
It is far too hot to be baking, in any case, but when I set myself to do something I do not let anything get in my way. Even
when common sense dictates otherwise. It was a trifle misguided, for example, to plant out my Sunflower Wall in the middle of the hottest spell of the year so far. I have checked on my seedlings' progress several times throughout the day and at least three
of them are wilting badly, despite my stalwart efforts with the hose-pipe. At this rate my latest building project may well end up a few bricks short of a wall. On the plus side (there always has to be one, if you look hard enough) the hot sun is drying off
my dripping wet washing even though I am not able to use my washing machine until the Man From Bosch visits next Tuesday.
Back to my cake for a moment. Well, you can't exactly go back to it as it is still
in the oven on 170 degrees, as per Delia's precise instructions. There are another ten minutes to go before I can dare to open the door and press lightly with one finger on the top of each cake to check if it will "spring back, leaving no impression". In the
Olden Days, when you could still lick the bowl, it was customary to test if a cake was cooked by inserting a knife. If it emerged clean, then the cake could be considered duly cooked. Delia has apparently changed her mind on this rule for reasons which include
the possible presence of sticky raisins which, as I am only making a simple Victoria sponge, seems somewhat unlikely.
Except that I am deviating slightly from the classic sponge, as favoured by Queen Victoria,
because a simple dusting of icing sugar wouldn't be quite special enough for a birthday cake, which is what this is. We must have buttercream icing! We must have chocolate stars for decoration! We must have candies! Queen Victoria would not have been amused.
The two halves of the cake are now out of the oven and are cooling off on a wire rack. I rather wish I could cool off, whether on a wire rack or otherwise. You may be interested to know that I took a Belt And Braces
Approach to testing whether the cakes were cooked. I did indeed press lightly on the top of each to see if this would leave an impression but I stuck the knife in too, just to be sure. Once cooled, I will sandwich the two halves together with jam - but I am
planning to leave the actual decorating until we get to the home of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters (and mother of the Birthday Girl) tomorrow. This will make Cake Transportation much easier as I won't have to ask Mr B to hold it carefully on his lap
throughout our car journey. I would not like to guarantee its safety over the whole hour and a half journey.
Thinking about my cake, I have to concede that it can't hold a (birthday) candle to the
ones the Birthday Girl's mum used to make for her in years past. Still, at Sweet Sixteen, she's a bit old for a fairy-tale castle, or ballet shoes iced in pink, or even a Frozen Adaptation. And, let's face it, a Victoria Sponge is, well, timeless.
What's more, I can assure you all that it has been made with Due Regard to Delia. Plus lots of love.