Cake stories – by Beth

16 Jul

Carrot cake is my favourite. Got to have cream cheese icing. But really I have yet to meet a type of cake I don’t like.

Like most little girls/ladies of a certain kind, I love the whole aesthetic of the tea party: dainty plates, beautiful tablecloths, teapots and drinking tea from a cup with a saucer. I fantasize about that stuff.

Thinking back on my favourite books from my childhood – some of which Leo likes, and some he calls “your books” because we both know I like them more than he does – almost all of them feature a tea party/ shared cake/pie/baking moment at the end. So is it a coincidence that I’ve got a tea party fetish, or did my parents make me that way by the books they read me?

Allow me to give you some examples. It is seriously 80% of the childhood books we’ve kept! The other 20% have a meal in there somewhere and then they end with someone (usually a little person) going to bed. If you click on one of the images the slideshow mode says the name of the book.

My Mum and Dad can still recite the last page of Oh Lewis! – I think that was “their” book in the same sense that Leo talks about. The last page sums it up:

“Then Mama and Lewis and Ellie sat down to eat their tea and cake, and Lewis had two slices because he had had a very hard day.”

The Ladies, a Plate series is my baking bible. New Zealanders know how to bake. 99% of the recipes start with “cream butter and sugar”. Ooooh, yeah. Here is a quote from Alexa Johnston’s A Second Helping: More From Ladies a Plate. It’s the adult version of what all of my childhood books are showing:

“Time spent in your kitchen can be a joy rather than a penance; baking for and with others can be highly satisfying and will build lifelong memories for the recipients of your offerings; and that sharing food with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours helps build stronger communities and can contribute a little to the mental health of our society.”

So true in my opinion. Alexa is both a home baker and a historian, and so she brings the two skills together to collect the best recipes from many sources, including old community cookbooks (from Church fetes and the like) and her own friends and family. Each recipe includes a little history of the dish. It’s magic. Makes me happy just looking at those books. Even happier to imagine who I/we will make them for.


7 Responses to “Cake stories – by Beth”

  1. Tabitha July 17, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    Cake-doctrination from such an early age! I support it entirely. I also love how Lewis is clearly eating his feelings. Maybe not such a great message, but I hear you, Lewis, I hear you.

    I really want to get my hands on those Ladies, A Plate books. From what I saw of them at your house, they look truly excellent. And that quote from the author seals the deal! I love how those recipes are not about fancy presentation and perfect frosting, but just good old-fashioned baking and sharing. This post made me happy. Thank you.

  2. Beth July 17, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    So glad it made you happy! It made me happy to write it.

    Lewis is totally eating his feelings: “Mmm, feelings taste good!”

    This indoctrination explains a lot about my life as a fat kid/adult. But I’m determined to take the good from it. It also explains my tablecloth fetish. Gingham ahoy!

    Those ‘Ladies, a Plate’ books should be standard issue for humans. That’s exactly what they’re all about – the cooking and the sharing, and the enjoyment of that. So wonderful.

  3. Karen July 17, 2012 at 11:50 pm #


    I absolutely loved the last quote. And the phrase “cream butter and sugar” brings a warm glow to my heart too.

  4. Suzysiu July 23, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Do you like The Tiger who came to tea?
    Also, have you read Charlotte wood’s book Love & Hunger? I highly recommend both 🙂

    • Beth July 24, 2012 at 6:04 am #

      Thank you Suzysiu! I have just ordered those books. I have read Tiger Who Came to Tea, but I’ve never owned it. Have you tried the Better World Book site? You can get second hand books on there for a reasonable price and they give money to literacy programs. Great site!

      • Suzysiu July 24, 2012 at 11:07 am #

        I need no more encouragement to buy any more books than I already do, though I suppose it would be better if I bought more 2nd hand books 🙂
        My mum owns “The tiger who came to tea” however it’s at her holiday house, so not readily available. She tells me it was one of my favourite books, and I can certainly

      • Suzysiu July 24, 2012 at 11:08 am #

        … I can certainly see why, it’s lovely.

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