or rather the making of a cake.
A friend is here from over the southern pond and the gang is meeting here on Tuesday so that she can see them and catch up on the latest knitting talk. There could be ten or more people here.
We rarely entertain. The Senior Cat prefers a quiet life these days. Having "the harem" descend for afternoon tea was discussed with him. Yes, he thought he could manage the invasion - with pleasure. What, he inquired, will I be feeding them on?
I considered this. They are not "scones and jam and cream" sort of people. I will make my particular version of cornbread - because the twins are coming too. The twins are four year old girls - not identical. They like cornbread and I have promised to make some for them.
But cake? I rarely make cake. We almost never eat it now. The Senior Cat does not snack between meals. His appetite is smaller now. He is less physically active.
His taste in cake has always run to the lighter sort of cake - sponge or Swiss Roll or maybe a lamington? He likes Armenian nutmeg cake too. I'll think about it.
I am reminded though of morning and afternoon "smoko" - the break the shearers took and probably still take on the stations when shearing sheep. When we lived in the bush we went to observe the shearers at work. A shearing shed is a surprisingly noisy, dirty, smelly place and the men work incredibly hard. The old clippers have long since been replaced by modern equipment but it is still very hard work.
They would stop work for a short time in mid-morning and consume cake and tea. The cake would have been baked that morning by the cook or the wife of the station owner -who would sometimes also be the cook. It would always be the same sort of cake - plain cake into which sultanas (golden raisins to North Americans) had been thrown. It would be cooked in huge slabs or even in old 44gallon drums which had been scrubbed and lined to prevent contamination from the fuel they had once contained. As "fuel" for humans I imagination it was excellent but the sight of so much cake in one place rather put me off cake.
My mother would, perhaps twice a year, make "small cakes" - what we would now call "cupcakes". Her mother made the same sort of cakes or heavy plain cakes with plums or apples imbedded in the top. My paternal grandmother also made small cakes, jubilee cake (sliced and spread with butter), Victoria sponges and rock cakes for everyday consumption.
And now I look at a book which was given to me as a Christmas present. It is a book about cakes around the world. There is an amazing variety of cake in it but I know that I am unlikely to make them.
Someone else is bringing a cake. I will make a cake too but I still have no idea what sort I might make.
What sort of cake would you make for a modern afternoon tea?