Thursday, 15 August 2013

Vintage baking from the pirate capital of England

Greetings from Cornwall. Thought I'd test out the old internet from a remote location to prove to Silk (who accused me of moving somewhere rural when I went to live in Twickenham) that places outside of London actually can get it. So far, so totally excellent. Wifi AND pirates. Cornwall is obsessed with pirates and there are loads of tractors which means Cornwall has gratified two of my major obsessions without even trying. I was Welsh for a year once (it was lovely but totally exhausting - gave me a newfound respect for Tom Jones... singing AND being Welsh at the same time), but I think being Cornish might be worth a punt. And they have clotted cream.

Anyway, I'm holidaying here with my best mate Stu and his daughter and her friend (both 14). Now when I was 14 (admittedly back in the dark ages), I was working at the butchers and my main worry was where my next afro comb was coming from to tame my vicious home perm. I know - when I finally write my memoirs, I'll give Angela's Ashes a run for its money. But it seems that 14 now is not the same as 14 then. 14 now is a serious business, mainly, from what I can see, in the effort needed to look 24, together with the need to walk shoulder to shoulder at all times. One 14 year old I could probably cope with but two together remind me of those twins who develop their own special language. We can hear them shrieking with laughter upstairs but once downstairs, silence, just glances passing between them that mean god knows what.

Bless the niece then, who has taught me wordlessly that a chocolate cake is always welcome. When I mentioned the possibility of baking one, the Tweedles (as Stu has named them) became the most animated we've seen them. I had a gander round the kitchen to see what baking kit, if any, was available. Sparse is word that sprang to mind. A proper old fashioned mixing bowl and a set of Boots scales. I'm guessing Boots haven't sold scales since I was 14 but they seemed to work ok so I kitted myself out with a wooden spoon, a couple of cheapo sandwich tins and was good to go.

Stu took the Idioglossia two off for a damp shuffle round Newquay and I went all retro and started to bake a cake without assistance from electrickery (apart from the oven of course) for the first time in yonks. The last time being with my nan when I was much younger than 14. It takes some bloody elbow grease doesn't it? I was knackered after just beating the eggs and sugar. Respect Nan.

During one of my out of puff rests, it occurred to me that, as I bang on about the point of baking being the effort made, this really is ultimate show of love, doing it all without an electric whisk or my beloved Kitchen Aid. Thirty minutes later and feeling more exhausted than a year of being Welsh made me, it was done and in the oven. How chuffed was I when both sponges turned out lovely. In honour of our Cornish surroundings, I made it a Pirate cake. And, as I was in full 1950's mode, I knocked up a chicken, ham and leek pie too (bought the pastry though - 21st Century cop out) but it made me feel so domesticated, I felt an urge to donkey stone the front step. The urge passed quickly.

The feedback on the lovingly 100% handmade chocolate cake? There were smiles, there were approving ummming noises. No words though. Just glances.

During our week here, I have been really trying to be cool with the teenagers. Any success I may have had (I'm guessing, limited) went out of the window today. Listening to the radio, there was something on the news about Marianne Faithfull cancelling a tour. I exclaimed that it was a lame excuse to cancel a tour but Stu and the girls got all vocal about it. Surprised me as I didn't think the Tweedles would know who she was. Turns out they don't but they thought breaking a bone in her back was reason enough. What I heard was 'breaking a phone in her bag'.

Assisted taxi for Barnes please.


The View From The Table said...

Barnes, the cake looks old school fab. Enjoy Cornwall, have you been talking like a pirate for the whole duration of the trip? I believe the locals really, really love that. Oh and readers and a discreet hearing aid? x

Sarah Barnes said...

It's funny you mention that Table but the locals didn't seem as chuffed as I thought when I got into the pirate swing of things. Probably jealous of my eye patch I reckon. The sister has been nagging me to get a hearing aid for a while, well since I misheard that Dirk Benedict was being sent to an earthquake struck Italian town (Pope Benedict) and that one of the trapped Chilean miners had named their newborn Esther Rantzen (Esperanza). No wonder I find the world such a confusing place... x

Kate Barnes said...

At least consider a syringing sis!!!

Sarah Barnes said...


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