One of my dreams when we moved here was to learn to cook having never really tried to before and my first attempts were to say the least pretty pathetic – I think the one I remember best was my attempt to cook a stir fry Chinese meal using minced meat – it was truly horrendous and quite probably the worst thing I have ever eaten and that includes some weird stuff I had when travelling in South Africa which I won’t go into (email me if you’re interested!).
My other half gave this scruffy old piece of stained and marked paper to me when we moved to France which turned out to be a recipe for Dundee Cake. It had been his grandmother’s. She used to cook the cake for him when he was a little boy and he said that if I could make a cake that tasted like the one Florence, his grandmother made then he would consider I’d made it in my goal to be a good cook.
The recipe I was given uses old fashioned pounds and ounces and is clearly designed to work with an old oven. It tells you to do things like clean and prepare the fruit – sultanas – and the like, which obviously in these modern days we don’t have to do. Over the past few years I’ve tried it when I had time and it’s never quite been right apparently – nice, but not quite right!
Grandma Flo was apparently a wonderful cook, she’d been “in service” in a grand house and worked as a pastry chef and she’d been taught by a lovely lady who was the housekeeper and whose mother had been “in service” at Balmoral Castle. Apparently this recipe was handed down from the housekeeper’s mother, the one who worked at Balmoral, and eventually came to my grandmother-in-law who said that she was told that the cake was prepared for high tea for Queen Victoria’s household staff.
Well, today it appears I got it right – for the first time! I didn’t have a great deal of time so I used my processor to do the hard work, I ran out of whole blanched almonds so I used flaked ones to put on the top and cooked it really slowly – but I’m told it is perfect!
At last… I am becoming a cook!A bientôt Janine