Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Fickle World of Friendship Cakes

I think it was the mid 80’s that my Mum was bequeathed a “friendship cake” from one of her work colleagues. The premise was simple, for the next 10 days the yeasty brew would have bits lovingly added so that it blossomed into a voluminous mixture that was then divided and shared so that the inherent joyful cosmic energy could be passed onto another set of friends.

I can vividly picture the bubbling mass, that after a life of neglect, finally died in the back of the fridge. Shall we just say that my mother is perhaps too practical for recipes that are written as poetry?

It was some time last year, whilst enjoying a mid week cuppa with one of my besties, Bec, that I innocently offered her some cake paraphernalia.  Her face recoiled as she stared muttering something not having time for the likes of that.  Suffice to say it wasn’t a “bloody friendship cake”  It was actually some very fine samples I was kindly giving her, but is it did prove two points.

First; I have long suspected that Bec and I swapped mothers somewhere along the way and secondly not everyone likes to phaff about with recipes whose instructions span days. However jaunty and heartfelt the idea of dividing and sharing a cake batter let’s just say that one persons batter is another person’s bitter.  

So when at age 38 I was bequeathed my own batch of “friendship cake” I embraced the opportunity of following the 10 day ritual and was rewarded with a most splendid cake.

A cake so fine I would love to be able to replicate it without the rigmarole of dividing and sharing. I have done some experimenting and have come up with this no nonsense version.

Mum is popping on a plane next week, Bec is over in November and for both visits I’ll be sure to have a yeasty brew doing its funky thing on the bench. There will be eyeball rolling and general despair at the fact they collectively think I spend far too much time in fairy land. But that I guess is the essence of friendship, knowing each others quirks and celebrating the difference. One thing is certain both their visits will involve a good few hours of tea, cake and gossip, because that’s what we do best; I can’t wait.


Minimal Phaff friendship cake

Up to 2 hours before making the cake make the yeast base

In a large bowl mix;

·         2Tbs of flour

·         1 Tbs sugar

·         1 heaped teaspoon yeast

·         ¼ cup water

Let it bubble away and do its thing – remember you are condensing 10 days in to 2 hours – so be cool, 2 hours isn’t long.

Preheat oven to 180c, line and grease a deep sided 22cm cake pan.

Into the yeasty brew add

·         2 cups self raising flour

·         1 cup sugar

·         2/3 cup olive oil

·         2 eggs

·         2 tsp vanilla essence

·         2 cooking apples cut into chunks

·         ½ cup dried apricots finely sliced

·         ¼ cup chopped nuts

·         2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon

·         1 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix well then place into prepared tin, scatter with

·         ¼ cup crumbly brown sugar

·         dot with tiny blobs of butter

Bake for 45 mins. It should puff up magnificently and create a wonderful appley waft throughout the house. Cover with alfoil and cook for an additional 20 mins to ensure cake is thoroughly cooked.

Best served with and a cuppa and a gossip with your best friend.

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