Surprise Cakes

Grandma, (Marion) Phyllis Davies circa 1915

Happy Birthday Grandma! Today you would have been 99, and I would be rooting for you to have that tea-with / letter-from the Queen in one more year. Bessie Pearl died the day before Grandma's birthday in 1968, so it is an important time of year for this ledger. It is hard to write about Bessie Pearl, as I don't know anything about her. I know she lived in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia (which is a gold-mining town). That's about it, really. I wish I knew more about her... She has left this legacy of recipes that I get to explore, and I am so glad to have that. It makes me think about all the family that lead to me being here, and how I don't know anything about them, - we should all tell more stories about our families!

The Surprise Cakes recipe was fun! I really had no idea what they were. I *think* I may have figured them out, but I haven't tried out the new idea yet. I tried to make it as biscuits (cookies), cupcakes and cakes - but it wasn't any of things. All I was left with these hard little lemon-y things. Whoops! The mix was really ... sloppy, so it seemed like it would be more cake than cookie, but it was really dense as a cake, not at all fluffy. I mean, it tasted ok as all those things, but just ok. I am pretty sure I had them all at the wrong temperature (I mostly tried it around 350). I just had no idea! What do you do when you don't know what something even is??

Then, I tried the Scones recipe. Which I could cheat a little with and look up online (typing in Surprise Cakes didn't get me anywhere!). Cheating is great, because I don't know anything about separating eggs, stiffening the whites and folding things into things... And Bessie Pearl's Ledger tells me nothing. I guess people just knew what to do with ingredients!! I had thought that cooking was something that had gotten passed down to perhaps my Mother's generation and that's about it, but I was talking to Mum tonight, and she told me about her first ever "Lady's Tea" - when she invited her mother, and her mother's friends over for tea. She 'cooked' prawn cocktails, which she had never done before. I guess she didn't know that you had to actually cook the prawns (I mean, I can understand, prawn cocktail is cold and all!) and served these giant (she got really big and meaty ones) prawns in all their raw grey-glory to the girls. She said they were all so nice to her about it, but that she was really embarrassed! So, even Mum said she learnt by trial and error, how to cook. And here I am, much older than Mum when she made the Prawn Cocktail, learning more about cooking. It is so much fun. I am learning basics that I never knew about, and I can't wait to be a better cook - to incorporate my love of whipping things up with my imagination, but using some actual knowledge about food and cooking as well. 

So, I learnt two things over the weekend. We went up to my friend, Bryan's - he has this lovely little place in upstate NY which is just so nice to escape to. We cooked up some awesome pancakes and I also made some scones as a project for here. The pancakes were a*ma*zing! I saw the recipe on Tea and Cookies - Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and thought I would give them a go. They were SO delicious, and guess what? I think they are what the French Pancakes recipe from earlier in the blog were meant to turn out more like. The ingredients were similar, but obviously there was much more technique involved in the online recipe, and it all clicked!! I can't wait to try them again and see if they will turn out better if I separate those eggs, stiffen the whites and fold them in. I am positive I will have gotten it!!

And the scones. I failed a little at them, because they didn't rise like they are supposed to - but they tasted *just* right! And so yummy with strawberry jam and cream, - only thing missing was the Earl Grey tea. But, while I was making them, I could tell right away that the Surprise Cakes were meant to be like scones. And here I was melting the butter, instead of cutting it in!! You may laugh at me, but this is how little I know about baking!! So, I also can't wait to try those again and see how they turn out. Yum!

So here is the Scones recipe, and the Surprise Cakes recipe. Try the method of the Scones with the Surprise Cakes and see how you get on. If you beat me to trying it, let me know how they turned out.

Happy Birthday Grandma (and my awesome husband, who my Grandma would have loved to share birthdays a day apart with!). 

Surprise Cakes
1 egg
3 cups of flour 
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup milk
few drops of lemon essence
currants if you like

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter
2/3 cup milk

~ pre-heat oven to 425f 
~ cut in pads of cold butter
~ add milk, mix a little, but not too much
~ bake for 13 - 15 minutes on middle shelf of oven
~ slice in half and serve with strawberry jam and whipped or clotted cream
~ great with a cup of tea

 the flat scones!

really delicious with jam and cream!