Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Celebration Cake

Today, I celebrate two years of blogging. My blog is a toddler, and like all toddlers it likes a bit of cake. Over the years, I have written about love, friendship, AIDS, apartheid, feminism, family, parenting, children, books, writing, living in Germany and cake. My post on Lemon Drizzle Cake is still one of the most popular, at over 1500 hits.

To celebrate today’s anniversary, I’m doing a food meme, ruthlessly stolen from Emily and Susan, but in honour of today, it focuses on cake.

Five Random Things about Me and Cake:

1. The last cake I made was Nigella’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, which I served as a dessert with creme fraiche and pomegranate seeds liberally doused in rosewater. Nigella says this cake is as “damp and sticky as gingerbread and quite as aromatic” and it is. My husband, who does not have a sweet tooth and is not desperately keen on cake, had two slices.

2. The next cake I’m going to make is something for Easter. I’m torn between Nigella’s Easter Nest cake which is chocolately, gooey and luxurious and her Rosemary Loaf cake, which is more restrained. I think I’m heading for the rosemary cake, because there’s going to be enough chocolate around this coming weekend, and the herb will provide a pleasant counterpoint. And I have a special fondness for loaf cakes.

3. Nigella is not my only reference point for cake, but almost. I have made Delia’s Victoria sponge cake and Jamie’s shortbread, but when I’m in the mood to bake a cake I always start with Nigella. Her recipes are fail-safe, delicious and seasonal. One of my raging successes was a chestnut cheesecake for Christmas. It was nutty and heavenly. I could have eaten the whole thing all by myself. Come to think of it, I probably did.

4. For birthdays, I am a traitor to Nigella. I always bake my mother’s stove-top chocolate cake, which contains buttermilk, cocoa and oil, and turns out fudgy and scrumptious. I once posted the recipe here.

5. I am intimidated by icing, and tend to prefer cakes that are icing-free or icing-light. My mother’s chocolate cake is wonderful because you pour the icing on while the cake is still hot, and it melts into the just-cooked cake, making it even fudgier. I admire people who can ice and decorate complicated cakes. Mine tend to be more rustic, but in a delicious kind of way.

One of my blog friends, Dorothy, shares a blog birthday with me. Happy Blog Day, Dorothy. It’s been fun being your twin. Would you like to share my cake?



How I Love A Booky Meme

Aphra tagged me to write about books. My rubber arm duly twisted, here is the Booky Meme:

Number of books you own:

Between my husband, my kids and I, probably a few thousand. What is visible to the public eye is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, because downstairs in the Keller in the Room That May One Day Be Someone’s Office, there are many many more. I need to give some away, but am ridiculously attached to them. They spark memories and tell stories of other times in my life. I really like owning my own fiction and reference library (with special focus on literary, feminist and film theory, travel, history and all things geeky).

Last book you bought:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I haven’t read it yet – it’s joined the teetering piles of TBRs scattered around my bedroom.

Last book someone else bought you (I had to add this one. Sorry to the person who invented the meme):

My husband understands the book addiction and his latest treasure trove for me contained: Darkmans by Nicola Barker (which I’m presently reading and can’t wait to post about, so fabulous it is), Mr Pip (which I’m reading next) and the now much pored-over Rough Guide to Berlin (which I must post off to my friend in South Africa as a reminder of our lovely week together).

Last book read:

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Strong on narrative, but with superficial characterisation, as always.

Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me:

This is hard because I’m not a great re-reader. I tear through books and move on, and I’m realising now that all those classics I like to say I’ve read, I have completely forgotten.

How To Eat by Nigella Lawson. Despite the tragic lack of photos, this is the book that got me interested in cooking. It is peppered with great wisdom and I love her lack of issues around food. I now have a large cookbook shelf in the kitchen, but this is the one that I always return to and always find inspirational.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by What’s ‘er Name. The book I was reading in the bath when Daisy decided to give us a surprise home birth. It’s a book that’s now understandably close to my heart. For the first few months of her life, I called her “Hufflepuff” which seem to suit her style of being.

The Narnia books by CS Lewis. They lifted my heart, comforted me and assured me that life would go on at a time when I believed it was hardly possible.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram. The first book I read to each of my babies. I think I got more out of it than they ever did, and I’m sure it taught me more lessons about parental and unconditional love than any parenting manual. “I love you right up to the moon and back!”

The poetry of William Wordsworth. Hilariously described by AA Gill in last week’s Sunday Times as “lyric brown sauce, an unctuous, fruity slop that’s supposed to be a complement, but actually drowns nature in rhyming sycophancy”, Wordsworth’s poetry was my first experience of words as transcendental. They made my soul tingle and I don’t care if that makes me the literary equivalent of ketchup. I am clearly v. middle-brow.

Consider yourself tagged!