First rule of baking: remember the camera!

And I forgot it! So I’ll have to ask you to please just picture to goodies I shall describe, and I will do my best to paint pretty little word pictures.

Today was Mother’s Day in the UK, and accordingly I had my mother and mother-in-law round to tea. Well, the fathers came along as well, of course. Apparently my father-in-law was talking about the cats all the way home; he adores them, but my mother-in-law is a little nervous after an unfortunate run in with some sharp claws as a child which has left lasting memories. To her credit, she did let Casper snooze alongside her, provided we promised not to let him climb on her lap.

Anyway, tea time. Ashley got his best old English butler impression out, and made delicate crustless sandwiches with home made tuna and egg mayo mixes and smoked salmon and cream cheese (well, he IS Jewish). I rolled up my sleeves, tried to ignore my burgeoning grim cold and stuck on my “Mrs Goldstein” apron (a hen do gift); this is what I made, all courtesy of recipes from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be a Domestic Goddess:

1. Scones

A sugar-free recipe was a must given that Dad and M-i-L are both diabetic. These are lovely, light, fluffy concoctions, made with cream of tartar. The dough was as perfect as I’ve ever managed it, which made it all the more irritating when I left them in two minutes too long. They were still very nice, but somewhat more golden than I’d planned. No added sugar jam – raspberry and mirabelle plum Dalfour – and clotted cream (not so diabetic friendly, but it is a treat day) were on hand too.

2. Cupcakes

Plain vanilla fairy cakes, these, with icing-sugar-and-water icing dyed yellow, green and blue or just left plain white. I had some sugared flowers left, plus I’d bought some hundreds and thousands, silver balls and chocolate stars so I got busily creative. They came out a little more lurid than I’d intended, but they tasted good. I had swapped butter for Trex as even though we weren’t having meat I’m experimenting with parev cake mix. They were springy, light, nicely golden and satisfying, with just a light slick of super sweet icing.

3. Rosewater Madeleines

These delicate, springy, pale cake-biscuits with their distinctive fan shape were surprisingly easy to make, though there was no chance of butter substitution here. My mother, who grew up in Egypt on Greek food and understands unusual flavours like rose, loved them. As did I. They were not so popular with the rest of the family because of the ‘weird’ floral fragrance and flavour, so I’ll try a substitute flavour like orange blossom water next time, I think. The texture was liked all round. Dusted with a little icing sugar they looked really beautiful, and with very little effort on my part.

I packed up the leftovers and sent them home with mum so that a family friend who’s staying with them can help himself. Just as well – my birthday Wii Fit was definitely none too encouraging about my fitness! Time to get back into the gym habit; I figure I can keep baking as long as I keep giving the results away.

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