Seasoned with love: memories of mum’s baking

Apr 02, 2023
Source: Getty

I have a little part-time job where I make cookies which are sold by a young man who has his own business. As I “cream” the butter and sugar (after softening the butter in the microwave) I start the process in the big electric mixer. And then as I gaze into the creaming process, where the butter combines with the sugar, I remember my mum in our kitchen when I was a child.

She used to bake the best cakes, slices and biscuits. No microwaves in those days, the cold butter was put in a bowl in the sink filled with hot water and then it softened. When it was mixed with the sugar, I would try and sneak my finger in to get a taste of that creamy sweetness when mum had her back turned. 

Oh those piles of sifted flour, the enamel canisters filled with sugar, flour and other mysterious things. Mum’s old hand-printed recipe book (which I still have), or the Edmonds cookbook which was the New Zealand bible of cooking would be her guide. Dressed in her floral pinny, (apron) and with flour on her nose, she would get cracking.

No electric mixer for years, she would use elbow grease and whip, beat and scrape. Eggs, vanilla essence, cocoa powder, jam, milk, lemons and more.

Somehow the magic would happen, the oven would send out gorgeous aromas and the kitchen counters would fill up with trays of cooling goodies waiting to be either iced or sprinkled with icing sugar. 

Almond biscuits with an almond on top, Anzac biscuits chewy and bendy and afghans with a walnut perched on top of the chocolate icing. And the slices. Oh yes. Lousie cake which had a shortcake base topped with raspberry jam and coconut meringue. Ginger crunch with a thick gingery icing which made your tastebuds sing. Fly cemetery which was a fruit mince concoction. Marshmallow slice with a shortcake base and pink fluffy marshmallow topped with coconut. And chocolate slice, a concoction made crunchy with Weetabix.

And then her little cakes. A delicious little cake called a miracle – a name she made up. The chocolate cake mixture was poured into patty pans halfway, a teaspoon of raspberry jam and then covered with more chocolate cake mixture.

These sweet little domes were then iced with chocolate icing and they certainly were miracles because they were heavenly. And queen cakes filled with sultanas. And a type of cheesecake with a pastry bottom, cake filling and more pastry. My mouth waters at the memory.

All of these were packed away in tins in case we had “visitors” which didn’t happen much. We got some in our lunches if we were lucky, and most of us kids worked out ways to sneak a few for a snack, even though mum counted them. 

Mum was very proud of her baking prowess. Dad loved her cooking and so did we. No shop bought ‘muck’ in our house if it could be helped. When I smell a cake baking I think of my mum. What memories do you have of the baked goods from your childhood kitchen? 


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