Auntie Evelyn was a good cook, learning her skills from her mother, my grandmother, Frances Elizabeth Miller. Frances worked as a cook in the grand houses of Northumberland after training at Northern Counties College, quite an achievement in 1911.
I suppose it was her influence that has engendered a love of cooking with all of our family. As my grandmother lay dying in her bedroom, she was instructing my sister in the art of making cakes. To this day her cakes are far superior to anything that I have achieved, although I do have some of my own favourite bakes.
My sister and I spent many happy summer’s with my Auntie Evelyn and on one of these occasions she gave us her batch bake sponge cake recipe. The ingredients are strange but the cakes turn out beautifully and because it makes 4 cakes or two cakes and 12 small cakes it saves time and energy. Whenever there is a need for cakes for a fair this is the recipe that comes out again and again.
Cream the margarine and sugar until light in colour and add the boiling water. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs slowly and beat well. Add milk. Fold in the sieved flour.
Split mixture into 4 x 7” sandwich cakes. If preferred then use for two cakes and the rest as fairy cakes or cup cakes.
Cook for 15 minutes at Gas Mark 6 or 200C
If you would prefer a chocolate cake then this recipe can be adapted by doing the following:
Reduce the flour by 1 oz, then add 2 ozs of cocoa powder, 2 ozs of chopped almonds, 2 tbs of brandy or rum.
Our latest monthly column bringing you traditional Northumbrian dishes that you can make at home for all of the family.