It is an overcast drizzly Monday morning here, but really, it is quite a scrumptious day. It is not wet enough to be a real nuisance, but just enough to make a hot cup of tea and a scone at my tea break a necessity, and enough to get out my polka dotted umbrella, and splish splash though the puddles to work.
When it snows, I find that there are two kinds of people- those who stride through it barely noticing it, tiptoe through it timidly, or shrug it off impatiently, and then there are those who are busy gazing about in wonder, making the first footsteps in the fresh snow, and planning their first snow man! So it is with rain…
On my way in to work, I saw business men with sensible golfing umbrellas to keep them dry, and also a multitude of gorgeous brollys- a navy blue one with a profusion of roses scattered across it, a bright pink-and-blue striped one, and a lilac one with a gorgeous ruffle all around the edge. There were also people tugging hoods up a little further, or doing those little scurrying-not-quite-running steps to get in out of the rain before they got any wetter. There were some people huddled in the bus shelter, reminding me for all the world of the way ducks huddle together when it rains. I love that it takes a little bit of rain to make the garden flourish and bloom, to make us all chatter together about it when we get to work, and bring out little facets of our personalities.
The other thing I love about rainy days is how they are perfect for puttering and cozying. I love the bliss of summer too, but for me there is nothing as comforting as being tucked up in bed with a good book and a cup of tea, listening to the rain pattering away on the window panes. Tonight, my lovely friend Lisa is going to brave the rain to come and visit me, so when I get home from the library, I am going to do a spot of baking so I have something nice to welcome her with. And also, baking something is a perfect rainy day activity- the warmth of the kitchen, the delicious baking smells, and that wonderful Domestic Goddess feeling, even if the recipe is as simple as this…
…First tie on your apron, and make it a pretty one. It always makes such a difference, I think. Then turn on your oven to 175oC if you have a fan oven, a bit higher if you don’t, and I am afraid it has been such a long time since I had a gas oven that I have quite forgotten the equivalent!
If you have a 20cm flan tin with a removable bottom, lightly oil it, or if you don’t have one (like me) line and oil a 20cm Victoria sponge tin. Take a packet of ready-rolled short crust pastry if your pastry making skills are anything like mine, or if you are one of those lucky people blessed with cool hands and pastry that does not resemble cardboard, whip up a batch of short crust pastry, and use it to line the cake tin (or flan tin).
Scatter a tablespoon or so of ground almonds over the base, and then spoon in half to two thirds of a jar of cherry jam, depending on how generous you are, and of course, how much is left in your jar. I love the Tesco Fair Trade Morello Cherry Jam, as you get weeny cherry halves in abundance.
Next, my fabulous multiquick food processor comes in to play- toss in 5oz each of ground almonds, caster sugar and soft butter, and blitz. Then crack in three eggs, and blitz again. Pour this thick batter over the jam, scraping out most of the mixture from the blender bowl, but leaving enough left for a satisfying taste for yourself!
Pop the tin in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Last time mine browned a bit more than I would have liked, so it might be worth laying a loose piece of greaseproof paper over the top by way of protection. Not that it matters too much, as once it has cooked and cooled, make up some glace icing using icing sugar and water, and pour over the sponge. As a finishing touch you could sit a glace cherry in the centre, but they are not my favourite thing.
The lovely thing about this Bakewell Tart recipe is that apart from the pastry, it uses store cupboard ingredients, and is so quick to make. Oh, and it lasts well too, although once the first slice has been cut to go with a steaming cup of tea, there always seems to be an excuse for just one more slice…to tidy it up, you understand?!
Wherever you are, if you enjoy the rain or not, surely it is time for a nice cup of tea and a little slice of cake?