Nothing beats a freshly made cake to add a bit of home-cooked sweetness to your day.
There is something about baking a cake that I find extremely therapeutic and satisfying. Perhaps it's the fact a finished cake is so much greater than the sum of its parts - butter, eggs, sugar, flour for these ones. I know there's a huge trend towards eliminating all those things from our diets but, with a bit of balance and plenty of vegetables, I think it's important to have cake in your life.
There's a sense of accomplishment in cake baking, too. It's something delicious that must be shared, and what better gift for someone than something you've spent a couple of hours creating from scratch? There's a sense of occasion too - whether it's a birthday or a farewell, cake is always appropriate.
Icing isn't always necessary - sometimes a sprinkle of icing sugar will do. I'm a huge fan of cream cheese icing and love playing around with different flavour combinations. My friend tells a story of baking a cake with her flatmate for their other flatmate's birthday. They made the cake and the icing and wanted to try it so badly. Instead of waiting for the birthday girl to come home, they cut the cake into a heart shape and iced that - leaving them all the off-cuts to eat in the meantime.
A couple of my local cake heroes have turned their passion and talent for baking into thriving businesses. In Auckland, Jordan Rondel's cake business The Caker serves beautifully decorated cakes, usually with fresh, edible flowers and dustings of all sorts of delicious things. Her aesthetic is beautiful, and has inspired the way I decorate cakes. Her instagram account (@thecaker) is well worth a look.
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Modern, beautiful cake is on the menu in Christchurch, too. Cakes by Anna began at the Christchurch Farmers' Market, and has now transformed to a thriving business, servicing cafes and making wedding cakes. Anna's instagram @cakesbyanna is also a great source of cake-spiration.
My grandma always made a great cake. This banana cake recipe was adapted from an old Australian Women's Weekly recipe I found at her house a few years ago. It was a cut out from 1984, and we made it together using the rotting bananas on her windowsill. It was great.
So to get you through to the end of winter, I highly recommend clearing out your kitchen, putting on some loud music and baking something delicious for someone you love. Cake is the answer. And sneaking an off-cut or two will help with the dishes, too.