Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Eccles cakes

light snow, blustery, temps minus 5

Michael and I are pretending to be snowed in.

We're sitting by the fire, drinking cafe au lait from the Vive Gamache mugs and eating the best treats ever. Our great friend Susan came out years ago to stay and Michael happened to mention that one treat he misses from his days at Cambridge are Eccles cakes. It's hard to find them in the UK, and nigh-on impossible in Canada.

Next time Susan came she brought....Eccles cakes. Michael almost wept. It tasted of giddy youth. of days when a young man from Montreal found himself punting on the Cam. In the company of boys as bright or brighter than himself. Of his first real girlfriend. of climbing the wall and sneaking back into his rooms at Christ's College. Of meeting young men he'd grow old with, and bury. John and Fred. And Dick, who thrives still in his new home near Oxford.

Eccles cakes. And the kindness of our friend Susan. We never forgot opening that tin and looking at them. Not a cake at all. So much more. Made by her from a recipe she'd searched for.

And now, on special occasions, Susan brings Eccles cakes. She gave us an entire tin for Christmas and we've been parsing them out...we 'forgot' to mention them to family over the holidays.

So now we pretend the snow is mighty and brutal - and sit by the fire eating Michael's youth. And thinking of friendship. And kindness.


A Novel Woman said...

I knew there had to be another reason I liked you, besides your most excellent books. Eccles Cakes are the best! I first tried them in London years and years ago and fell in love with them. Then Marks & Sparks closed here in Montreal, and I couldn't find them here anywhere else. So I decided to look up recipes and make them myself. Let's just say you owe your friend Susan a huge debt of gratitude. I bake my own bread, make pies and homemade soups regularly, but those little pastries are deceptively finicky and time-consuming, and after hours of rolling and baking the little suckers, and as delicious as they were, I vowed never to make them again!

ps I fully support hiding baked goods from friends and family. Sometimes one must.

lil Gluckstern said...

Oh Louise-I am drooling. I googled Eccles Cakes, and they sound delicious and rich, especially with tea. What a good friend Susan is. What a nice time you are having-good for you. It sounds like Michael was fun loving and mischievous, as he is now? A happy new year to him too. A quiet joy to both of you. Life is such a mixture of stuff, isn't it?

Darlene said...

For the adventurous, and courageous, go here for the recipe:

or better yet, come back to BC where Eccles cakes are found in almost every grocery and bakery. IGA's are awesome and Safeway's are right up there, too.

Marcia said...

What a wonderful, warm, cozy feel to this entry. I just read it, followed by the panic of the interview in Quebec! Thank goodness we are not blessed with the ability to see the future.

Anonymous said...

I'm buying some today at Canada Safeway — McBride plaza, New Westminster BC