Dad's birthday falls in that awkward, gangling, teenage gap which separates Christmas and New Year. And it's a tad to close to New Year's Eve for most people's liking. So in this brief interlude where everyone wants to rest and escape presents and cooking and yet more food, our little family battles bravely on. With the added problem of a minimal postal service. Cake isn't on most people's mind, but a birthday isn't a birthday without cake. Dad's dislike of sugar, chocolate, carrot or orange (they give him a tickley throat) is only a further obstacle. Baking a cake that he will like and be happy with is a little tricky, to say the least. This dislike of all things sweet also posed a problem when making my family their Christmas hamper (it's what those of us who are obsessed with baking and also happen to be rather strapped for cash do). I had to stray away from the otherwise biscuit, chocolate, sweet filled delights, and move towards chutney and oatcakes, and lucky for him, a large wedge of Neal's Yard Montgomery Cheddar. With only hours to play with, I turned to Rose Carrarini's book Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery for advice, knowing she does all she can to use as little processed sugar as good taste allows in her scrumptious baked goods. When I stumbled upon the words 'this loaf is almost savoury' I crossed my fingers and prayed that we had all the right ingredients. There was not enough time to head back out to the shops. For once, we did (the joys of being at home and not in a little East London cupboard!). Worried about how watery the mixture was, it would be an understatement to say I was a little tense during the time it spent sitting in the oven. But when it was out there was a large sigh of relief. It was perfect. And Dad rather liked it too. He went back for another slice. Success all round, I'd say.
And maman would like to add that it was even more delicious the next day toasted and spread with butter for breakfast. Just in case you need another opportunity to eat cake.