Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Lovely crumbly yumminess

It's amazing how it's not just experiences, but senses, that define your childhood. The smells and sounds and tastes. I walked into the loo at the University where I work the other day and was hit by a powerful smell of bleach that took me straight back to the ladies loo in the Polytechnic my dad used to teach at, where we occasionally joined him for the day to play in his office while he saw students or did work. There must have been a higher education bulk buy in the early eighties for a particular kind of loo cleaner. Then there's the powder puff. I can't have seen one for twenty years but when I opened one in a shop the other day, unsure of what was in the box, the sweet smell of powder and the satiny feel of the puff made me feel all safe and young and, atishooo.

One of the senses that has stayed with me is the taste of a particular kind of cake they used to sell in the bakery on Orford Road in Walthamstow, which was on our walk home from primary school. It's still a bakery, though one selling sandwiches and coffee, rather than iced fingers, bath buns and split tins. For years I have thought about these cakes. I had tried describing them to people - crumbly, sweet, brushed with icing sugar, like a Viennese biscuit in cake form with solidified jam running through it - but no one could help.

Then I was flicking through a recipe book in Oxfam books the other day and found a picture that looked strikingly familiar. Turns out Viennese was a red herring because they're not Austrian at all. Rather they are called Swiss Tarts. And I made some, and they tasted just right.

(There are loads of recipes for these online - just search for Swiss Tart. They are butter heavy and sugar laden and consequently delicious.)

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