I went to the Christmas service at Christ church this morning with mum. We were late, throwing keys at our bike locks and taking off our coats as the bells were ringing. I’m not a church goer but the Christmas services at Christ church is a special thing worth going to. I’m not too fussed about the praying. But I like the outfits the priest wears, and hearing the choir sing and that everyone comes together in one place. The sheer volume of people that gather to be together for one moment makes me smile to my core.
I was struck by how religious the sermon was this year. It’s normally not as God heavy, with less focus on sin and Jesus as a saviour. It’s been more – applicable to everyday life, to politics and social issues. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised that the priest was speaking of Jesus and God with such conviction, he is a priest after all. I still didn’t understand it. That another person can believe so wholeheartedly in something that I just can’t believe. But I am aware that I might be the one that’s wrong. The priest might have it all sussed. And I would still choose to hear his sermon even if I knew beforehand the contents of it.
I told you these exact thoughts and you were much less confused by the difference in belief. Said it was a nice way to live, a comforting way to live. To believe in something collectively. To have something to gather for.
After a 13 hour sleep, I came down stairs to find a small green bit of paper on the dining room table. I made out mums writing and read ‘Hi Guys, I’m going for a sauna now (12.20), maybe we can go for a walk together later xx Mum’. We went on the walk later that day, and went to the boxing day sales, and a book shop, got you a hot chocolate, me and mum a coffee.
I’m still dripping from the shower as I write this, but these thoughts have occupied my whole morning, shower included. If not explicitly religious, in the sense of worship, it seems we too took part in our own spiritual ceremony. Our ceremony was more, boxing day sales, bookshops, parks and lack of coffee fuelled tantrums. No incense, church windows, hymns in chorus and Amen, as nice as that sounds. But it was still a ceremony, no less reflective, no less moments peace, no less joyful. We gathered and found each other and our places within our three as the thing to believe in.
This is Paddington Bears’ cake, and it brings a smile behind my eyes. A thick slice of white bread, generously buttered and spread with marmalade in cake form. It’s buttery dense and slightly chewy, the ginger is there because I couldn’t get the flavour combo of marmalade and ginger out my head. Safe to say it works in delicious ways. Based on a madeira cake, this one keeps well, travels well, and wants to be eaten with hands. The icing on top is pure joy, where there is a lemon water icing, there is joy lol.
Test Kitchen Note – It was suggested to me by one I trust that it could go well with a syrup, not to make this a drizzle cake, but just to give it a bit of moisture. I love a bread like cake, and I think the chewy, buttery-ness of this loaf should be celebrated, but, if you like your cakes more on the fluffy, moist side, give it a soak – try 2 table spoons of juice from an orange, a table spoon of boiling water and 40g caster sugar, mixed together. Or even better, replace the orange juice with ginger syrup.
For the Cake
- 200g self raising flour
- large pinch of salt
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 50g crystalised ginger
- Zest of one medium orange
- 175g unsalted butter – softened
- 210g caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs – aprox 165g in shells
- 60g thick cut marmalade
- 1 tbs milk
For the Icing
- 100g Icing sugar – sifted
- 1 heaped tsp marmalade
- 1 tbs + 1 tsp lemon juice
Pre heat the oven to 180 / 160 fan. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
In a small bowl measure out the flour, salt and ground ginger. Finely chop the crysalised ginger and add this to the flour mixture. Set aside. Zest the orange and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and a 1/3 of the sugar at a time, each time beat until just incorporated. Don’t you don’t want too much air in the cake, so don’t beat the mix beyond getting the sugar incorporated. Now beat in one egg at a time, making sure the egg has been incorporated fully before adding the next. The mixture may curdle at this stage, it’s all good.
Beat the orange zest and marmalade through the batter. Add the flour mixture and milk to the bowl, beat to combine. Pour the batter into the tin in bake for 70 – 75 mins or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning it out onto the counter to cool completely.
Mix all the icing ingreaidnets in a small bowl and pour over the cooled cake. The cake will keep for up to 5 days, covered very well or in a air tight container at room temperature.