Cake and chocolate are two “C” words that have not, as yet, been proscribed. Christmas and cunt have been. Creating forbidden fruit has never succeeded in producing an aversion in those to whom the fruit are irresistible. Words of all kinds are irresistible to me and I will not be rationed or denied. However, this being the season of good will, albeit one that dare not speak its name, I shall confine myself to the pleasures of cake and chocolate. The fire is crackling, the cat’s asleep on the biggest armchair and I’m planning the cooking that I’ll be doing over the next few days: which situation is not that different to any other winter Friday save that, in truth, I know exactly what I’ll be cooking as the orders have been placed by family members with vivid childhood memories that have to be annually reproduced with same attention to detail as a Vermeer by Han van Meegeren. As cooking gives me a great deal of pleasure I am often deflected from my purpose by recipes and memories of own. Whilst engaged in researching the cookery books on my shelves, in the vain hope of finding something new that will successfully pass as something old, I picked up a book with the unimaginative yet concise title of “French Cooking”. This turned out to be a Marks & Spencer publication from 1978 which credentials are not the most arresting. I was on the hunt for a cake to sustain me through breaks in my cooking and I was not disappointed. Should you find this book by Eileen Reece, buy it. Although photography fashions have changed the thrust of the book supports all my beliefs in uncomplicated home cooking with the very best ingredients which does not mean the most expensive. The chocolate cake I found therein does everything a chocolate cake should do. It seduces by look, taste and texture and is hard to keep for any length of time as forbidden fruit are, as I previously mentioned, the most tempting and are, happily, quite irresistible.
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