Saturday 16 March 2024

Happiness is …. a piece of cake


Every year the International Day of Happiness is held on 20 March It’s a global event organised by the United Nations. The theme this year is ‘Happier together’ and in these difficult times, we are reminded that being happy is a human right. This year’s theme is very much about the connection we have with others and how we should focus on what we can offer to bring happiness. These could be acts of service, volunteer work or just simply a kind gesture.

Although this day is a more recent tradition – it began in 2013 – food has long had a close association to happiness. Every time, I’ve baked a cake for a talk or a family event, I’ve been rewarded with many smiles and cheery words of thanks. So here are some of my favourite ones :

The first talk about my Grandma's life and her homemade delights was for Grandma’s old friends at Furlong Road Methodist Church, Bolton on Dearne. They remembered her sumptuous cakes such as Marmalade Spice Cake and Apple pies – so the pressure was on to bake the tastiest treats!  

I’ve been delighted to do many talks about the History of Afternoon Tea    to support fundraising for numerous charities. These are usually linked to a fabulous afternoon tea with 3 tier cake stands groaning with wonderful delicacies.

I’ve judged competitions including at a Waterstones book shop where I was signing Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking books. The staff were battling for the crown of Baking King/Queen.  The Butterfly Buns won by a short head from the Orange Cake  but the Shortbreads and Gingerbread  were very close behind.

Baking a cake for my team at the London Olympics 2012 was a great privilege. I'll be hoping to do a cake for the Paris Olympics too!

 I remember another group who came to hear about Grandma and her baking. They loved the Lemon and ginger loaf  – not a crumb left! And baking fan, Barrie sent me a recipe for Yorkshire Brack from his Bero Book which became a popular choice.

I was very privileged to be invited to the first Library Cookery Book Club in the country at Wakefield Library. The group had been studying Grandma’s story and were delighted to sample Grandma’s baking on the day. The Museum Service also brought along cookery utensils similar to the ones which Grandma would have used in service.

I’ve often gone back to do other talks at many of the places on other heritage baking topics and it never ceases to amaze me how talking about ‘cake’ brings people together. So, check out Grandma Abson’s and other    recipes I’ve collected over the years and bake a cake for the International Day of Happiness. It’s a piece of cake….!