It has been almost two years since I received a gift from my dear friend. A bundt tin. You know – those pretty cake tins? Their characterising features include a built-in swirl and a hole in the middle to speed up the baking process. It creates a self decorated cake with very little effort.
I would joke to my dear friend that I didn’t own one – and probably should – because it reminded me of my mother’s chocolate and vanilla marble swirl bundt that she made for us when we were growing up.
The famous ‘bundt’ is traditionally known in the north of Germany as “Bundkuchen”, a name formed by joining two words – Bund and Kuchen. The shape is inspired by a traditional brioche-like European cake known as Gugelhupf and was very popular among Jewish communities in parts of Germany, Austria and Poland
About two years ago I endured a personal health challenge. During my recovery process, I was cared for by my family, friends and work colleagues. When I was home one day, my dear friend popped over to give me a beautiful tray of home-made lasagne, something sweet and a funny shaped gift. I opened that gift – and there it was – my first bundt tin!
That bundt tin stayed in the cupboard for a while. This rather confident cook was a little scared to use it because I always heard stories about how bundt cakes can stick to the tin quite easily. I learnt that the classic dynamic duo of butter and flour bake into a protective barrier around the cake, almost guaranteeing its release. I gave it a try and it worked quite well.
About a year went by when I was given the news that this dear friend was battling her own health challenge. I wanted to be there for her to provide support and help her on her own journey. She comes from a tight knit Italian family and cooking a meal for her would be a complete waste of time as her fridge was already full. So I had to think of something a little more creative.
During this time, Autumn had arrived. Autumn represents the transition from summer to winter and is my favourite season. It is my best time for self reflection and the chance to reconnect with myself. The changing nature of life with its crisp air, falling leaves and bare branches create a sense of mystery and reminds me of the fleeting nature of things. This provides the opportunity to ‘let go’ and release things that have been a burden. I enjoy looking in my back yard during this time to enjoy the falling leaves and beautiful array of colours.
Autumn is one time we tend to harvest and preserve produce. We retreat indoors to seek comfort, warmth and the feeling of safety. My meyer lemon tree is at its peak during this time and after almost twelve years of trying to grow lemons I have finally earned a solid crop of these beauties.
Looking at these lemons gave me the idea that I was going to make this dear friend a cake. I wanted this cake to be special. And it had to use the bundt tin that she gave me. So I went to task and designed a cake especially for her and called it the “Autumn Bundt”.
This “Autumn Bundt” is inspired by a traditional Tuscan cake and is a decadent combination of olive oil, to keep it moist, and a citrus trio of lemon, orange and mandarin. Topped with pistacchio nuts and served with greek yogurt on the side makes for the perfect afternoon tea with a cuppa on an Autumn afternoon.
My dear friend enjoyed this delicious cake immensely – it provided somewhat of a ‘talking point’ for her and her visitors and I know it gave her a smile because I had used her bundt tin!
What do you do or cook for those who need a helping hand?
Until next time.