My friend, Wendy has dubbed herself the “Big Buns Cake Company” and although cup cakes are everywhere these days, her’s are much more munificent than most and totally tantalising at the same time. You can’t help smiling at her big, bold and bright buns for possessing a childlike purity and adult naughtiness in equal measure.
These are ‘Carry-on’ fancies, resplendent with British eccentricity, stuffed full of butter and humour where wholesome ingredients go hand-in-hand with double-whipped entendres. Some have nipple-resembling fat berries enticingly perched on butter-cream peaks; some support sugar sparkles and jelly beans; others have white-iced messages piped on chocolate tops: “Eat me”, “Hold me” or “I’m yours”.
I have to say (and I doubt I am alone) I am in awe of Wendy’s big buns. Presently, I’m in a constant state where I feel sapped by the daily grind of work – kids -work plus a succession of restless nights have left me feeling very flat. I need sleep that I know I won’t get. I crave sugar, a cup of tea and a great big slice of comfort cake which I know that Wendy would deliver. I only need to ask.
Let me tell you what Wendy’s cakes are like. They are a marriage of an Enid Blyton story and a Beano comic strip. A cross between ‘The Famous Five’ rushing home to find a lovely big chocolate cake on the kitchen table to be eagerly consumed with ‘lashings’ of old-fashioned relish and the ‘Three Bears’ weekly pictured stealing grub from Hank’s store. “My cakes resemble those massive comic creations in full flight: thick layers and fat strawberries, dripping icing blobs and oozing cream,” she says and she is so right!!
Last week I answered the call of a journalist who was looking to write an article about people who make something delicious. I mentioned, by way of introduction, that I very occasionally make marmalade, “but you really need totalk to my friend Wendy…”
Don’t ask me how, it’s a long story, but the upshot was; “Could I supply a jam recipe that had been handed down to me by my mum or grandmother?” Can us modern women not be credited with our own recipes in these modern women’s magazines? I don’t think either of my grannies ever made jam since they lived through the war years when sugar was rationed so I can’t imagine it. My mother baked flapjacks and things but she didn’t like fruit so she certainly didn’t make jam. Wendy, however, is the genuine article. She had a mother who was a great one for baking cakes who handed the inspiration on. Wendy remembers “that heavenly smell she generated through her cooking like a generous expression of her love.” Wendy continues this tradition that people need to eat proper homemade cake made with proper ingredients. “It’s the food which makes people smile,” she says. Her generous desire to delight people with cake stems from, by her own admission, a childlike desire for a perfect life and, of course, to feeling like her mum while she bakes.
Her cakes, ‘buns’ and biscuits are a twist on the classic tea-time fare. She makes, for example, a Madeira type ‘Saffron with fresh orange and almond’, ‘Lemon and Poppy Seed’, ‘Carrot with orange and muscovado syrup ‘Blackberry and almond meringue’ and a deeply tempting: ‘Dark Diva Chocolate’ However my favourite Wendy-big-buns-cake has a baby pink, sweet, cream- cheese topping and a light, moist sponge: ‘Beetroot with toasted hazelnut’. It knocks the well established carrot classic right off the cake pedestal in my opinion and sums up Wendy’s original and big-hearted style. Beetroot cake or another “bonkers” sounding, ‘Courgette with a fresh lemon or lime curd’ barely raises an eyebrow among the people who know how good Wendy’s big bonkers cakes are.
Wendy used to be a homeopath but has now tapped into, whether by her own cleverness or merely serendipitously, our nostalgic yearning for gentler, less complicated memories of a previous age. We all have fond childhood memories charmed by our mother’s baking, and if we don’t, we feel we ought to have had them and then, in turn, to hand that tradition on. By her own admission, her cakes – where she sells them – have become extremely popular. “I once walked into the tea-shop I supply bearing a fresh order and had it announced, ‘hurrah, the cake lady’s here!’ followed by a huge collective cheer. What’s not to love about home baking? To be able to bring joy to people with something this simple feels good and it is so nice to be appreciated for what I do. I probably also have an inherent need to make people feel better. I call it ‘wellbeing through cake’ and it is a lot less complicated than homeopathy with a more instant result!”
Big Buns Cake Company, Fowey.
Tel. 01726 833696 email: email@example.com