Friday, October 30, 2009

Jam Cake

Back in the days when Ben and Sam were Choral Scholars, we had the exciting opportunity to house four choristers from the Sheffield Cathedral Choir when they came visit to Philadelphia in late October 2001.

Naturally, this trip had been planned for a long time, and naturally there was much discussion about cancelling it: should all these British students be flying across the Atlantic so recently after 9-11? The consensus was to shine a light in the darkness and let the show go on. So on a cold and frosty full-moon-lit night, eight years ago just about now, we welcomed our guests from Sheffield, England -- City On The Move (if you've seen The Full Monty).

As it happened, one of the boys was turning 14 during his brief stay at with us. So we set about to plan a little party. When I asked what kind of cake he would like, he answered without any hesitation: "A jam cake!" That delightful request just confirmed for me one of Anglophile Bill Bryson's clever remarks in Notes From A Small Island about Brits loving jam cakes (something you don't hear / see much of in the States):

"And the British are so easy to please. It is the most extraordinary thing. They actually like their pleasures small. That is why so many of their treats -- tea cakes, scones, crumpets, rock cakes, rich tea biscuits, fruit Shrewburys -- are so cautiously flavorful. They are the only people in the world who think of jam and currants as thrilling constituents of a pudding or cake" (79).

I wasn't exactly sure how to assemble a jam cake, but as you can see, it's not difficult: two layers of white cake (8 inch round or square), raspberry jam in between, white frosting and sprinkles on top, candles, flame, song.


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