I’ve been wondering why I love cakes so much. And thinking far back to when I was a little girl, one memory stands out…
We used to travel for two days in my dad’s old VW van to get to my extended family in Knysna (in the Garden Route of South Africa) for our summer holidays. They had a pretty little white stone farmhouse in the middle of the Knysna forest. It was a magical place to a little girl, with no electricity, surrounded by dense forest, the heady smell of pine, wild bramble bushes, and no visible neighbours nearby, reached only by a long dirt track through the woods.
There were rumours that wild Knysna elephants still roamed the forest. These elephants had been hunted to near extinction by that time, but they still left occasional signs of life now and again. I remember the adults talking once about a weasel that had gotten in to the chicken coup and killed a few birds. I was absolutely terrified it might get me in the night. I didn’t realise then that it was only a little creature itself and not as monstrous as it sounded.
Our holidays were a mixture of long hours spent on the wild, remote beaches and exploring the forest. One afternoon, we had just gotten back from the beach and there was a bag hanging from the door of the farmhouse. It was filled with beautiful little fairy cakes. And, from what I can remember, they were absolutely the most delicious cakes I’d ever had. I just wanted another, and another, and another.
My aunt said they were made my Mr Kap, a woodcutter who lived nearby. I never met him, but I imagined him to be a wiry old man with a moustache, brimmed hat and a gnarled walking stick. A magical man who made magical cakes. That memory has stayed with me to this day.