Orchards and Cupcakes

Bridport gathered yesterday to direct some positive thought towards our dwindling apple orchards. It was a celebration of Apple Day, complete with experts to identify apple varieties, freshly pressed juices, apple peeling contests, face painting and a stall selling wooden instruments of battle which Finley made a beeline for and spent his carefully saved pocket money on a sword and bow & arrow.

We wandered aimlessly amongst the young trees, faces turned to catch the rare autumn sun as we chatted with friends and our children ran with wooden swords slung carelessly from belt loops, half eaten apples in hand.

All sorts of insects were making the most of the late warmth, landing hopefully on anyone wearing bright colours. Clouds of them drifted like motes in the sun, blown about as the air moved restlessly on. When we got home the garden was hung with spiders webs. Usually visible only when heavy with dew, now they resembled lace doilies full of tiny bugs, helplessly waiting as the spider considered where to begin her enormous meal.

Lengthening shadows bought on a longing for cupcakes. Something old fashioned and autumnal, yet creamy and light. I felt a distinct yen for some poppyseed cake, vanilla and cinnamon scented with a light creamy frosting. So intent was I on the final product that I forgot to record my measurements and have only pictures to tempt you with.

If you would like to make your own version, just follow instructions for any of these cakes, Alice Cakes, Cocoabutter Cupcakes or Lemon Meringue Cupcakes (or any others on the sidebar if you don't follow SCD) omit the flavouring in the recipe and add in its place some vanilla extract, a few shakes of cinnamon and a couple of large spoonfuls of poppyseeds. Then frost with a vanilla cream cheese mixture, vanilla meringue, or make it up as I did - with some soft butter, creamy English honey and vanilla extract, beaten until pale and fluffy. Then add a few spoonfuls of strained yogurt (a spoonful at a time) and beat well between additions, to make a light, creamy and not too sweet foil for the intriguing texture and nutty taste of poppy seeds.

After supper, Finley ate his cake from the bottom up, saving the frosting until last. His face anointed with small poppy seed crumbs attached to smears of vanilla cream, he balanced the last bit of cake that held the precious topping as I tried to photograph the whole spectacle unsuccessfully in the failing light.

'Finley, stop eating - I need to photograph this before it's all gone'

'I can't stop, I'm almost at the top - look, there's more icing than cake!'

'Finley! Every time I snap the shutter you move again! Grrrr!'

'Quick!, take it now, I can't wait any longer'

I wanted a shot of Fin picturesquely consuming cake, with his beautiful eyes closed in an attitude of pure cake nirvana. Yet dear reader, we both know that the camera never lies and it really was consumed with gusto - and a distinct lack of photogenic restraint.

Nick gasped as I snapped Fin in flagrante delicto with the cake.

'You're not putting those pictures on the blog, surely?'

And I did intend to, because life isn't always pretty, but it sure does taste good if you get your hands dirty. Yet when I was taking the photos off the camera this morning, I somehow managed to delete the evidence and save Nick the ignominy of exposing our son's reprehensible table manners to the world. Next time I'll back them up, but for now I'll leave it to you to eat your own cupcakes as messily as you like, safe in the knowledge that Finley dropped more crumbs and smeared more frosting than you can ever hope to.