Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A Year In My Shetland Garden - Misa Hay

Or perhaps more specifically Misa's Ořechová Bábovka (Walnut Bundt Cake) with which I have fallen in love. Fortunately, it's a new found passion that D shares and there's a lot to celebrate with cake in a marriage. 

Once upon a time, my favourite cake would always have been chocolate, but preferences change and now it's whatever has the least icing on it that attracts me (the craze for cupcakes with great big dollops of frosting on top of them did for me). A walnut cake studded with juicy raisins is perfect. This cake turns out to be light, flavoursome, elegant, excellent with coffee, smart enough to serve with dinner, easy to make, and altogether exactly what I want in my repertoire. 

It also nicely sums up how I feel about Misa's book in general. It's full of food that feels contemporary, sounds delicious, and which tells a story. In this case, it's Misa's journey from the Czech republic to making a life and family in Shetland. These are flavours from her childhood, bought back from travels, and homegrown. 

Shetland is a challenging place to grow things (unless it's rhubarb which does exceptionally well there, and is equally well represented in this book) but not impossible. Over the last couple of decades, a more robust version of a polytunnel has sprung up and it's revolutionised what people can grow. That's really useful in a place where the weather can seriously disrupt supply chains. For those of us not dealing with Shetlands climate though, this is a book full of easy to buy or grow vegetables and that's a definite plus too.

There are so many things I like about this book, but overall I think it's mostly about the attitude. It's a book about the possible, and about roots (in every sense). That walnut bundt cake is one of Misa's childhood favorites which brings its own twist to the Shetland love of baking. I would normally share the recipe here, but on this occasion, I'm going to strongly recommend buying the book - find it here or order from any good bookshop. 

On a side note, I couldn't find my sensible bundt tin - I think it's buried under a lot of jam jars, so used a very posh nordic ware one shaped like snow-covered fir trees that I bought in a fit of enthusiasm with amazon vouchers a couple of years ago and had never used. It was a nightmare to butter, and worse to clean, so that's a lesson learned. I also got distracted by a phone call and should have had the cake out of the oven 5 - 10 minutes before I did, but it was still fine - which is another virtue to award it!

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