Type: Art & Fic
Beta(s): renaid and of_anoesis
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: One of them has an unexpected talent and makes a gift for the other. What is it? A knitted scarf? A cake? Scented soap? Jewellery? Calligraphy? Woodcarving? Go wild, and if you are craft-inclined, make the object in question (SS/HG or SS & HG).
Note: Dear kerravonsen, I hope this comes close to what you had in mind with your prompt. Since I am neither a writer nor a native speaker, I must apologize that the backstory written about your gift is rather short. However, I love baking, so I can assure you that the recipe is tried and reliable. My most grateful thanks to my wonderful beta's who spontaneously offered their help, using their magnificent skills: renaid who edited the story and of_anoesis who edited my HTML.
Summary: Baking is storytelling in a different way.
For Severus, cooking is like brewing. It's about precise measurements and consistent results, and his joy is in tweaking the recipes to bring consistency even to the next level.
For Hermione, baking is ensnaring the senses. It's about treating herself and Severus, plus all her other loved ones, with comfort and sweetness. She translates her care and love in experiments with chocolate or spices, homemade lemon syrup dripping into a freshly baked, steaming hot cake, or the contrast in taste and texture between dollops of snowy cream and the crispiness of an apple pie.
At other times it's just about creating something simple and honest with her own hands. She might never be a domestic goddess like that curvy Muggle chef on the telly, but this woman had taught her the all important lessons, such as the pleasure of baking is more important than perfect results and that the only failure is in not trying.
So she creates this cake for her anniversary to tell their story. At her wedding she had honoured the tradition of Muggles and wizards alike to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. It was meant to bring the newlyweds good luck - and it had. So today this would be the starting point for her cake.
Something old... what better than the good old Victoria Sponge. Something new... making it a bit more interesting by changing this fair vanilla sponge into a sensual, dark chocolate one. Oh yes, she thought, dark and handsome. That would do nicely. Something borrowed... she remembered she somewhere had a French recipe of what the French call 'biscuit' that creates a lighter, fluffier kind of sponge because the French don't use butter.
And then the blue thing… now what about changing the classic strawberry jam for blueberry or perhaps black current jam and putting that underneath the cream? That flavour would work well with both cream and chocolate.
As soon as Severus came home he was caught in a whiff of chocolate aroma. Following its enticing scent, he spotted Hermione's creation at their dinner table, together with a small card bearing his name in her flourishing script. At his touch, it hovered to eye-level where it opened itself for him to read:
For our anniversary I have made this 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue'-cake. Rumour has it that this tradition brings a more lasting kind of luck than Felix Felicis and I can safely assure you it does. After five years of being your wife, I still consider myself the happiest witch on earth.
So I did some research about this tradition and I learned that in some communities it is whispered that entwined with the good luck, it is also gifting the couple with fertility. And this seems to be true as well...
Reading this he looked up and saw Hermione standing in the doorway looking at him with a wonderful smile.
"Does this mean what I think it does?" he asked, amazement colouring his voice.
"Yes," she simply said, beaming. "Yes it does, my love. We are becoming parents."
Recipe for a 24cm/9-10in cake
5 medium to large eggs at room temperature, preferably free range
200g / 7 oz caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
175g / 6 oz self-rising flour
25g / 1 oz unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
300g / 12oz good-quality blueberry or black currant jam
400ml / 14 oz whipping cream (as in: cream with at minimum 35 percent fat), as cold as possible but still liquid.
3 tablespoons of sugar if the cream is unsweetened
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
some icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Grease and line either two 24cm / 9 or 10in low cake tins or one 24cm / 9 or 10in cake tin of 7,5cm / 3in height.
Put one medium size mixing bowl in the fridge to cool.
Using a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract until the cake mixture thickens and turns almost white in colour. This will take 7-12 minutes using an electric whisk. Do not try to cut corners and just give it a whisk for a minute or two; it needs time to become airy.
Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt on top of the mixture. Gently and slowly fold in the flour using a spatula or a large hand whisk. You want to keep as much of the air bubbles inside the cake mixture as possible.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins - or put everything in the higher cake tin - and gently spread out with a spatula.
Bake the low cake tins in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Bake the higher cake tin in the same way for 40-50 min.
Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack to cool.
Use the cooled mixing bowl to mix the cold whipping cream with the vanilla extract and sugar until it is a thick whipped cream.
If you made one high sponge cake, slice it in half with a bread knife.
Spread one (layer of) cake with the blueberry or black currant jam, followed by a thick layer of whipped cream. Place the other cake on top.
To serve, dust with icing sugar and serve in generous slices. Keep in the fridge if not used immediately. Cover with cling film or a plastic cake box, since sponge without butter dries out easily.