This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
There is the theme of depression running through many Marian Keye's novels and Sushi For Beginners is one of them. This novel revolves around three women: Lisa, a magazine editor, Clodagh, happily married with adorable children and Ashling. A worrier. But as we read more about Ashling's background we find her mum suffered with depression and it affected her as she grew up. Now, as an adult, she doesn't go to see her parents much and she keeps asking her dad how she is. Wondering if she's gone depressed again. She doesn't understand how people become depressed. And her mum is trying hard, trying to be normal with Ashling and baking her butterfly buns to show how good a mum she is.
Ashling's mum is reaching out to her daughter. Baking, as we all know, is a way of showing someone you care, and that's exactly what she's done here, But she's done it with a cake you usually bake for small children (though can I just say I adore butterfly buns even though I'm no longer a child) demonstrating just how much of Ashling's childhood she missed out on. And she's back to 'normal' now, but for Ashling, even though she loves her, she finds it hard to see her.
Like the time-warp meal Ashling had with her parents, "chops, mash and peas from a can," butterfly buns are rather retro, but by adding vanilla seeds from a pod to the sponge and buttercream icing (or even something else – be inspired by the British Bake Off and the flavours they use!) the flavour becomes more rounded and grown-up.
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Mixing bowl, spoon, cupcake cases (the larger ones are better than the smaller fairy cake cases), baking tray, electric mixer
6oz butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten slightly
6oz self-raising flour
1tsp vanilla powder (or flavouring of your choice)
For butter icing
8oz icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla powder (or flavouring of your choice)
You may need more of these quantities for the butter icing depending on how much of a blob you want in your cake. I tend to use half butter to icing sugar.
- Heat oven to 180c or 160c fan.
- Cream the sugar with the butter.
- Stir in the eggs.
- Add the flour and vanilla powder until you have the cake batter. If it gets too stiff add a splash of milk.
- Half fill each cupcake case.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes (if you use a smaller case they'll need less cooking).
- They will be done when you prod gently with your finger and the sponge springs back.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool.
- For the buttercream icing mix icing sugar with the butter then add vanilla and a splash of milk. Whisk with electric beater for a few minutes.
- Cut a round circle out of the cooled cake. Slice in half.
- Spoon the icing into the hole. Place the two halves to make the wings.
- You could even add a sprinkle of hundreds and thousands like Ashling's mother did.