Cake works in every situation. Cake is good for celebrations. Cake is good when you're feeling blue. Cake is good for children and old people and everyone else. Cake is good in the morning and the afternoon and late at night. Cake is good with coffee and with whiskey and with a glass of cold water.
Baking a cake is one of the most fantastically powerful acts a person can take with a handful of ingredients and a bit of time. Baking a cake on a beautiful day affirms the glory of the sun in the sky and the birds in the trees, the elegant design of the universe, the magic of the bones in our bodies and the synapses in our brains. Baking a cake on a day that's cold, rainy, snowy, lonely, stretching out before you with little direction, when no one's calling or when the person you love is far away creates a moment of simple purpose.
Delia Smith understands all this, and provides a set of straightforward recipes for every occasion. Sponge cake, whether plain or lemon-flavored, is pretty and light and good for summer when served with fruit and cream—and good for fall and winter when flavored with coffee and walnuts. Simple loaf cakes made with ginger, banana, or walnut are best eaten in the afternoon with a cup of tea, and then again in the morning with a cup of coffee. She has a whole section on "Chocolatey Cakes" and another on "Cakes for Occasions," which includes a 9-page recipe for wedding cake! Plus biscuits, scones, muffins, cheesecakes...and old-fashioned "slab cakes," which are perfect for picnics, children's birthday parties, and spaghetti dinners, and can be flavored with oranges and almonds or cherries or spiced apples or even caraway seeds.
"Cakes are often symbols of love and friendship," Ms. Smith explains. "If someone actually goes to the trouble of baking a cake specially for family or friends, the recipient can't fail to feel spoiled and cared-for." Sometimes others spoil you, sometimes you spoil another, and sometime you just care for yourself. Love and friendship, everyone.