Ma’s Kitchen: Sultana Cake

Today’s post is dedicated to my paternal Grandmother, Nan. If Nan were to be “styled” – she would be Betty Draper. Without the issues. Think natural glamour with a touch of pressed powder, a nice bright lippy and a perfectly polished pearly pink manicure. This was a lady who had her platinum blonde locks “set” weekly and a lady who knew how to dye her shoes (at home) to match her frock. She was the classic 1950s domestic goddess throwing dinner parties with aplomb and her classic 50’s-ness went right down to her wardrobe of 42 pairs of high-heeled shoes.  I’m absolutely sure that Nan had a HUGE part to play in my natural state of being an “old soul”. Nostalgic for times when you could pin on a pretty fresh orchard corsage to your collar as you trotted off, in your foxy pumps, for a night with a dashing gentleman at the Trocodero.

My earliest memories of Nan are being propped up on a kitchen stool, eye level with some lovely lurid 1960’s laminex, peering into the bowl of her iconic 60’s sunbeam mix master as she carefully instructed just what the consistency of the butter/marg and eggs should look like when the recipe called for them to be mixed until creamy. Invariably it was always a sultana cake going into that egg-shell coloured mix master.  As I grew older, nothing changed with that delicious sultana cake. Every Saturday my Dad and I would stop by Nan’s after my tennis lessons. We were greeted at the door with a big kiss and then a slab of sultana cake and a piping hot pot of tea (always complete with a home knitted cosy).

While that Sultana Cake may have been an all-Australian “CWA” classic, I think it also harks back to some Irish family traditions – being a variation of barmbrack.  In making that sultana cake Nan no doubt heard echoes of her mother and grandmother’s culinary traditions. I hope you enjoy Nan’s sultana cake – make sure to put on a splash of your brightest red lippy and turn up the volume of Glenn Miller as you crank up the speed of the mix master. 

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© Mulberry and Pomegranate
Maira Gall