Thursday 26 February 2009

Why the bird sings . . .

There is nothing sweeter of a morning, than to listen to the birds as they wake up and begin their dawn chorus . . . so melodic and beautiful to hear. It really fills my heart with joy. It is in the spring time that their little chirps and cheeps become even sweeter and more pleasant to listen to, making each early morn a pure delight to listen to.

An Ornithologist might well tell you that birds sing merely to attract a mate, and, while that may be true, I prefer to think of the following explanation . . .

There is an ancient Jewish legend that tells us that, after creating the world, and before creating Man, God took a break. He gathered all his angels around and asked them what they thought of His work thus far. All agreed, to the very last one, that the Earth was, indeed, a beautiful masterpiece.

Then, one angel dared to suggest it lacked a little something. All gasped in dismay . . . how could this be . . . and then he explained himself by stating that the world lacked only the sound of praise for it's Creator.

And so . . . God created birdsong.

I think I like that little muse . . . birdsong does very much sound like a celebration of praise for all the Creator's hard work. What a wonderful thought . . .

Sometimes I feel really nostalgic for years gone by and I crave something to eat that is totally homey and comforting. This cake fits that bill perfectly. It is a basic cake that my mother used to make for us during the whole time I was growing up. A plain and simple sponge, she always filled it with raspberry preserves, as that is the way my father loved eating it most of all. I have always loved it filled with lemon curd, but . . . my Todd is much like my father, he loves it with raspberry preserves as well. It's a beautiful little cake, very moist and delicious, no matter what you choose to fill it with.

Sometimes the simple things are the best of all things. I think one bite of this lovely cake may very well cause you to agree . . .

*Mom's Hot Milk Cake*
Makes one 7 inch square cake

The original recipe for this cake is written on a scrap of paper, with only a method laid out and the ingredients interspersed. Old recipes often are put down in this way. It's all a part of their charm, I think. I have tried to explain it in a more understandable way here. Once cooled the cake can be split in two and then filled with lemon curd and topped with some whipped cream, or . . . you can do as my mother did, and simply fill it with some raspberry preserves. Either way I am sure you will love it. We do.

3 large eggs, separated
1 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk, heated until quite hot,
with 1 TBS butter melted into it
1 tsp vanilla
To finish:
Fruit preserves or Lemon curd
Icing sugar, optional
Whipped cream, if desired

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease a seven inch square baking pan and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl until light in colour. Slowly beat in the sugar, beating it until the egg yolks form ribbons when the beaters are lifted from the bowl.

Stir together the hot milk, butter and vanilla, stirring until the butter melts. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat this into the egg yolk mixture alternating with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with dry.

Carefully fold in the egg whites, folding gently until they are totally amalgamated into the mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until well risen and the top springs back when lightly touched, or a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool for five minutes before removing the cake from the pan completely and allowing it to cool on the wire rack until cold.

Once cool, split into half horizontally and fill with the preserves or lemon curd and top with either a dusting of icing sugar or some whipped cream.


  1. Good morning,
    I too love hearing the birds sing. In spring and summer they always are my wake up alarm.... which is great after so many years of having a radio wake me up before sun up. I don't hear them in the winter. I don't know if it is because they are not singing or if I just can't hear them with our windows closed. I will look forward to hearing them more as the weather warms up.

    I am a bit blue tonight... I got called in to see the bishop and got released from YW . Our pres. is moving and the new pres has called someone else to do PP. ... bummer....I love the girls and loved that calling... and the girls love me. I will miss them soooo much. The RS has asked for me to be a teacher. It is going to be hard for me to give up the fun and excitment of being in Young Women.

    That cake looks like it is easy and fun. I will try it.

    Have a good day. Good luck with your lessons tonight. XOXO Lura

  2. When Cami is trying to get me out of bed (I won't permit her to get me out of bed before 6 no matter how much she begs), she'll go look at kitchen clock. In the early hour when it's just her & me, we sometimes listen for the birds. . .it's so wonderful to hear that song in the dark hours when most of the world is quiet.

  3. Hello Marie :) Sorry I haven't been commenting lately but I've been taking a break from writing, trying to get back to it but it's hard.
    The birds have been singing more and more here also in the morning ~ we have oodles of cardinals around here and these little tiny finch birds. They make me smile almost everytime I see them playing in the shrubs that run the length of our property... they also loove to tease the dogs terribly when they are out in their dog run LOL they "boys" just lay there with their heads moving back and forth, back and forth watching their little antics almost like they are doggy smiling!
    The recipe looks fabulous today, I will be trying it soon I'm sure! I've missed you. Blessings* Teresa

  4. AWW..MARY POPPINS...;-)



  5. Bird song...the best alarm clock! I heard sweet Blue Tits singing this morning...almost sounded like spring...*SIGH*...Your cake is delightful, Marie. I could go for a slice now to perk up the afternoon--LOL! ;o) Oh, was wondering, will you be back with Thrifty Thursdays again soon? Hope you're having a great day, dear friend. LOVE YOU ((HUGS))

  6. Yes I second your love of bird song and the reason for it ,is an excellent one ,excuse me Im off to bake a cake ,,sorry I havent been around as much lately .love Jan xx

  7. Thank you for that legend of the birdsong today. How wonderful it is to hear the sweet songs of the birds singing their hearts out. I guess it should be a reminder to me to do the same. Too often I forget the praising and do just the asking. Both are so important.
    Your cake sounds so good. I'll add that to my recipe box for sure.
    Hope your Thursday is a great one.
    'On Ya'-ma

  8. Hi Marie
    I agree with you about the birds. As I write this I can hear them chirping outside. We have these little Carolina wrens that make the loudest noise and it is so cute to watch them because their whole body gets into the act as they stick out their chest and throw back their little head and make a very loud noise.
    I am glad to have my computer back and finally getting to visit my wonderful bloging friends again.
    Hope you have had a great day today.
    Hugs, Rhondi

  9. I am wild about birdsong. I am particularly taken away by the hauntingly beautiful call of the white throated sparrow! I anxiously await their return each spring. They havent returned yet, so during the interim I make do with Danny Gibson's beautiful cd's incorporating birdsong in his classical music! Love those!!!!

  10. Oh I like that story of why the birds sing. The birds in my piece of the world are starting to sing more, gather around and delight me on my daily walks. It's the first sign for me that spring really is coming, and soon~
    Have a great weekend.

  11. cali LOVES birds! everytime we go outside and a bird sings she points and gets so so excited. its the cutest thing ever:) we have two cardinals and a blue jay that always come to our trees in the backyard. they are gorgeous and sing so pretty.

  12. Hi Marie - welcome back home. The stories about your trip were very poignant to read. I teared up reading about not being able to see your daughter the first day. But all turned out well.

    The hot milk cake - it was just about a year ago that I made, for the first time, such a cake. The process is so interesting. I marvel sometimes at the chemistry in baking. Thanks for the recipe.

  13. and that is why one never kids a Mockingbird. its sole purpose is the sing of us.

    Love the look of that cake. i love cakes with a fruit filling like that!
    hugs to you

  14. Ooooh that looks like a great cake. I love the idea of it with lemon curd (one of the best things!) x

  15. So good to visit you again and feel the warm comfort of your words and yummy recipes.

    Thanks for stopping by to check on me.

  16. I love the quiet of the early morning when all you can hear are the birds singing its very peaceful.

  17. Hi Marie I'm having a giveaway stop by & leave a comment!!!!! The cake looks delicious as always !!!!! Marie x

  18. Marie I love the morning birds song!! but Im in the sea now, and yes at Home I wake up with the birds, are so nice!!!
    I love this recipe Marie,xxxGloria

  19. What a lovely myth. I had never thought of birdsong that way before.

  20. Hi, I heard the birs sing this weei and lved it too. Love your explanation of their songs especially. I have wondered what a "sponge" cake was ever since seeing The Calendar Girls movie. It must be basically when you beat egg whites and yolks separately and then incorporated the dry ingredients. Am I right? I am so hungry writing about it now! Did you see that movie? It is one of my favorites. Happy Day to you!

  21. I owe you a long e-mail. There's been a lot--both good and bad.

  22. Hi Marie!

    I love to hear birds singing too! I can't wait for the weather to warm up so they will come and sing again.

    Your cake looks wonderful! I hope you had a great day today!!!



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