My 17 yr old is on the Special K diet. Again. You know the one. Where you eat a bowl of Special K for breakfast, another for lunch and then a “balanced meal” for dinner. Ever ask a 17 yr old what their idea of “balanced” is? It doesn’t belong in a meal I can promise you that.
So we have several boxes of Special K in the cupboard. Plain and fruit. That’s the freeze-dried kind. Mmmm, you are salivating right?
A few of us end up eating it for breakfast. My 10 yr old, G, included. (Not for dietary reasons I might add. She likes it.) G is lucky to have what the fashion industry believes to be the perfect figure. Straight up and straight down. No butt, no hips, not an ounce of fat. It’s her father’s body.
Me not so lucky (if the fashion industry has anything to say about it). Curvy and prone to fat deposits on my bottom, hips and thighs. Except I am flat chested as well so it’s sort of Mad Men meets Heroin Chic.
Anyway, back to the story.
There we were munching on our Special K when the 10 yr old announces that the woman on the cereal box is fat. It’s the one where she is wearing a red bathing suit. I was pretty shocked by this declaration but tried to play it cool.
“She’s not fat. Just curvy.”
“Mum,” she replied, “curvy is fat.”
Being in a rush to get to school, there wasn’t much time for a
lecture discussion on the importance of accepting all body shapes and sizes. There were so many things going around in my head. Part of me found it funny, but the other was horrified. The Special K girl looked perfect to me. How could G think she was fat?
Thing is, I’m pretty sure when G gets older, whatever shape she does end up with, she will be unhappy with some aspect of it (if not all of it). Which makes me wonder if it is inevitable that we all end up hating the body we have. Small boobs, double ds, narrow hips, a Beyonce booty, elephant ankles, muffin tops, frizzy hair that needs ironing out, flat hair that needs bouncing up….the list goes on. It’s a constant struggle to make ourselves look just right.
If I could give my daughters one thing it would be to love their look “warts and all”. Just how they are. I see myself at 17 when I see my daughter and all I can think is “why didn’t I know how great I looked?”
Apple Cake with Apple Icing
4 tablespoons water
280g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
120 ml olive oil
160g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 cm dice
2 egg whites
100g butter at room temperature
100g light brown sugar
85 ml maple syrup
220g cream cheese at room temperature
Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 170c/Gas Mark 3.
Over a low heat simmer the sultanas and water in a small pan until all the water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda with a whisk until combined. Set aside.
Mix the oil and sugar in a freestanding mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a whisk). Slit the vanilla pod lengthways in half and scrape the seeds out into the bowl. Mix and then gradually add the eggs. The mix should be smooth and thick. Add the apples, sultanas, lemon zest. Mix. Lightly fold in the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites, either by hand or with a hand-held mixer, until they are meringue-like in consistency. Fold them into the batter gently trying to lose as little air as possible.
Pour the batter into the lined tin, level it and place into oven. Bake for 90 mins, or until skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave to cool in tin.
While it is cooling you can make the icing. Beat together the butter, sugar and maple syrup until light and airy. Add the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth.
To assemble the cake: remove from tin and use a large serrated knife to cut it horizontally in half. You will end up with 2 similar discs. Using a palette knife, spread a 1cm-thick layer of icing over the bottom half of the cake. Carefully place the top half on it. Spoon the rest of the icing on top and use the palette knife to create a wave-like pattern.
If you would prefer the cake without icing, you can serve it whole and just sprinkle icing sugar on the top.