This Christmas season, I have been thinking about Sugi Cakes - my way of holding on to a sense of myself amid a whirl of other people's Christmas needs and neuroses.
I have, in my collection of recipes, a recipe for Sugi Cake - semolina cake - that came from a handwritten book of recipes given to me by the aunt of an ex-boyfriend. She gave it to me as a sign of affection and welcome into the family. The boyfriend and I broke up later that year and the book has since disintegrated and been lost. But I copied this one recipe into another book for safe-keeping.
I made this cake once, a long time ago, within the first few years of my arrival in Canada. Perhaps I needed to hold on to a sense of myself amid the whirl of arriving in a new place. At that time, freshly departed from Malaysia, taste memories still sharp, my confidence in my ability to translate/adapt half-remembered words and measurements was high.
But I now look at the recipe with the antiquated measuring system and the imprecise names - kaundor? - and cannot so easily find this confidence.
Here is the recipe. Only ingredients. No instructions.
1 kati sugi
1 kati sugar
1 1/4 kati butter
1/2 kati kaundor
2 pieces preserved nutmeg
1 piece preserved lime
1 teaspoon rose essence
1/2 kati ground almonds
4 tahils flour
1/4 kati raisins
1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves
1 wine glass brandy
I invite you to experiment, adapt, improve and share your results.
Happy New Year.