Manners with a dash of caster sugar

I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.

Og Mandino (1923 -1996)

For the last four months the Pandemic-induced home quarantines spurred a great deal of home cooking and baking. I would have been one had I been able to obtain yeast. The lack of available yeast was fortunate. Even in the absence of freshly-baked bread or cakes, my waistline expanded.

Have you watched The Great British Baking Show on Netflix? The show last produced in 2019, is in its tenth season, and is wildly popular in Britain. It features two expert bakers as judges and two “hosts” who provide comic relief, relay the item the contestants will prepare, and name whom the judges have decided is “Star Baker” and the one whom they have decided will be “going home” that weekend. The bakers prepare the week’s featured savory dishes, sweet desserts, pastries, or breads. As in all British baking, butter, cream, merengues, or “sponge” (cake) are staples. Several bakers spike their desserts with liqueurs. Each succeeding week, the remaining bakers face more challenging recipes and are judged more stringently on the taste and appearance of their bakes. In the final, the winner receives an etched glass pastry plate.

What was unusual was the lack of nitpicking and gossip; each of the contestants at times helped each other, celebrated another’s win or cried for another’s departure. Og Mandino suggests that manners and good graces are what sweeten our relationships. To which I will suggest, a nice “Genoise sponge” with a Hazelnut buttercream layer and some liqueur drizzle, might make everything just that sweeter.

Don’t judge me.

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