"The boy had separated the fire into two glowing hillocks. From between these he now pulled a flat stone on which were baking a number of little cakes. The two children ate them hungrily as soon as they were cold enough to hold. They were brown on the outside, white and floury within, and sweet to taste.
'Your cakes are splendid, Simon,' Bonnie said. 'How do you make them?'
'From chestnut flour, Miss Bonnie. I gather up the chestnuts in the autumn and pound them to flour between two stones.' "
Food features strongly in Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; there are the pasties, apple dumplings, apple cheescakes, lemon tarts and porridge with thick yellow cream which the children are fortunate enough to get from various sources on their way to London, there is the grim and meagre fare they are unfortunate enough to have set before them at Mrs. Brisket's, and there's the comforting food of home at Willoughby Chase itself, warming possets and pipkins of hot savoury soup, the cosy room aglow with a rose-scented nightlight, the girls warm from their baths scented with bunches of lemon mint.
But it is Simon's chestnut cakes I've made to go with the book (which we're talking about here) - drop scones or Scotch pancakes made with chestnut flour and cooked on a piece of Bake-o-Glide on the Aga simmering plate.
They don't look like much, but well-browned and rustic and sweetly earthy of flavour they are a taste of that scene where Bonnie and Sylvia find sanctuary in Simon's surprisingly comfortable cave, and they go down well with a drizzle of maple syrup.