Thursday, 8 September 2011

Special Birth Centre Lemon Drizzle Cake

Last year I was part of the local birth centre planning group at the invitation of the local consultant midwife.  As chair of the local RCM I wanted to ensure the midwives wishes were being heard and that the new midwife-led service would serve the needs of local women.  As a midwifery lecturer I wanted to ensure it would be a supportive and nuturing environment for students.  As a midwife I wanted to work clinically there.  As a friend, I wanted to support Sarah, the consultant midwife, who felt like she was swimming in treacle trying to move the plans forward in the face of strong opposition.

Several unproductive meetings left us all disheartened - NHS red tape is well renowned.  Another meeting was scheduled and I felt some cake might be welcome.  I made Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Traybake and went along with my Tupperware box, a knife and some napkins.

I had COMPLETELY misjudged the occasion.  Unlike other meetings, this was a formal elite gathering in a remote trust office with executive directors and heads of departments all in suits.    They looked aghast at the midwife in denim carrying her cake tin and a dangerous knife.  The Senior Midwife cast a glance that spoke a thousand words - I was a typical midwife, representing the profession badly again, reinforcing the sterotype of a lentil eating do-gooder wearing inappropriate comfortable shoes and clothes.

The meeting began.  I hid the cake tin under the table and tried to regain some sense of equlibrium, resisting the urge to run away and attempting to find some credible insights to disarm their first impressions of me.  However, we were soon swimming in treacle again.  Stalemate.  Getting nowhere.  Our scheduled meeting time was nearly over.  Sarah looked close to tears with frustration.

I took a deep breath and said 'Would anyone like some cake?'  Another disapproving glance from The Senior Midwife.  Oh well, I thought - in for a penny, in for a pound.  'It's lemon drizzle and one of my favourites'.  Frank - the suit from estates - was the first to say yes please.  Then the blonde with kitten heels.  Then they all couldn't get a piece quick enough.

'Look', said someone, enobled by a lemony sugar-rush.  'Let's make this happen'.  10 minutes of brainstorming and bullet pointing was all it took. Afterwards Gill and I took Sarah to lunch, gave her tissues and more cake and  encouraged her to be strong, to 'hold the faith'.

Next week, our brand new purpose-built free-standing midwife-led birth centre opens to the Public.  It is everything we have dreamed of.  Sarah remains convinced it was the lemon drizzle cake that made it happen.

In case you have the chance to change your world through the power of cake, here is the recipe:

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Traybake
Preheat the oven to 160c.  Grease and line a traybake tin.

Mix together for 2 mins with electric mixer:

225g softened butter or margerine
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
275g self-raising flour
4 tbsp milk

Bake for 45 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. 

Whilst the cake is baking, prepare the drizzle mix:

175g granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins then pour over the drizzle mixture whilst warm.

1 comment:

  1. Lemon Drizzle cakes and tea is the answer to most problems! It breaks down barriers! Well done you! I hope the opening goes to plan.


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