Plain Cake

I don’t appreciate the story ‘The Ugly Duckling’.

But disclaimer, I’m not trying to insult Hans, hell no, I have a full on fancy illustrated version of all his stories for crying out loud!

This is just a little critique. But things may become slightly heated. Like a furnace.


Sure, of course I found the story charming when I was five years old, but I also believed in fairies then. Ok, you caught me, I still do, I mean don’t you see little flashes of sprite-like light in the forest and wonder?

But sorry, sorry, nope back to my critique.

But yes, as I was saying, the main theme I get from the Ugly Duckling is ‘If you look different, you are ugly. If you are ugly, no one will want to be friends with you.’


The end.

(Patrick Star basically summed it up here, albeit, a little dramatically with the ending)

But seriously, hold the fudge up.

Harsh much?

I’m sorry, who died and made you the beauty inspector?

The ‘Ugly’ Duckling is also more than influenced by society’s perspectives, not just ostracised, his mentality is completed screwed up. “How” you may ask?

  1. He tries to pretend he. is. a. duck. Talk about peer pressure, not all birds are meant to swim from birth! And his adoptive duck ‘mother’. God what a piece of work!
    She basically crooned over her little yellow ducklings and instead of encouraging and teaching him – but she deserves a whole other post to rip her apart, I swear… If I saw her at a park I would NOT be feeding her my stale bread crumbs
  2. He (Can I name him? His name is Tom) – Tom actually becomes a bit slavish, bowing down to people he considers his ‘superiors’ – What happened to equality man? (Sorry, I say equality and my inner hippie emerges) Remember the hen and the cat? They are all like ‘I can lay eggs and I can meow, what can you do?’ – Everyone has special talents, just because some may have something unique does not make them better than you. Ever.
  3. Tom is suicidal by the end of his tale. Betcha didn’t see that coming did ya? He gives up all hope, he is tired and running away in cold, muddy marshes from bullying ducks (I’m seeing a consistent theme here highlighting mean ducks) and he just lies down and wants to go to sleep. A child will see sleep as sleep, but we all know the eternal sleep to which is referring. He is just lucky that it was just his natural hibernation systems kicking in for the winter time.
  4. When he wakes up he is beautiful. He is a swan, how could Tom be anything but stunning right? Like Aishwarya Rai after puberty. But firstly, he develops a narcissistic streak, staring at himself in the water’s reflection, surprised at just how hot he has become. Then, he sees other beautiful swans and just goes off with them.

End of story.


So all in all, Tom suffered from severe inferiority complex. As a result became suicidal. Emerged unscathed and beautiful and went off with people like him because god forbid he becomes friends with another species or someone ugly.

If anything, Tom should have learnt from past experiences and become an idol, standing up for those that their animalistic society deemed ‘too ugly’ to be in contact with.


My suggestion is rubbish, obviously.

I think the only good message out of this story is that at least he was not some hot vengeful swan that went back and snapped his ‘mother’s’ beak off. Or something of the kind.

Also can I just say this story is called ‘The Ugly Duckling’. That means, that despite turning into a swan and having a happy, pencil-necked life, his future children by duck standards will always be ugly.


Oh. My. God. Hans what were you trying to teach the generation? No wonder so many kids are screwed up from the beginning!

Told you things would be a little heated.

Am I guilty of this awfulness? Hell yes, ashamedly, and I continue to be sometimes. Human nature and what not, but I am trying to control how judgemental I am towards people based on their looks alone. It is a known fact that we are attracted to more beautiful people, things, but here is what separates us from the animals (though this is not letting Tom or supporting characters off the hook since they had human-esque personas).


We can think about it. And when we think about it, we know better right? But it is definitely hard to go against our natural biology.

C’mon who has ever had a run in with their own personal Regina George? I know I have.

Want to join me in becoming less judgemental? Making sure no one feels like an Ugly Duckling? 🙂


Now, even writing this, then reading back, I can imagine you guys think this is just a little dose of my psychology studies coming to head and needing to be expressed. I would be honest and totally tell if it was, No, this is a personal feeling that just sprung up today.

You see I was making ‘Plain Cake’.

Um, yeah the post’s title obviously had significance, please keep up.


I know now that it is called Madeira cake, and today I learnt that Madeira is actually a type of alcohol. But when I was 7 or 8, my brother 10 or 11, we used to eat this cake, packaged from the store, constantly. But it was no mud cake. It was no black forest. It wasn’t even vanilla.

Thus it was just plain. Hence the name.

But you know, I just made Plain cake today at home for the first time. My mum ate an entire small loaf of it (sorry for the reveal dude!)


She has never done that for a chocolate cake. So tell me dear readers. Who’s really the ‘plain’ one now? 

P.S. To all the literally, metacognitive wannabe freaks who are reading this and going ‘then why did you dress up the cake, you should let it be beautiful in it’s own right, then why does society have make up BLAH BLAH BLAH’ I have one thing to say to you. Please take your BS elsewhere. We all know what point I am trying to make you creepy ‘Let’s be overly literal and start a damn cyber war’ internet slobs.

But thanks for visiting 🙂

Madeira Plain Cake

Adapted from: Cordon Bleu Original Masterclass: Cakes

Printable Recipe!


  • 240g caster sugar
  • 230g butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250g plain flour
  • Marmalade


  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Grease and flour a mini loaf tin case.
  2. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
  3. Add in the eggs and beat till a smooth and creamy mixture. Beat in the vanilla essence.
  4. Sift in the plain flour and fold into the mixture using a giant metal spoon or plastic spatula.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins up to the top (it doesn’t rise much) and smooth the tops with the back of the spatula.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean (mine was done in 18)
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing from the tins and sitting on a wire rack.
  8. Warm the marmalade.
  9. Poke holes in the still-warm cakes on top using a fork and brush the marmalade generously on top.
  10. Let cool to room temperature before devouring the moist delicious cakes.



  • In the book, it says you can actually sprinkle some madeira on top which is a nice adult touch
  • The book also calls for making candied lemon rinds and placing them on top of the cake before baking for an extra citrusy touch – I didn’t have time thus the improvised marmalade
  • You can substitute around 50g of the plain flour for desiccated coconut if you are in a daring mood

Rant over mes cheris, till next time 😀

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  1. CCu, I am with your Auntie on this one – it looks beautifully moist and delicious! I’d scarf down one of those little loaves in a heartbeat! Love the story, and I always thought that tale was a little twisted, too! 🙂


  2. Ramona W says:

    There is nothing plain about these little cuties… They look moist and perfect. Your standard plain butter cake is harder to make than most think… my friend baked a “plain” cake for my last birthday and it was a dry mess. You have it right here! Love the touch of marmalade!


  3. I agree with you re: Ugly Duckling! Never read that to my children – and they won’t hear that story from me! I mean, I’m not trying to shield them from this broken world, but it’s just not something I want them to hear at such a young, impressionable age. If they hear this story from another source, then I will be the responsible parent and discuss with them.

    Anyway, on the good things. I like plain. And there’s nothing wrong with plain cakes. They satisfy hunger and cravings! ’nuff said!


  4. rika says:

    I used to believe in fairies when I was little, how funny! These plain cakes remind me of pound cakes I used to eat in the past and I love them with maple syrup, strawberries and strawberry glaze. Simpler desserts are the best and loveliest!


  5. Pingback: Plain Cake | homethoughtsfromabroad626

  6. I Wilkerson says:

    I was wondering how you were going to get from the Ugly Duckling to food! The cake looks like a pound cake which, while not fancy looking, impresses with all the rich butter. I’ve never had a Madeira cake but would love to taste!


  7. helene dsouza says:

    Like Aishwarya Rai after puberty??! AHAHA =D
    Yeah I always felt sorry for “Tom” as you call him. What if it’s a she btw? 😉
    I could need your cake right now Uru!


  8. I grew up on Madeira cake too, form Marks and Spencer’s 🙂
    Love, love that cake and I love it because it is plain.
    And it’s called Madeira because you have it with the Madeira wine, a piece of cake on the side.
    The Madeira wine is the showy thing in this pairing.
    And you are right, some of those stories were just so politically not correct.
    I can think of a couple of kids shows that burned my goose too.
    Oh well, I try not to judge but there seems to be quite a bit of hate in this world.
    If they’d all chill and eat more dessert, they’d all realise how silly they are.


  9. shashi @ says:

    Hahaha! I sure am glad I found you – you are hilarious! I love how you segued into plain cake from Hans’ “Ugly Dukling”!!! Btw – you make a good point – a lot of the early fairy-tales and poems and rhymes had the most horrific messages – but I don’t think I would ever have thought to come up with “plain” or “madeira” cake to illustrate this point! 🙂
    Btw – I recently commented on another blog how I hadn’t ever tried my hand at making madeira cake and today you post this! Thanks lady!


  10. I do like simple, “plain” cakes though I wouldn’t really use the word plain to describe them because though they may not look like much, they are so delicious! Madeira cakes are really lovely as you can really taste the butter in them..and they are so moist and light.


  11. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    I agree! My mother used to call me her little ugly duckling when I was a kid. I don’t think I ever recovered fully. I say I did but deep down, probably not. I love this cake – give me whipped cream and berries (to make it healthy) and I’m in!


  12. Plain cake is really good for breakfast! 🙂 I have one granddaughter who wants chocolate cake, and the richer the better, and her sister wants it as plain as we can make it. So this is a wonderful recipe for me to surprise her. This is definitely more beautiful swan than ugly duckling!


  13. hahaha Uru, you crack me up. Hans and the rest of the fairy tale authors (whose works I’m actually studying and teaching right now, actually) were totally into a different standard of morals. Go figure! I’d personally take five slices of this cake right now and here, you know 😀


  14. mjskit says:

    Actually, a very good analogy for this “plain” cake. 🙂 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or in this case, the taster. Bet this taste awesome!


  15. thelady8home says:

    I have had the same angst against the Ugly Duckling story. And yet, I also can’t forget that it was my first ever classic that I read when I was five, won in a prize. So I love the tale, and hate the story…but I know I am going to LOVE that cake and will be baking it soon. Happy new yr!


  16. Wether it’s plain / ugly or whatnot – you can’t beat a nice sponge. Plus these are really sweet, imagine getting one of these little loaves wrapped in some brown paper. I’d want to be friends with it. Or eat it. I’m not sure, I’ve confused myself. EEK


  17. Eva Taylor says:

    Plain? This is anything but plain! Perfect for a side of coffee or tea. Or even the start of some triffel. I love the little loaf pans too, I should bring mine out of hibernation and put them to good use.


  18. I never thought about that tale in quite that way, CCU! But I did love my fairy tales. Come to think of it, many of them make a big issue about “pretty” and “ugly.” Hmmmm. Anyway – that “plain” cake looks absolutely stunning and I know it tastes incredible!


  19. navane64 says:

    Indeed a good analysis on the movie. I so agree with what you have said. Ugly is shouldn’t be the word because no one is. I love the cake, I love the simple technic and I would love to try a slice please.


  20. I agree. We should be more accepting of people no matter what they look like. It’s terrible how some people suffer because of discrimination. Doggies, for instance, and many children are so accepting no matter what the person looks like. We can learn from them for sure!! God made us all. He doesn’t make mistakes. We are here for a reason and for a testing period, and we’re given these “tents/bodies” for short while here on earth. We had no say so over our particular “tents”.


  21. A_Boleyn says:

    That’s definitely a novel take on “The Ugly Duckling” fairy tale. But a glorious white swan drifting silently on the water IS beautiful … like your plain cake brushed only with a bit of melted marmalade.


  22. viveka says:

    Love the name you have given this cake – plain cake …
    And your story …. so true and you have really picked up the true meaning of the story, that as I child disliked so much. Today is all about that we have to look perfect … more than ever before, and it starts before school. I feel sorry for the young today – the pressure they are under and it’s the adult world that create it. When teenage girls at 16 get their breast fixed!!!! Scary stuff and we forget all about the inside.


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