The Justified Greengage

Like a sum­mer dah­lia frozen in ice, this post is pos­sibly slightly per­verse (the flower-freez­ing thing isn’t always daft — some­times it’s edible.) I have a slightly sink­ing feel­ing that what I’m about to embark on may repel before it entices. But, as with my posts on Fermat’s Last The­or­em and the French writer Ray­mond Queneau, it may be worth stick­ing with until the end, when at least there’ll be cake.

This is a homily about the hom­onym, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pro­nun­ci­ation, but have dif­fer­ent mean­ings. The word that star­ted all this off is the hom­onym jus­ti­fied, which can be typo­graph­ic­al or simply excus­able. And the reas­on I’m going on about it is because of the lay­out of this page. I don’t much like text that’s

flush on the left but ragged on the right

or ragged on the left but flush on the right

And, even worse, text that hov­ers some­where in the middle of the page, without any real clue what it’s doing there

What I try to use is jus­ti­fied text — it’s so sooth­ingly square and sym­met­ric­al. But there’s some­thing bossily sanc­ti­mo­ni­ous about the oth­er mean­ing of the word jus­ti­fied, that I really don’t like; boast­ing that it, and only it, is right (not as in left, but as in cor­rect, which is of course anoth­er hom­onym). We tend to use the word jus­ti­fied when we want to bol­ster our slightly flag­ging defences. Think of the 19th Cen­tury nov­el The Private Mem­oirs and Con­fes­sions of a Jus­ti­fied Sin­ner by James Hogg, if you want to find an example of just such a usage. Mem­oirs they may be, con­fes­sions they could be, but jus­ti­fied they cer­tainly are not.

So this is a post about jus­ti­fied in a typo­graph­ic­al sense, but not in a sanc­ti­mo­ni­ous sense. The green­gage of my title is jus­ti­fied in that it stops the cake from being ragged left, ragged right or simply all over the place. It’s an addi­tion that makes the cake right (as in per­fect, not as in left.)


  • 180 grams unsalted but­ter
  • 180 grams caster sug­ar plus extra table­spoon
  • 180 grams self-rais­ing flour
  • 100 grams ground almonds
  • 3 medi­um eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tea­spoon vanilla essence
  • Hand­ful ripe green­gages, halved and stoned
  • Hand­ful ripe blue­ber­ries
  • Hand­ful flaked almonds

Pre­heat the oven to 175 C. But­ter a 25 cm cake tin and line the bot­tom with parch­ment. Beat the but­ter and sug­ar togeth­er until pale and fluffy look­ing. Whisk the eggs with a fork and mix them in, a little at a time. Sieve the flour to add a little air and fold it in, along with the ground almonds, the vanilla essence and a pinch of salt.

Tip the mix­ture into the cake tin and push the green­gage halves into the mix­ture, cut side up, until semi-sub­merged, but still vis­ible. Do the same with the blue­ber­ries and then sprinkle the extra table­spoon of sug­ar over the lot. Place in the middle of the oven. After half an hour, pull the tin out briefly so that you can sprinkle the top of the cake with the flaked, blanched almonds (add them any earli­er than this and the nuts will burn). Place the tin back in the oven for anoth­er half and hour.

Take the cake out of the oven and, after half an hour, remove from the tin. This is one of those cakes that, without ques­tion, tastes bet­ter the next day. So you can be an entirely Jus­ti­fied Sin­ner by eat­ing the entire thing, single-handed, in two days.

p.s. To leaven this mix­ture a little, I will leave you with an example of what hap­pens if you muddle up your hom­onyms:

The thief tripped as he tried to make his get­away and landed in a cement mix­er. He became a hardened crim­in­al.

If You are engaged in pur­chas­ing medic­a­ments online, now may be the sea­son to do so. So the next ques­tion is where can you find inform­a­tion that is reli­able. You can get such inform­a­tion fast and con­veni­ently by going online. There are many ill­nesses such as schizo­phrenia which have no cure. One of the most pop medi­cine is Via­gra. What about com­par­is­on between Cial­is versus Levitra and ? Nearly every adult knows about . Oth­er ques­tion we have to is . The symp­toms of sexu­al dis­orders in men include lack of sexu­al fantas­ies. Not­with­stand­ing sex is not vital for good health, it’s cer­tainly good for any­one. So if you are exper­i­en­cing erectile prob­lems, it is essen­tial to see a cer­ti­fied doc­tor forth­with for a com­plete medi­cin­al test­ing. Cer­tainly, online phar­macy can hands-down help you for solv­ing your all per­son­al dif­fi­culties.

19 thoughts on “The Justified Greengage

    • I’m glad you like the image of the frozen dah­lia. The dis­tort­ing effect of ice makes for inter­est­ing pic­tures, I think.

  1. I agree with jakey, that pic­ture of the frozen dah­lia is abso­lutely stun­ning, and I really like to see the green­gage being put to great use, it’s one of my favor­ite fruits!

  2. Wel­come back, dear Charlie. Your post so made me smile… maybe because I am a word lov­er, a gram­mar lov­er or maybe because I love your wit and wis­dom, your play on words and your amaz­ing food. And I now know what I can make with the beau­ti­ful green­gage plums now on the mar­ket.

    • I adore green­gages and planted a small tree last year — no fruit yet, alas. I ate them for the very first time in France — many years ago — so I always asso­ci­ate them with your adop­ted coun­try.

  3. Would nev­er have thought of freez­ing a dah­lia, but it makes a won­der­ful brush­stroke art­work of a photo.
    Totally agree about jus­ti­fied text — have been mut­ter­ing dire threats about a design­er who will use centred text on web­sites that I’ve writ­ten the con­tent for, mak­ing it dec­or­at­ive rather than functional…grrrr!
    The cake looks won­der­ful, if only I could get my hands on some green­gages, when it’s spring over here now. Maybe I could try apricots and young­ber­ries in a month or so?

    • Yes — apricots would be won­der­ful, espe­cially with the almonds. Centred text on a web­site? How hor­rible — so messy and very hard to read.

  4. Oh wow — that frozen dah­lia! At first I thought it was a ginger flower pre­served in syr­up 🙂 I did not grow up with green­gages so I nev­er know what to do with them — maybe this cake will provide the impetus I need to start bak­ing with them. I am a suck­er for words and word­play so, of course, I love this post. When I was a teen­ager, my mom and I had a run­ning joke about the hom­onyms funny (amus­ing) and funny (a bit odd). Every time each of us used the word funny, the oth­er would always chime in “Funny ha-ha or funny pecu­li­ar?”. I miss her every day.

    • I’m sure you do miss her — I know how you feel. Memor­ies like that are very sus­tain­ing, although slightly mourn­ful at the same time.

  5. This cake looks very sim­il­ar to one I recently made with plums. I will try it again with green­gages, if there are any left in the mar­ket. It took me years to real­ise that the French for green­gage is reine-claude, I knew I liked them when I saw them in the mar­ket, but just didn’t make the con­nec­tion.

  6. Oh no, nev­er jus­ti­fied type please. Jus­ti­fied type really needs care­ful kern­ing (spa­cing) to be pleas­ing. Range left is far more pleas­ing. And jus­ti­fied type imme­di­ately makes me think of Word, IMHO the most awful soft­ware sent to plague us.

    The cake, how­ever, looks abso­lutely, taste­fully, pleas­ingly gor­geous.

    • As an exper­i­ment, I’ll write my next post ranged left. I know what you mean about care­ful kern­ing, but my columns are pretty nar­row, which makes it less of an issue. I’m fas­cin­ated by typo­graphy — it sounds as though you are too — and I’m try­ing my best to per­fect my let­ter­press skills on a print­ing press that used to belong to my fath­er. It’s a slow old busi­ness though.

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