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let us eat cake

Our little adventure down South threw me way off my game: in the first week back, I managed to burn that super-easy tomato sauce that you all liked so well (I’m still not sure how that happened) and transfer a much-needed cake directly from the oven to the kitchen floor.  It was not a banner cooking week.

But there were wild blueberries in the market, and they’re delicious, but kind of a pain to eat out of hand.  In fact, they are the perfect baking blueberry, so I set out to find a recipe worthy of them.  The one I settled on was a cake – part coffee-cake, part-dessert, and perfect to bring to a Tupperware-esque party my sister was having.  It looked easy, which, apparently, was the speed I was working at last week.   But, being one of those rediscovered recipes from the 1950s that Cook’s Country loves, it had a ridiculous name – “Blueberry Boy Bait” (what would Mount Holyoke think?!) and seemed oddly lacking in complementary flavors, except for a scant quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.  I had a starting point, but the recipe needed some oomph.  Read More

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If I have a philosophy on food and eating, it’s been that homemade is better 95 percent of the time, and that homemade equals wholesome, even if it’s sweet or fattening or decadent.  I doubt any nutritionist will be handing me an award for heart-healthiness anytime soon, but I hope that when my kids get older, they’ll remember warm chocolate chip cookies that Mom made, and that eating one was just enough of a treat.  As such, we don’t keep bags of Chips Ahoy or Twinkies in the house, and I try to make breads and cakes to keep around.

And I get very excited to make birthday cakes, because how else can I – being who I am – tell you how special you are than by measuring and mixing and layering and frosting a tower of sugar in your honor? Read More


This is a spin on the much-blogged-about French yogurt cake (gataeux au yaourt), but I like to call it a muffin cake, because it shares the moist crumb and subtle sweetness that characterizes good breakfast muffins.  And because that somehow makes me feel better about eating it for breakfast.

Now, this is in no way some original idea.  Clotilde over at Chocolate & Zucchini turned many people on to the traditional French recipe a few years back, which is so easy and so versatile that it’s often the first thing that French children learn to bake.  The recipe and interpretations of it regularly make rounds in the food blogging universe.  I’d seen it when she first posted it, and filed it away as something to try.  In the meantime, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen revived and revised it as a lime cake with blackberry sauce about a week ago.  Her method simplified the cake even further (one bowl!) and reminded me that I’d been meaning to make a version myself.

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I’m considering changing my name to “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.” Mom is just too darn easy to say, it seems.  It’s been a comically rough few days here with two demanding and willful wee ones, and the solution to today was baking.

Luckily, the baking was facilitated by the unseasonal 90-degree weather yesterday, and today’s 60-degree follow-up.  Yesterday, after our trip to the beach (yes, the beach, on April 7) I saw what appeared to be gorgeous blackberries and raspberries in the market.  Something about the heat must have made me forget they were still shipped in from California or Chile or some such actually-warm place, and that the shipping doesn’t do them many favors.  Anyway, today’s more normal temps reminded me that, while sweet, they weren’t quite the have-them-with-some-cream-for-breakfast kind of berries we get at locally at the height of summer – they needed some concentrating to make them special.  And, as luck would have it, I had a working oven that would be perfect for the task.

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It’s once again raining buckets in Boston, and the Lad was having a friend over this afternoon.  I wanted to have something on hand that they boys could snack on, and that the other mom and I could enjoy with a cup of tea.  Banana bread would have fit the bill, but, yes, we had no bananas …

But we did have some frozen raspberries, and this little recipe.  This bread is much like the banana, blueberry, date nut, and zucchini loaves we’ve surely all enjoyed (and even taken for granted), but surprises with the unexpected, subtly sweet taste of raspberries.  When I first found the recipe, I assumed it would be like a blueberry loaf – just a big muffin, studded with fruit.  That sounded good.

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It’s birthday season here, so let’s talk about cake.  I’m a yellow-cake-and-chocolate-frosting devotee, but I can also be talked into chocolate cake paired with cream cheese frosting.  And a moist chocolate cake baked in a Bundt pan and served with the barest sifting of confectioner’s sugar is something one might find on our counter with some regularity.

I have what might be considered to be unconventional opinions regarding frosting.  Apparently, many people view cake primarily as a vehicle for frosting, whereas I prefer frosting to be a mere slick of contrast to the flavor and texture of the cake.

This old-fashioned little cake, included in a set of “lost” recipes compiled by the folks over at America’s Test Kitchen, seemed like it would hit all my sweet spots: pantry ingredients, no fussy egg white beating, frosting that becomes almost part of the cake itself, casual enough to be served straight from the pan.  It’s an everyday cake, with Southern, Depression-era roots, and yet it appeared to have a modern, shabby-chic appeal.  I had to give it a try.

I am not sorry I did. The cake itself is subtly sweet, almost spongy, and a breeze to whip up – as long as you’re willing to beat the eggs long enough to achieve real loft and body.  And the frosting … well, yum.  It’s like the best part of German Chocolate Cake, only so much easier to make (and, the cake isn’t chocolate, of course, but we already talked about my preference for yellow cakes.)

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