When I come home from church on Sunday afternoons, after meeting my friend Jackie for lunch, listening to her tell me stories about her fourth-grade class and the funny things they say, I kick off my shoes and pull up my hair and think about taking a long, comfortable nap, with blankets piled high, the windows open and the fresh breeze flowing in. But instead, for weeks in a row now, I’ve done no such thing. Instead, go figure, I’ve been baking cakes.
It all started when my brother told me about that coconut recipe he saw; then there was the yogurt I wanted to try baking with, although that might have been a weeknight; most recently, it was because I had a glass full of heavy cream about to go bad, and I didn’t want to waste it. These are simple excuses, not exactly the stuff of solid alibi, I know, but what can I say? Cakes are simple and satisfying—like cookies—and they don’t take much work, and, well, mostly, I am bad at turning them down, even when fresh sheets call my name.
For this last cake, I didn’t go in with high hopes, which is key to enjoying what you make, I find. This would just be something to use the heavy cream in, and I didn’t care how it was frosted or what I would do with it or who would eat it.
To start, I mixed the batter: eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and, importantly, heavy cream. It’s the cream that gives the mixture its consistency: thick and velvety, the kind that holds its shape when you lift it from the bowl. I actually went back to the recipe a few times to make sure I hadn’t forgotten something, sure a batter this thick couldn’t be right. But after I’d spread it in the pan like frosting and baked it for half an hour, it emerged as something entirely different: a simple, fragrant, white cake that pulled away from the edges of the pan and fell easily onto a cooling rack.