Here is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now: it seems for the most part that the home cooking world is divided into two camps. You see it when you’re a guest in someone’s home, you see it on cooking shows and books and blogs, you see it in yourself if you think […]
I’ve always liked pumpkin. I like the way it tastes. I like the way it looks. Mostly, I like the season it comes in, fall. The world just looks better this time of year, you know? The colors, the weather, the way you can see your breath in the morning but take your sweater off […]
It’s been a hot summer. H-O-T hot. It’s been hot here in Chicago, on sweaty bike rides and walks; hot in Raleigh, North Carolina, by the pool and at farmers markets; hot in Ohio; hot in Nashville; hot in St. Louis; hot everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve sweated through clothes and on furniture, felt skin stick […]
I’m not going to ask where the time went. That’s what everyone says, halfway through summer, after the fireworks and before back-to-school, when we’re finally settled into the heat and humidity, when our arms are bronzed and our long-daylight days have begun to seem commonplace, when we’re looking at the calendar and saying, July 20? […]
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” (Annie Dillard) I read the above quote a few years ago, back when I was compiling a 25th anniversary scrapbook for my parents in which people wrote and told of gifts and memories and experiences they’d had with my mom and my […]
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.