year of cake (+ the january cake)

23 Jan

For far too long, we as a society have been eating terrible cake. Dry cake. Cake with canned frosting. Cake that has no flavor. Frosting that is so sweet it rots your teeth upon contact.

And I won’t stand for it any longer! I won’t!

Thus, I have declared 2020 to be the Year of Cake. As I did with the Year of Pie in 2019, I am committing to baking a new (to me) cake every month. (Maybe more, if I’m feeling frisky.) (Probably not.) (But a girl can dream.) And like the 2019 Year of Pie, I can’t guarantee that I’ll tell you about all the cakes here, because…well, I just can’t. (However, it’s inevitable that I will post about them on the Insta, as the kids say. Or is it the ‘Gram? I have no idea what anyone says these days. I don’t even know what I’m saying right now, for the love of all that is holy. And WTF is Tik Tok?)

You’re welcome.

Not sure what for, but you’re welcome.

But wait, there’s more

I’m not just here to tell you what I’ve declared 2020 to be. I’m also here to tell you that I’VE ALREADY MADE MY JANUARY CAKE.

AND IT WAS GOOD.

Here’s how this magical moment happened: On New Year’s Day, we did our usual Salonica breakfast/Powell’s Bookstore trip, and it was while perusing Powell’s that I came across a Maida Heatter cake cookbook. I’ve been lurking in baking circles for long enough to know that Maida Heatter is Not To Be Questioned. And that her cakes Are Where It’s At. So naturally I grabbed the book and ran up to the counter, threw money at the clerk and ran out the door screaming, “IT’S MIIIIIIINE!”*

And then last week, some friends were coming over for a visit, and I thought, what better time to make a cake than when I can pawn the leftovers off on unsuspecting friends because otherwise my children will harass me to eat nothing but cake for the next 12 hours until I give in and then have to somehow explain to myself, my husband, and my God that said children are crabby and hysterical because they’re crashing from sugar so high it would make the Sears Tower weep. After a quick flip through the Maida Heatter book, I came across her recipe for orange chiffon cake with chocolate whipped cream frosting and thought to myself, “This looks delicious and mildly terrifying. I think I’ll make it for my guests.”

IMG_20200119_172006_145.jpg

Nudie-tudie cake.

The mildly terrifying experience of cake making

If you’re wondering what, exactly, makes a cake mildly terrifying, I shall tell you.

  1. It’s made in a tube pan, which comes in two parts, which in my head posed the risk of cake leaking out the bottom, and thus stinking up my kitchen with the smell of burned cake batter. (None of which happened.)
  2. It involves whipping egg whites to a stiff peak, and then whipping them a minute more because THE ENTIRE FLUFFINESS OF THIS CAKE RESTS ON HOW WELL I CAN WHIP THE DAMN EGGS. Also, you don’t want to whip them too much, lest you dry them out, which I didn’t even know was a thing but apparently it is and OMG how do you know if egg whites are too dry and this is how I end up staring fixedly at my mixer as it goes round and round and round and round in the egg whites and OMG it’s a cake, get a life, lady.
  3. It also involves hanging the pan upside down on a bottle immediately when it comes out of the oven, and you just let it…hang there…until it is completely cool. Fun fact: Every bottle in my house was too wide for me to hang the tube pan on, and I feared my cake was doomed until Swede grabbed some blocks from our toddler’s train set and we were able to prop the cake up that way.
  4. The instructions for getting the cake out of the pan read quite complicated and involve shoving a knife between the edge of the cake and the pan on both the outer rim and inner tube, and then under the bottom of the cake, which then becomes the top of the cake. It seemed the perfect storm for me to do something stupid, like somehow manage to saw a chunk out of the cake somehow, or manage to leave a wodge of cake stuck to the pan, a la most of my bundt cakes. (Miraculously, neither of these scenarios played out, and the cake came out easy peasy.)

It was just a little stressful, okay?

But in the end, it was worth it. The cake was loverly, and had a fantastic orange flavor. In truth it may have been overbaked slightly, but honestly I don’t think anyone much cared because we were all too busy falling in love with the chocolate whipped cream frosting.**

IMG_20200119_172006_144.jpg

Chocolate whipped cream frosting is where it’s at. 

Interwebers, I’m going to give it to you straight: that frosting is like the ranch dressing of desserts. I want to put it on everything. And it makes an enormous amount. So much that as you’re slathering it on the cake, you’ll inevitably think to yourself, “Surely this is too much frosting. It will without a doubt overwhelm the cake.” To which I say, “No. No it won’t. And also, when has too much frosting ever been a problem?”**

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The ideal cake-to-frosting ratio. The tiny human shoving her face in the background agrees. 

Cake, ho!

So, my friends, to sum up:

  1. I made a cake in January.
  2. It was delicious.
  3. I still don’t know what constitutes dry whipped egg whites.

I don’t plan on every cake I make this year to be a Maida Heatter cake, though I’m not opposed to it. I actually have a list of cakes I’d like to make, but if you’ve read me for any length of time you know that I adore making lists but when it comes down to actually following them I also adore throwing them out the window and going down a completely antithetical path. I guess we’ll just see what the next 11 months bring. But for now, January Cake: SUCCESS.

 

*It possibly was more civil and more restrained than that IRL.

**It possibly was just me and my 3-year-old who were falling in love. And by love I mean we were not above licking clean the bowl in which the frosting was made.

***When the frosting is shitty, that’s when. But that is not a problem in this scenario.

One Response to “year of cake (+ the january cake)”

  1. Cousin Fran January 23, 2020 at 1:56 PM #

    Sounds delicious Molly! Makes me want CAKE!

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