26 August 11 • MAV

Today is my first nephew’s 3rd birthday.
I love him and his brother more than anything my very best dreams could ever conjure up.

When there’s a birthday I like to make a cake. I’ll make any cake the birthday friend wants. Anything.

Miles requested a “pink cake”.

“A chocolate cake with pink frosting?” I asked. I know how much he loves chocolate.

“A lellow cake with pink frosting.” he answered.
(No I did not misspell yellow. He just says “lellow” instead of “yellow” so I figured I’d be accurate.)

Done.

A few years ago I published my yellow cake recipe in Lines & Shapes, Volume Seven (below). I really like this recipe. It’s just a simple yellow cake with more of a whole grain spin. It’s sweet and has that good buttery yellow cake taste. Miles even liked it and that is saying something! He’s the pickiest eater I’ve met.

My Cake-In-The-House Yellow Cake

2-1/3 C flour
2 t baking powder
scant 1/4 t salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 C natural cane sugar
2 t vanilla
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 C whole milk, room temperature

NOTE: For the flour I’ve used white whole wheat, spelt, all purpose and pastry in various combinations of measurements and all seem to work quite well. Today I went for 1 cup all purpose and 1-1/3 cups spelt. It was very nice.

Oven temperature = 325ºF / 170ºC

Butter, line bottom with parchment, butter again and flour a 9 x 3 inch round cake pan (or you can use two standard 9 x 1 inch round cake pans if you plan to make a frosted layer cake).

Sift flour, baking powder and salt three times and set aside. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on the highest speed for 5 minutes until very light and fluffy stopping halfway through to scrape the sides. Add vanilla, beat. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Gently and slowly beat in flour mixture and milk alternating between the two, beginning and ending with flour.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until the top is golden brown, edges of the cake pull away from the sides and a tester comes out clean. For my 9 x 3 inch cake it took about 80 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost once cooled.

For “pink frosting” I beat heavy cream, vanilla, sugar and some natural red dye I found at Whole Foods. So easy.

: : :

I call this cake “Cake-In-The-House Yellow Cake” as a tribute to my brother who likes to have a boxed yellow cake in the house on any of your average days of the week. I was shocked by this practice because to me a cake is meant only for special occasions. But I developed this recipe so I could feel good about having a yellow cake sitting around on any day of the week if I was ever so inclined. I’m just not a boxed cake person (not that there is anything wrong with it!). I think this cake works for both the every day and for the special days. It was a pleasure to make this cake today for the most special of occasions.

Miles, je t’aime.

26 August 11 • SCB

We have just one more full week before the school term begins. Summer is not over, but our summer freedom is coming to a close. Everything did not go according to plan, but we have, on reflection, made the best of these months that we could. We gave it our best shot.

We read—a lot. We spent time at the Central Library downtown every week while my daughter volunteered there. We left with more than we could carry each time. I met my goal of reading 52 books this year back in July.

We ate well most of the time, and sometimes we just ate toast. We walked and biked to our neighborhood shops and markets. We tried new things. We picked 18 pounds of berries to freeze, but as of this week, they are already gone—into smoothies and slushies and crisps, but mostly just popped straight from the freezer. We ate out in our neighborhood and in other people’s neighborhoods and at the homes of friends and family.

We were bored. We bickered. We wished for independence.

We made things. I worked with yarn. My son made countless Lego contraptions. My daughter worked on her novel and doodled and crafted. We made sun prints. We knotted friendship bracelets. We built couch forts. We brought home feathers, sticks and pebbles to pile around the house.

We explored. We were stung by stinging nettle and bitten by mosquitoes. Someone got poison oak on their bum. We foraged for salmon berries. We got wet in indoor and outdoor pools, in creeks and rivers, in lakes, in the sound and in the ocean proper. We camped out with old friends and made some new ones. We built roaring fires.  We discovered the joys of the campsite hammock.

It was a very good summer, and it’s not over yet.