LET THEM EAT CAKE
I don’t lay claim to queen-like qualities, even if I do believe that I was Madame de Pompadour in a former life (long story and yes I know she was not a Queen, only a mistress… but what power!), but I often say “Let them eat cake”. Nothing in the fridge? Eat cake! Nothing for dinner? Eat cake! Whether the best of times or the worst of times, there is always cake in this house. My shopping carts are always filled to bursting with bags of flour, boxes of sugar, sachets of yeast and baking powder. Bottles of vanilla extract and maple syrup line my pantry shelves next to the colored sprinkles and cocoa powder. Plastic containers carefully stacked are packed with bars of baking chocolate and dark brown sugar, nuts and chocolate chips. Dozens of eggs and sticks of butter take up too much room in my refrigerator. But food? Food, as in lunch and dinner, food? Sometimes but not always. Off with ye to the market if ye be hungry…
Well, maybe I do harbor princess-like tendencies. I crave luxury and want to be pampered. Bubble baths and flutes of champagne, boxes of chocolates and help in the house, someone else to walk the dog and wash the dishes. The blending, stirring of cake batter is true luxury, so silky and smooth. I want my home filled with the scent of cinnamon and chocolate, the warmth of a hot oven. I love the sensuality of kneading soft, sweet dough and rolling it out, shaping it and filling it with mounds of caramelized fruit or showers of cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips. Spreading frosting is a guilty little pleasure, sometimes the reason behind the making of the cake, swirling and swagging sensuously.
The mood strikes and I wander the house, tapping on bedroom doors, blocking the tv screen with my body, and announce my desire to bake a cake. What flavor shall it be? Husband asks “Isn’t there already enough to eat?” Older son shrugs his shoulders and, if pressed, turns on me and claims abuse “You bake too much. We can’t and don’t want to eat everything you bake!” or else he rolls his eyes and says “Why do you even ask? Just bake it and you know I’ll eat it!” Younger son chastises me for even considering making anything other than the 3 cakes he knows and loves. And if I press, maybe suggesting a new recipe or hite layers instead of chocolate, he’ll turn on me and say “well, how about if I just say that I won’t eat it at all! Okay? I won’t eat any of it! So you make what you’ll eat!” Princess or not, those around me do not give me the adulation I deserve.
But some of my wonderful food blogger friends have! (Oh, just joking!). I have made a dense, fudgy chocolate cake with our favorite chocolate buttercream frosting and I would love to share this cake with at least two of you who have recently honored me (and my queenly service to the world of food bloggers – see the royal wave?) with awards.
Rebecca of Chow and Chatter has presented me with the Meme Award. I have recently gotten to know Rebecca and not only does she have great recipes on her blog – so many exotic recipes, foreign cuisines, all so easy to prepare (and healthy to boot) – and a beautiful daughter, but she is such a wonderful, lovely person and I now consider her a great friend. I am honored that she presented me with this award.
The requirement for this award is to list 7 things about your personality and then pass the award on to 7 other bloggers. Funny thing is, when I read Rebecca’s list about her personality, I was struck by how much alike we are! No wonder we get along so well! So here goes:
1. I am a great friend and the one people turn to for a shoulder, an ear, advice or a kind word. I go out of my way for my friends. My husband once told me that maybe my role in life was “to be lovely for others”. Friends and family are the most important thing to me.
2. I get itchy every few years to move. I crave new places and new situations, discovering new cultures. I fall into place quickly and adapt. And I need to keep moving.
3. I procrastinate. I put things off until I can’t anymore, whether mailing out gifts, making a doctor’s appointment, anything and everything. Keeping a blog has helped me in this respect. I’ve learned a little bit how to get things done on time.
4. I worry. About everything.
5. I am funny in my own odd way. As serious as I often am when need be, I love to joke and tease – you may have noticed that on comments I’ve left on blogs – and love to laugh and hope others laugh with me and don’t misread my odd, dry sense of humor. I also deal with hurt and sadness with humor; that is a family trait.
6. I am overly sensitive, taking too many things personally. When husband wants to tease me or force me to look at things a bit clearer, he says “Oh, I’m sure so-and-so hates you!” On the flip side, I am too naïve and trusting, always believing the best in people even when they are blatantly bad, I still try and believe.
7. I am friendly and love nothing more than breaking down barriers, false societal codes, etc. I love to talk with people and have the knack of getting people to let down their hair, open up and start talking about what they have locked up inside, or making them laugh and become friendly and familiar even when it isn’t their way.
I would now like to pass on this award to some great friends and fabulous food bloggers:
Nanette aka Ms Gourmet of Gourmet Worrier
Rachael of La Fuji Mama
Barbara of Barbara Bakes
Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey?
Mary of One Perfect Bite
Deb of Italian Food Forever
Renee of Flamingo Musings
Sophie of Sophie’s Foodiefiles awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. I love Sophie’s blog. She, too, has wonderful, creative food and recipes on her blog that you must check out. She does have One Lovely Blog and I am thrilled that she thought to pass this award on to me.
I would like to give the One Lovely Blog Award to two food bloggers – and friends – who both indeed have very lovely blogs: incredible recipes and stunning photography. So worth a trip to visit their blogs.
Deeba of Passionate about Baking
Mowie of Mowielicious
This is truly the icing on the food blogging cake!
So back to the grind, back to trying to convince my men that one more slice of cake is good for them, better than bread, or when I proclaim that dense, dark and chocolate will soothe the soul, lift the spirits, and keep away the maddening crowd. I know that sometimes they want off with my head when they are clamoring for a meal and all I offer is a slice of something sweet, my loyal subjects no longer quite so loyal when they find me aproned, sweeps of flour kissing my cheek, licking dabs of chocolate from my dainty fingers. They do not smile when I inform them that with a little patience they can indeed have their cake and eat it, too.
I have two favorite chocolate cake recipes, one light and airy, smooth and silky, the other dense and incredibly moist, decadent to the point of sinful. I decided to turn to my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and try a Devil’s Food Cake. It came out wonderfully dense and chewy, a delightful change to my others. As you can see, the baking was uneven, the results of an oven much too small, so I had to continually flip and switch the cakes around. Next time I will bake one layer at a time to avoid this. But even if it looks uneven it came out delicious. Eating this cake I tasted no difference. It was wonderful.
I frosted the cake with a double quantity of our favorite easy chocolate buttercream.
DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE
Makes a double-layer 9” cake or triple layer 8” cake or a 9 x 13” sheet cake
12 Tbs (1 ½ sticks, 175 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1 ¾ cups (350 g) sugar
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups (240 g) flour
¾ cup (65 g) cocoa powder
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups (375 ml) milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and line the baking pans.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter, the sugar, salt, baking soda and the vanilla until fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa making sure no lumps remain, sifting if need be.
Beat in the eggs to the butter mixture, one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly blend 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, then half the milk and so on until all the dry ingredients and the milk have been beaten in., scraping the sides as needed.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth.
Bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes (a bit longer for the sheet pan, a bit shorter for the 8” pans) until set in the center and the sides of the cake just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.