Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's post is brought to you by the letter C

edna's cake
Originally uploaded by norvegal

So many good things start with the letter C. Cashmere, chocolate, cat (both the four-legged and two-legged kind, especially if your last name is Bordhi), Clara (of course), and CAKE.

Cake has been on my mind after I read a particularly poignant piece by Orangette. She wrote,

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about cake. This is not an unusual condition for me, but it happens particularly often when I’m feeling frazzled or tired or harried, right around the same time that I start listening to the easy listening station on the car radio and feeling genuinely soothed by it. It’s pretty clear that you need a good night’s sleep when “Peaceful Easy Feeling” comes on the stereo and you almost choke up, sitting there behind the wheel of your Honda with its missing hubcaps, singing a mournful duet with Glenn Frey as you thump-thump over the speed bumps of residential Seattle. It is also pretty clear that you need cake.

After yesterday's episode, it's pretty clear that I need cake. Not a thick gunky tower of sweetness, but something simple, pillowy, and soothing that will ground my body and make things ok again.

I pulled out my copy of Edna Lewis's The Taste of Country Cooking and turned to page 86 for the cake that had inspired Orangette to wax poetic. It's called the Busy-Day Cake, and it's an extremely simple recipe - just your usual flour, butter, milk, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and nutmeg. I swapped buttermilk for the milk, but otherwise kept to the script.

And yet there is something magic in the precise combination of those ingredients. What came out of my oven 40 minutes later was not only beautiful, it was calming and healing. Lofty and moist, not too sweet, and with a fine and perfectly crunchy layer on the outside. In the comfort food repertoire, this is the cake equivalent of homemade chicken broth. And, since I can't take Thanh up on her offer of homemade Vietnamese chicken porridge (which I do believe would make everything better again), I'll just eat cake.


rho said...

you are evil ;) So should I buy this book for the one recipe or is it jam packed full of other wonderful recipes??

Clara Parkes said...

Hey Rho! It is full of wonderful recipes AND it is full of beautiful stories about all the good food and traditions of her childhood. So I'd say buy it half for the recipes, buy it half for the stories. But do buy it. :-)

Thanh said...

Hi Clara: So glad to read that you are feeling well enough to bake. Working in the kitchen is another remedy for illness, especially when good cake is the reward. Happy Spring!