Annnnd we’re back to cakes. Did you really think I’d stay away for very long? Of course you didn’t, because you know how I am by now.
A friend was celebrating her birthday, and all celebrations of surviving another year /slash/ shaking your fist at mortality should involve a cake of some sort. So I set out to make one for her, and remembered that a few months ago, she had told me in passing that she loved chocolate cake with vanilla icing.
…or was it vanilla cake with chocolate icing?
This is hardly a recipe, but I do love a good sardine sandwich. Sardines?!, you say, barely able to disguise the look of utter revulsion on your face. The oily fish that comes in a tin, complete with spines???
Yes, sardines! I respond. And don’t you dare say a single thing against tinned fish, you mook! Then we breakdance battle, and after I completely wreck you with my triple-headspin-windmill combo and you weep a little, I’ll invite you over for a sardine sandwich so that you will truly understand just how wrong you were to ever doubt the majesty of the humble tinned fish.
Wait, what’s all this then?? Didn’t I just say one post ago that one of my resolutions was to be healthier? And now there is a goddamn cake recipe here?!
You caught me. I did say that. But then I also decided that healthier doesn’t have to necessarily mean “devoid of cake” because quite simply, a good cake makes me happy. And what’s the point of being “healthy” if I’m just bummed out all the time from the distinct lack of cake in my life? I don’t want to get hit by a bus and have my dying thought be “goddamnit I should’ve eaten that cake, why did I endure six weeks of endless grain bowls.”
So to kick off a year of being healthier and happier, here is a cake. It is not a healthy cake because there is no such thing. A good cake will contain butter and sugar and flour (or some kind of flour alternative at the very least), so might as well just let it be what it is. But if you’re going to treat yourself, why not go big, like with a fun cake studded with Fruity Pebbles “funfetti.” This thing can be part of your very unbalanced complete breakfast once in a while.
An old coworker gave me Tessa Huff’s beautiful book Layered for Christmas, and so this is a riff on the strawberry confetti cake inside. Something I didn’t do for this particular cake (but that I included in my recipe below) is steeping some Fruity Pebbles in the milk before baking with it. I imagine that’d only bump up the cereal flavor by a delicious percent (whatever percentage that might be).
Happy 2017, everyone! Welcome to a new year, a symbolic time that promises many things but that in reality probably won’t differ much from December 31st of this past weekend, aside from the fact that we’ll all be scratching out the inevitable “2016”s on our rent checks to hastily scrawl in “2017” instead. Turning an accidental 6 into a deliberate 7 will be messy, but by god we’ll do it.
But despite the unceasing and apathetic forward march of time, let’s all embrace the wise words of Bill and Ted and be excellent to ourselves and to each other. Imagine me embracing you in a hug right now— and imagine it being very awkward for added realism, if you will.
No, I don’t mean baking hobbits. I mean a bake inspired by the merry little Halflings. If you know me at all (or in the very least, follow my silly little posts on Instagram), you know that I read Lord of the Rings every year. And every time I read it, I’m tickled anew by Samwise Gamgee’s fixation on procuring a good ale and some hearty fare. I mean, he even whips up some lean rabbit stew out in the middle of a field after growing weary of their monotonous diet of lembas bread. A hobbit after my own heart, that Sam.
So I got to thinking, what would Sam make if he did have the provisions? Probably something a lot like this dish: assorted vegetables and sausage tossed with fresh and dried herbs, a bit of butter, and all roasted until golden brown and fragrant. And seeing as how Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday is later this week (September 22nd!), it seemed as good a time as any to make it.
I don’t fry things very often because for whatever reason I am completely inept at it. But once in a while, I’ll come across a recipe for something fried that sounds so appealing that I’ll shove aside my fry-aversion and just go for it. These zucchini patties — zucchini fritters, really — called for me to do just that.
These are like potato latkes, but made with zucchini and onion instead. How could I resist? Potato latkes? Delicious. Zucchini? Also delicious. This is an obvious win.
Are you ready for a long, rambling tangent? I have made far more cakes than I have posted here. It’s because cakes take me all day to put together; I typically bake and assemble when I get home from work (so it’s 90% done before I go to bed), and then do the last bit of work on it the next morning before I head into the office.
All of this leaves no time for meticulous staging and photographing, which involves clearing my usually cluttered dining table (which doubles as my desk), messing with the blinds and some bent white cardboard, and standing on stools or chairs, or stools on chairs. But I don’t have time for any of that when it comes to weekday cakes. That’s why most of the cakes you see on this site are poorly photographed, all done in a rush and usually with my iPhone tilted at some bizarre angle. In fact, sometimes I have to actually make a cake twice for two separate occasions to get one decent set of photos out of it. #FoodBloggerProblems, right?
All of this is to say that yes, the photos of this mint chocolate cake are bad. The composition is weird and so is the coloring, but that’s what happens when I’m trying to snap pictures in 3 minutes on a dreary Seattle morning. But trust me, it’s worth making.
Halloween is coming!
Okay, it’s still a month away, but it’ll sneak up on you. Like Christmas always does, but way spookier and with much tackier decorations. Speaking of, have you ever really thought about what you’re buying when you buy Halloween decorations? You’re spending money on things to make your house look like actual garbage: cobwebs in a bag, bloody rags, maybe some rubber severed limbs. It’s pretty bizarre, all things considered, to have a holiday where you actively try to make your yard look like you’re some kind of mass murderer with a poor sense of body disposal.
That said, I do love Halloween. What better excuse to put together an amazing costume that represents who you truly are inside? Perhaps Batman, or Beetlejuice, or a sexy Spongebob Squarepants.
But even as an adult, the thing I love most about Halloween is the candy. Or rather, all the candy that goes on massive clearance the day after Halloween, muahahahahahaaha. And the king of all candy? KIT KATS.
I don’t remember much about my college dining hall, except that there was a salad station where I often got chunks of cheddar cheese… and little to no actual salad things, come to think of it. Hmmm.
Also, there were always stacks and stacks of Rice Krispie treats, but more importantly, stacks and stacks of marshmallow treats made out of many other kinds of cereals. Golden Grahams, Cocoa Krispies, Captain Crunch, and my personal favorite, Froot Loops. Genius.
I mean, look at how cheery these are. How can you not smile when you see them?
This may just be the most warmly received cake I have ever made (hopefully just “so far” and not “ever” because what a bummer it’d be if I have already peaked).
Here’s your obligatory description: summer blueberries suspended in a rich cake, with silky lemon filling sandwiched in between, and the entire thing is smothered in a light whipped cream frosting. Who wouldn’t like that? People you can’t trust, that’s who.