Birthday cake, round two: weekend edition. To drag my birthday week out and end it on a high note, my friends and I had a great meal at Oddfellows on Saturday night. I highly recommend that place for any gathering — the service was great and the food and drinks were delicious!
Hello, party people!
I used to go there just for casual lunches and snacks when I still lived in that neighborhood, and it doesn’t hurt that Oddfellows is next to my favorite bookstore in the city, either. Work up an appetite browsing and purchasing new lovely things to read, then pop over next door for a meal — that’s the ideal weekend activity, if you ask me.
But I’m still of the mindset that anything calling itself a birthday celebration is incomplete without cake, so I made something I’ve been meaning to make for a long time: an intensely chocolate cake.
My birthday is today and true to form, I’ve made my own birthday cake. Or rather, I made one to “celebrate all the April birthdays in my office” but who are we kidding, I made this cake for me.
My birthday cake for the last few years has been varying iterations of a fruit and custard cake because it is the best kind of cake in existence and if you disagree you are wrong, but that’s a post for another time. This post is about a different kind of cake, because this is a different kind of birthday. This year, I’m turning 30.
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?
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).
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.
BLUEBERRIES BLUEBERRIES BLUEBERRIES. The best berries (second only to the blackberry) and whenever they’re in season, I stock up with pints and pints of it. The best way to enjoy blueberries is to shovel them into your mouth, without shame or decorum. But another excellent vehicle for blueberry delivery, if you need to eat in a manner that is more socially acceptable, is the blueberry galette.
Golden, crispy crust and sweet, warm blueberries oozing out here and there — what’s not to like? Better yet, if you’ve got as much of a delicate hand as a herd of cattle, fret not because galettes are supposed to look messy and wild. It’s rustic.
The downstairs apartment is apparently undergoing renovation, so as I write this, my floors and walls are shuddering from all the banging, thumping, and mysterious mechanical sounds that make me think maybe a Transformer is trying to build boat with its fists in good ol’ #203. Good grief.
Anyway, that has nothing to do with cornbread. I don’t even have a clever segue planned. Speaking of boats… No. Nothing of the sort.
But cornbread! You’d think having grown up in Texas that I’d wax poetic about how Southern cornbread is unbeatable and that these Northerners just don’t get it right, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But you’d be wrong. I grew up eating a lot of the stuff when I lived in Houston, and I loved it then as much as I love it now. But up until recently, the best cornbread I have ever had was from a barbecue joint in Seattle. I mean, the actual barbecue was… not exciting. But the cornbread! Holy shit!
And now that experience has been dethroned by the little slices of cornbread heaven I had in… Vancouver, Canada. I know. But I had another Texan with me and we both agreed that this was the best cornbread, A+ cornbread, 5 stars, 10 thumbs up. So obviously, this is now a true fact: delicious cornbread can be found anywhere. Even in your own home!