Friday, March 23, 2012

The joy of one pot/ birthday cake baking

Slowly slowly the house is packing into boxes --  yes, just like that, passively, all by itself.
But really, the work feels endless.  Though the cubic mountain in the garage keeps growing, the house remains full, with all sorts of tiny things -- marbles, ribbons, bits of paper, school coloring pages, squinkies, doll clothes, nerf darts, flip flops, balled socks -- relentlessly appearing under foot, no matter how much I throw away.

Fatigue is setting in.  Tonight when my sister called to wish Silas happy birthday, though we were just sitting down to plates of homemade fried chicken, a grease-stained brown paper bag our serving platter, buttery french bread, smashed potatoes (literally little boiled potatoes smashed flat with a spoon and then flipped in a frying pan and salted - genius) -- a labor of love brought over by a friend --  I could not find the energy to move my mouth to tell her about it.

Today I emptied the refrigerator and pantry of nearly everything.  I actually sent an email to some girlfriends itemizing everything in my cupboards and taking orders, and now paper bags line my kitchen wall packed for each of them.  Nothing like shopping at home.

I have one frying pan, one pot, one mixing bowl and no toaster left in circulation (turns out life without toast is less good).  Yesterday, Silas, Eden and I used the remaining flour etc. to bake Silas's birthday cake.  We beat it with a wildly powerful purple mixer borrowed from neighbors.  It was so loud and flung so many bits of butter and sugar around the kitchen that finally Silas and Eden just stood back and covered their ears.  Because my friend Kim has Ina's yellow sheet cake for her birthday every year, this is the cake we tried.  Though it is a "sheet cake," I baked ours in two loaf pans (previously borrowed from another neighbor).  Half of her recipe, which is what's written below, made almost two full loaves, which I sliced lengthwise of a tall brick-ish layer cake....  Ina suggests using her chocolate frosting, but the cake is so flavorful on its own, that I'd prefer it with whipped cream and berries, maybe even a little sprinkle of toasted coconut on top.

Ina Garten's Yellow BIrthday Cake 
(we halved the recipe, which still made nearly two full loaves -- this is the recipe halved):

9 T butter, room temp (she calls for unsalted, but I used salted)
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs at room temp
4 oz (~ 1/2 a cup) sour cream, at room temp
3/4 t vanilla
1/2 lemon, zested (I used a little less than this, and had packed my zester so used a grater -- worked enough)
1 1/2 c flour
1/6 c cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

to make:
-preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour (I only buttered) your pan
-cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, ~5min
-on med speed, add eggs, then sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest
-mix well
-sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl
-slowly add to the wet ingredients with mixer on low, stir just until smooth
-pour into pan
-bake 25-30 min if using a sheet pan (longer if your cake is thicker)
-cool in the pan to room temperature

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