Yesterday was my son’s birthday. He would have turned 21 yesterday, but he died when he was 10. It wasn’t one of my better days, no matter how I tried to kick start my mood, and my mind often drifted off to the days we’d shared and the things we’d done. Maybe no more than usual, but it was still pretty intense.
To bake a cake yesterday, it would have just…felt wrong. Somehow as though I was clinging to him in an unhealthy way. But…today, it felt like a good day to make a cake.
There’s something about cooking and grief. We carry food to bereaved friends and relatives. Sometimes we make cakes and desserts, sometimes its casseroles and salads. It’s always something that’s easy to eat though, for the grieving families seem to have little energy for the act of eating a meal.
Today, though, I’m trying to celebrate life and love, and that’s when cake always reigns as the queen. Wedding cakes, with their dense textures and elegant tiers are always a celebration of life. Birthdays, a mark of the progression of another year, is another occasion for which cake is the standard bearer. Today was a day for cake.
Now obviously, I would be a bit off if I embarked upon making a wedding cake. What would I do with all of that cake? I’m also no cake decorator! But the familiar buttery vanilla flavor, along with dense texture, sounded just right for those berries languishing in my refrigerator, waiting to be cut up, sprinkled with a bit of sugar to bring out their juices…and then ensconced upon a sturdy bed of dense vanilla cake. I needed an itty bitty version of that wedding cake!
There’s one advantage to being an avid cook and recipe collector. I have just the recipe for that! It’s also a favorite of mine, dependably producing a wedding cake like texture while being simple to make and small enough for us! While the recipe calls for a 9×9″ pan, I normally bake it in a “brownie” or “biscuit” pan which works great.
This recipe is not expensive to make, doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, and mixes easily–if you remember to beat it thoroughly! I think it’s just as easy to make as a boxed mix, and the flavor screams “I cared enough to make it for you from scratch.” If we have leftover bits that get stale…I don’t even feel guilty using them for “dog cookies” because it contains just basic ingredients. This recipe is just one of those recipes that I turn to over and over, and KNOW I can count on it to deliver a fantastic dense cake, not quite pound cake, not quite fluffy cake, but something delicious.
So, make someone special smile, with this recipe from my kitchen to yours. Top it with fresh berries, a scoop of ice cream or even just plain with tea or coffee (our favorite way, it seems.) I never bother frosting it–it stands well on its own. Enjoy!
Basic White Cake (Wedding Cake type)
- 1 c.white sugar
- 1/2 c. butter, softened
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 c. milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat these until very fluffy, and do NOT skimp on the beating! Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then stir in the vanilla. Sift flour and baking powder together, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.