April 3, 2015
If April Were a Cake
I wasn't thinking about cake while I was still cocooned in our down comforter watching the light gradually brighten the widows from black to a glowing blue. But when I got up on the first day of April and saw the clear skies and let the sun stream in as I pulled up the blinds, the idea crossed my mind. April seems like it will surely bring spring but spring in Maine is mostly a nice story until sometime in May. So far April has arrived with full on mud season complete with lingering piles of dirt covered snow and air that only feels warm because you are still wearing your winter coat. In a few weeks, maybe, we will get a balmy day that entices me to open windows and go outside without a jacket but for now we dwell in the hope of spring, not the reality.
Anyway, back to cake. I was thinking of the kind of every day cake that I might throw together on a sunny afternoon alone in the kitchen. Most of my afternoon time alone these days is spent sewing or writing and sometimes I miss the days when used to be able to head into the kitchen and whip something up without a second though. I enjoy being in the kitchen with Amos, too, though. It is unpredictable, usually messy with a tablespoon of chaos and lots of flour everywhere.
A quick mental inventory reminded me that we were out of oranges and chocolate and low on olive oil. I wished I had raspberries and ricotta. I considered making a buttermilk cake. Then I came across this recipe for a yeasted sugar cake. I had to make it. This is a cake that Amos certainly could have helped with, but it was nice to work quietly in the kitchen.
If April in Maine were a cake, it just might be this one. Take brown and white ingredients, nothing fresh or colorful, mix them together and then wait for them to rise. My cake batter didn't seem to turn out the way the recipe suggested but fortunately it still baked into a light, toothsome cake. Slightly chewy and pleasantly yeasty, I wished I had berries to put on top, though it was delicious all by itself. Just like spring, it will turn into a lovely treat.
Yeasted Sugar Cake
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
When I made this cake it turned into more of a batter than a dough. I will make it again soon and update the instructions if it turns out more like the recipe that I followed. I think this would be ideal with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, I can't wait until June!
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm milk
2 eggs at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
Stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar into 1/4 cup of water. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. Combine the flours, remaining sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, milk and eggs and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the butter and beat on medium high until the batter is smooth. Scrape down the sides, cover and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how warm it is.
Butter a 9-inch round pan (I always use a springform pan because it is the only 9-inch pan I have and it makes it easy to get out). Pour or gently pat the risen dough into the pan and spread it so that it fills the pan. Mix the butter and brown sugar and sprinkle it on top of the dough. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the cake for 25 minutes until the dough baked through and the sugar melted and begun to brown. Serve while still warm, although it is also very good once cooled and will keep for a few days.