One Month Later

One Month Later

Today is the last day of my one-month sabbatical. 

I knew going into it that the very first week would be dedicated to KonMari and spring cleaning, to a fresh start. It was an exhausting, rewarding week which I ended prepared to dive right into three weeks of research and working more on the Victorian Cakes project, as well as daily blog writing and baking and photographing. I was not going to waste this amazing opportunity (this gift!). I would be so, so productive and I was going to figure. it. all. out.

And I sure thought I would get a long-form post done on my cake interpretation of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson:

Two layers of black chocolate cake with blood-red filling and sky blue frosting. Adorned with a "profuse" amount of flower sprinkles, chocolate stones, a hand-made 3-legged stool, and an aged black box containing tiny slips of paper. Before the icing was applied, I slipped one large piece of paper onto which was placed a single smeared dot into the cake; a surprise for one taster.

Two layers of black chocolate cake with blood-red filling and sky blue frosting. Adorned with a "profuse" amount of flower sprinkles, chocolate stones, a hand-made 3-legged stool, and an aged black box containing tiny slips of paper. Before the icing was applied, I slipped one large piece of paper onto which was placed a single smeared dot into the cake; a surprise for one taster.

Or post the recipe for the Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Snacking Cake I baked:

See the end of the post for recipe

See the end of the post for recipe

Or even manage to post a CakeBook Monday selection every Monday. 

What really happened, at least during the majority of the second and third weeks, is that I slept (a lot), watched tv ("not too much"), tried to adopt a smoothie habit (sort of worked), read books (heaven), and baked as much as I could. I thought and made lists. I tinkered on this website and paced my apartment and did some research and generally tried to avoid beating myself up for not doing what I told myself I would (produce). 

Because on Tuesday, I go back to working my day job (missed you guys!) and trying to do everything else, including be a mom and a wife and a reasonably clean person, after the kid has gone to bed, on weekends, or at the crack of dawn. And so I woke up today, the last day, with that same feeling I felt all throughout college when a paper I'd neglected for weeks was due: a heavy weight and a pressure to meet the deadline. 

But I now know what I didn't then, that I work well under pressure and like a tight deadline. And the only one making these deadlines in me. So, Jess, lay off.

Permission granted, weight lifted, I was finally able to get something done. In a sudden burst, I decided to re-name my website and all of my social media handles to reflect what I have been calling what I do for some time now: The Cake Historian. So there's that.

I'll also say that CakeBook Monday is moving to Instagram. I'm good at doing that everyday, but try as I might, I am not a regular blogger. That said, I am aiming to post a longer piece here once a week that will focus on the reason for Cakewalk as stated in the subtitle: exploring stories, history, and identity through cake. Oh, and with a recipe. Recipes are good. 

Speaking of, I suppose it's not too late to give you one now...

Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Snacking Cake

This is a quick and easy cake that can be mixed entirely by hand. If you've never baked with mayo before, don't let that turn you off—it's just egg and oil! Thanks eternal to Jessie Sheehan for the tip to freeze the mix-ins as well as for the recipe for Chocolate Chip Snack Cake that this is based off of. 

Preheat oven to 350°
Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with butter or spray. Parchment the bottom.

1 c (126 g) frozen mixed berries
2 T flour (any kind)

2 cups (240 g) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 T (18 g) baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 c (112 g) mayonnaise
1/4 c (56 g) neutral oil 
1/2 c (100 g) sugar
3/4 c (165 g) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 c (240 g) sour cream

Chop up the frozen berries into small pieces. In a small bowl, toss the pieces with the flour to coat, then put the bowl in the freezer until you have mixed the batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the mayonnaise and oil with both sugars, followed by the eggs. Once they are fully incorporated, whisk in the extract and the sour cream. 

Using a rubber spatula and a light hand, gently fold the frozen mixed berries into the batter; spread into the pan.

Bake for 30-35 min until a cake test comes back clean. 

Cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Serve dusted with confectioners sugar if desired. 

The Cake Breaker

The Cake Breaker

CakeBook Monday (on Tuesday): IMPORTANT ARTIFACTS by Leanne Shapton

CakeBook Monday (on Tuesday): IMPORTANT ARTIFACTS by Leanne Shapton