Baking a cake is something that happens rarely in our home. I love to bake but generally it is cookies or brownies or other sweets that appear on my plate. It is not that I don’t like cake. I love cake but usually two people have a hard time finishing off an entire cake. Cookies can be frozen and well, it’s just easier to pick up a cookie and eat it on the run. Can’t do that with cake. And maybe that’s why cake is so special.
Cake is meant to be enjoyed while sitting at table. Cake is meant to be served on a plate with a fork and a napkin. Cake is special. Cake means conversation and a break in the day. It is good with tea or coffee or milk. It is good for beginning friendships and for renewing them. It is good to begin your day or to end it. Cake is pure pleasure.
There are many different kinds of cakes. Special cakes are for special occasions. They are pretty and covered with sinful frosting and sometimes delicate flowers. There are ultra rich cakes where “only a sliver” truly applies. There are bundt cakes that are fun for bridge club or for picnics or for the school bake sale. There are loaf cakes and pound cakes where only the freshest berries should be served along side. Without a doubt there are cupcakes, but today is not that kind of day.
Today is about old fashioned cakes. Cakes that are good just for the cake and not what’s on top. Cakes that are easy to make and always turn out. Old fashioned cakes like our grandmas used to make. (Well, I’m not sure about my grandmas.) But I did get this recipe from an old Wisconsin cookbook. It was a leap of faith cake. One that I wasn’t sure was written right. It called for putting the cake in an ungreased baking pan. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. But I did. And just like new friendships waiting to be discovered this cake rose with splendor and gave the signal to dive right in.
The smell of this cake was enough to drive the rabbit catcher up from the basement. It is enticing and filled the air with the scent of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice. The caramel glaze is simple to make and tempting enough to burn your tongue on. I think it would be superlative on ice cream and though it just sinks into the cake, its flavor is not lost. The moisture and stickiness that it gives makes this cake sinful. And this is a cake that lasts. Its flavor gets better with age as the spices permeate the interior. I don’t think I’ve ever made a moister cake and that is another reason this cake will keep. If there is such a thing as keeping cakes…
Yesterday I made a new friend. The day before I made a new cake. Both are good things…
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze
2 c all purpose unbleached flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 T nutmeg freshly grated (I used 3/4 t or leave out)
1 T allspice
1 c vegetable oil
1 c packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1 c buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk-1 t vinegar mixed into 1 c of milk also works. Let it sit a few minutes to thicken.)
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped prunes that have been soaked. (I think other dried fruits such as raisins or currants, cranberries or cherries would taste good also. I soaked in hot water and Patron coffee liquor) Let soak while making cake and then drain well.)
1 c toasted walnuts or pecans or leave out
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop prunes and cover with soaking mixture. Set aside.
Combine dry ingredients together. In large bowl of mixer combine sugars and oil. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Blend well. Add prunes and nuts and mix well.
Now take a leap of faith. Pour batter into an ungreased 9 inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Bake for about 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.
15 minutes before cake is done, prepare glaze.
1 c sugar
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c butter
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla
In a 3 quart saucepan cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute.
When cake is taken out of oven after tester comes out clean, poke holes all over cake. Pour glaze over warm cake. Let cake sit until cool, about two hours. Run knife around inside and outside edges of cake. Turn over onto plate and remove bottom.
Prepare for a new adventure.