My kind of girl cake

I made this cake.

I call it “girl cake” because only the female half of the family liked it. The male half turned up their noses and pushed their plates away. (Not really—Mr. Handsome finished his piece like a real man before thumbing his nose in the cake’s general direction.)

I wasn’t too surprised that they didn’t like the cake. “It’s kind of complex,” I admitted. (Please note: it’s highly unusual for me to sympathize with family members over their food hang-ups.)

“And nutty,” Mr. Handsome added.

“Like women, huh,” I said with a snicker. (Please note: I do not condone sexist comments. That said, I occasionally make them.)

I started feeling a little doubtful about the cake after watching the boys turn up their snozzes. Was the cake really any good, or was I just enchanted with it because it involved unique prep methods? Were my tastebuds going all haywire on me?

But then I served it to my sister-in-law and she claimed to like it. I fed it to one of my girlfriends—she smacked her lips appreciatively and then tucked away a second piece. That settled it. This cake was clearly a girl thing.

You know how some cakes, like some girls, are all glitz and glamour? These are the easy cakes: easy on the eye with their thick, glossy swirls of frosting and easy on the tongue with their copious amounts of butter, chocolate, and sugar. These babes are fun to hang with—they know how to whoop it up good—and nearly everyone falls for them at one point or another; but, after courting them, the ones indulging begin to feel a little empty and maybe even slightly ill, off-kilter from too much sweet and too little substance. When they eventually crash and burn, the fallout can be pretty ugly and the rebound even worse.

This cake is like another type of girl all together, one that is at first glance modest and maybe even a little homely, but when gently encouraged, she reveals her true nature—complex, nuanced, and … deep. She doesn’t have gaggles of friends, but the few she does have (oh, the luckies!) will remain her friends for life. This cake is like that type of girl, my kind of girl, sweet, wholesome, and exciting in an understated sort of way.

So maybe the analogy is a little over-the-top, yes? Even illogical? Riddled with weak sentence structure? Ah, well. Seeing as I’m a little over-the-top about this cake, I guess it’s only fitting. I’m not even going to apologize.

Instead, I’ll offer you a challenge: take this girl cake for a little spin and see if you don’t end up falling in love with her yourself. I have a hunch you might.

Molly’s Marmalade Cake

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s blog

The only change I made was to use half whole wheat flour and, in retrospect, I think all of the white flour could be subbed out for whole wheat. And then, except for the sugar, this could be counted as a nutritious cake, what with the fruit, nuts, and olive oil.

I pulled this cake out of the oven a little too soon. I thought it was burning and got worried. I needn’t have—the edges were just fine—and it sank a little, but even so, it was still delicious and didn’t taste underdone at all. Which leads me to believe that it doesn’t require a full sixty minutes in the oven, but a bit more than the forty-five minutes I gave it. Fifty to fifty-five minutes should be perfect.

1 orange
1 lemon
6 ounces raw almonds
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven at 300 degrees for about twenty minutes, stirring them every three minutes or so until they are dark golden brown. After the nuts have cooled a bit, put them into a food processor and pulse until they are the texture of sand. Dump them into a bowl and set aside.

Put the lemon and orange in a kettle and cover with water (they will float, but never mind that). Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat a bit, top the pan with a lid, and simmer the fruit for thirty minutes. Drain the fruit and cool.

Cut the lemon in half, remove the pulp, and cut off the tough stem ends. Put the lemon rind into the (still-dirty) food processor bowl. Cut the orange in half, remove any seeds, chop each half into several more pieces, and dump the bits of orange in with the lemon rind. Pulse till the fruit is thoroughly chopped up. The resulting mixture will be partly pebbly and partly pasty. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth. Set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them for a couple minutes with a handheld mixer till they are frothy. Beat in the sugar and then add the flours, salt, and baking powder. Add the olive oil, nuts, and fruit puree and beat briefly.

Pour the batter into a greased nine- or ten-inch springform pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes (see above note). Cool completely. Sprinkle liberally with confectioner’s sugar immediately before serving. (The cake improves with age, so make it a day or two ahead of when you plan to serve it.)

About one year ago: Caramel Popcorn. I’ve made this two times in the past couple weeks. We’ve taken to calling it crack. One day I even made Mr. Handsome hide it from me before he left for work.


  • You Can Call Me Jane

    I love the way you talk about food, the associations to life you make. This cake looks good, but seeing as I can't have any, I'm happy to settle (and it's not settling) for your story:-).

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