There are a few things that I cling to when I am trying to feel like a good mother. Today, both of my kids kept their braids in all day long. Looking at their neat little hairstyles made me feel like a good mother. Last week, they started swim lessons at the community center. Watching them (finally) flailing around in the pool under the educational eye of a red cross swim teacher eased my troubled mother’s heart. Because the truth is, and I can’t really say why this is the case, there are are these little things that gnaw at me (Why can’t I just get my kids into a swim class in the winter?! Why is the girls’ hair so messy all the time?). When I can ease these little ridiculous anxieties that probably stem from my loving yet hippy nontraditional upbringing, I get a real moment of peace, and I can say, Yes, I am a mommy and sometimes a good one even. Silly, I know, but I’m not alone here right?
I kind of feel this way about birthday cake. Months before the girls’ birthdays, I ask them what kind of cake they want, and then I think about it for a while. Rosie was pretty clear that for her fourth birthday she wanted strawberry shortcake. I don’t always give my kids what they want, but I’ve got a real weakness for this birthday cake thing. One of these days, they’re going to figure out that I will just about do anything to fulfill their birthday cake wishes, and the requests will start to get crazy. But until then, they go pretty easy on me.
Rosie’s birthday is in February, and let’s just say that the strawberries are not so plentiful at this time of year. Actually, they had a two for one deal going on strawberries at Big Y the morning of the party, but the problem is that when my Rose eats non-organic strawberries, she tends to puke her guts out for a good twelve hours afterward. So I pulled out the last bag of frozen strawberries that we picked from this really amazing farm, and I decided that I would make 1234 cake with whipped cream and strawberry sauce. This is a good cake. Make this cake. I hope that it brings you as much fulfillment ease of your anxieties as it brought me.
1234 Cake from most cookbooks by Alice Waters
makes 2 9- inch round cakes (can be easily halved or made into cupcakes)
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar
3 cups all purpose or cake flour, sifted, then measured
1 cup butter, softened
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping off the excess. Separate the eggs and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, cream until fluffy. Beat in the four egg yolks, one at a time and then the vanilla. Then add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir until just incorporated. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir one third of the whipped egg whites into the batter, then gently fold the rest into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
Now to make it Rosie’s strawberry shortcake:
Put 1 1/2 pounds of frozen strawberries in a medium saucepan. Add 2T cup maple syrup. Cook until hot and bubbly. Cool to room temp.
Whip 2 1/2 cups heavy cream with 1 T maple syrup and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Lay the two cakes out side by side, upside down so the flat part is facing up. Mix a little bit of the strawberry sauce with some of the whipped cream and spread on top of on of the cakes. Put the other cake on top- the flat parts should be together. Then coat the whole thing with whipped cream. After cutting into slices, put the strawberry sauce on each individual slice.
Eilen Jewell says
I’m so glad you posted this recipe, and I know for certain there’s more than a few families out there who are glad too. This is one of the yummiest things I’ve had in a long time, and I usually don’t really care for cake. Maybe I’ll make it next month as a birthday present to myself. With a less delicious cake that might seem pathetic, but it’s justified in this case.
I wish I got a birthday cake wish. if only you lived closer, you could make me one. someday i’ll come visit and pick some strawberries and hangout in the “country”
You get yourself out here Sam, and I will make you any cake your little heart desires…