On Friendship, and Working With Your Hands.
I have a friend named Alisha who celebrated a birthday this past week. Alisha and I have known each other for roughly the past four years, and our friendship has grown immensely in the last two. I can’t recall exactly when or how we decided to be such good friends, but it happened and I am ever-so-glad it did. What started off as a friendly acquaintance evolved into a support system for school, relationships, and delicious home-cooked meals when I have needed them the most. I am extremely blessed to have a kindred spirit who shares my passions about Jesus, medicine, food and music.
As a symbol of the birthday celebration, I baked this cake. Its a blackberry bundt cake with an orange glaze* that just feels like summer to me. Of course, living in south Mississippi it seems like the summer always feels you, but for the sake of friendship and summer berries, this cake is perfect.
I have a tiny kitchen, and being a college student my kitchen resources are limited at best. The original recipe calls for luxury appliances like mixers, which I do not have. However, I do have two fully-functioning hands, and I believe that people were making cakes years before there were mixers, and successfully. I’ll walk you through it, if the world of non-gadgetry is new to you.
I basically follow the original recipe, and you can find it here. I do make some changes though based on what I had in my kitchen (which is code for “this is what I had on hand, its too expensive to go buy what the recipe actually calls for”. Ahh, student life). The changes I made did not affect the integrity of the cake, and it turned out to be quite delicious and was a hit among friends.
2 2/3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 pound (or 2 sticks) butter, softened, plus a little for the pan
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole organic milk
2 to 2 1/2 cups blackberries, depending on the size**
about 1/2 cup juice squeezed from a couple of oranges
1/2 cup (or so) powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar by another name)
Turn the oven on 350. Apply butter to your bundt pan, the spray some nonstick spray. Now get it out of your way.
Get a medium-ish (not huge, but bigger than what you put your cereal in) bowl out and put in the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk it together and get it out of your way. Now, get a large bowl out. Cut your butter into small pieces and add the sugar. Attack sugar and butter with a fork (I find a fork works well for me as an attacking tool) until it is totally combined and creamy. Leave no large lumps of butter. Your hands/arms may be sore, but you’ll need to burn some calories to be able to eat this cake. Then, add 1 egg, attack till combined, then repeat that again 3 more times. Add vanilla. Now is the time to grab a tool that looks like this and add half of the flour, mix it in throughly, scraping the sides of the bowl and everything. Add your milk in a similar fashion, after its mixed add the rest of the flour. Now fold in your berries.
Now its time to pour into your bundt pan. Put your cake in the oven and bake for about an hour (45 minutes for my oven) and test with a toothpick or knife (insert tool=it comes out clean=cake is ready).
Let your cake hang out on a rack for about ten minutes, then invert cake onto plate/platter. After you construct your glaze and decorate your cake with it, it is lovely with coffee or milk, and nice cake-appreciating friends.
*This glaze. I have some issues with this “glaze” in the original recipe. For me, a glaze is a thick, sweet, creamy coating of sugary goodness. As it dries/sets it sort of hardens, encasing whatever your pouring it on in a cocoon of sucrose. Not so here. The initial instructions called for 1/2 cup orange juice + 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, simmered over low heat till the sugar dissolved. What I ended up with was more akin to really sweet orange juice, and not the glaze I had envisioned. I still used about half of it though, using a knife I made little holes and poured the orange liquid into various points along the cake, then used a tablespoon or less along with more powered sugar to make an icing of sorts that I dripped over the cake. The result was still good, and the hint of orange was there, which was what I was trying for.
This resulted in all of the blackberries sinking to the bottom (or, well, when you turn the cake over, its really the top) during baking in what I assume was a rapid fashion. My blackberries were also slightly frozen, so that may have played a part as well. None of this affected the taste, it actually made the cake a little more interesting and gave it ‘levels’. One level was part berry-goodness, another part sweet cake.
All in all, this cake is simple to make, no major appliances other than an oven are needed, and its a crowd pleaser. Especially for celebrating birthdays!