Of course you have! Well you see, riding home from kindergarten on the bus, a boy called me Marycake (the name on my birth certificate is Mary Kate but more about that later). I was indignant because, you see, I did not then perceive my destiny. Flash forward 30 years and my friend Britt’s son Eliot takes to calling me “Mocakes” (he was two at the time and it sounded incredibly adorable when he said it). Then my friend Meg’s son Teddy and my friend Marnie’s son Jasper called me Marycake and well…by then I was baking cakes with abandon and it occurred to me that perhaps Marycake is what my mom meant to name me in her drug-addled, post-partum haze. She gave me a first name (Mary) that rhymes with my last name (Perry) so who knows what other narcotic-influenced missteps she made?
So Marycake I am. Martin Luther said “Beer is made by men, wine by God.” I feel that people make cookies, but God makes cake. I won’t scoff at a well-crafted cookie (because I will be too busy eating it), but I hold cake in higher regard. I have a sister-in-law who makes cookies of such uniform size and textural/flavorful perfection that I dare not tread there. Cakes, I believe, are my calling.
For some time, I have been adept at making cakes for a couple wheatless friends. But complete gluten-shunning adds an additional layer of restriction. I enjoy using almond meal and white spelt in baking but true gluten-free-ers (Free the Gluten!) do not eat spelt. However, please know that when it comes to getting from a cakeless to a cakefull state there are very few obstacles I take seriously.
Not everything can be made without gluten and it is important to know when to say “uncle.” But Joe has swooped down and changed my life for the better, as he is wont to do. Trader Joe, that is. He currently carries a gluten-free all purpose flour made primarily of brown rice with some tapioca and potato starch to make it all cohere. If you are sensitive to rice, well, I can’t help you. Perhaps you are just tired of life.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of making a cake for my friend Karen, a lovely person who is committed to wholesome foods for her family but lucky for me, is not adverse to a bit of sugar. “Karen’s Cake” is a new twist on an old standard recipe my mother and I have relied on for years, The Best Two Egg Cake from The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook my mom received at her wedding in 1962 (the one with five ring binding). We have enjoyed endless permutations working from the same outline. This cake is a far cry from the original which used shortening, much more sugar and no coconut of course. I often make it with whole wheat pastry flour and almond meal. But as I like to point out, no matter how I change it, I always use two eggs.
I served it with winter fruits for color and tart contrast. It was ever-so-good.
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups GFAP flour and 1/2 cup almond meal
About 1/2 a cup of unsweetened, desiccated coconut (Bob’s Red Mill is widely available)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together until thoroughly smooth (as long as 12 minutes on medium high mixer speed says the original recipe). Add vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Sift flour with baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Bake in 8×8 or 9 inch round pan. It is difficult to say how long it will take; I began checking mine at 25 minutes. I found that it doesn’t take but a moment to go from underdone to bone dry so better to pull it out too soon, I say.