A Cake for All Seasons

My older daughter got home from her first day of middle school and halted adjacent to the kitchen island. The air felt charged with accusation. “Where is our first-day-of-school cake?” she asked. Oh goodness me, where are my manners? In my haze of lying around, eating bon bons and catching up on General Hospital, I had forgotten to bake. (Incidentally, I am one of the few people still living who knows that Jon Stamos got his start on GH. I am like that 115 year old World War I veteran; it isn’t a stretch to call me a national treasure).

On the way to school on day 2, daughter the younger told me that whoever invented school was clearly anti-family. I had never heard it put just that way and her eloquence was moving. “Life used to be all about families, then someone came along and invented school and then children were pulled away from their families and that’s not fair. Whoever did it was not thinking about families!” Well, perhaps not, but they were certainly thinking about mothers…in any case, I try to make the time I have at home with her pleasant, to make up for the fact that I send her to school, which is a drag, a racket and a time-suck, however


… don’t tell me it doesn’t ease the pain if one of these is waiting for you once in a while when you wearily sling your backpack down on the floor where I have told you not to put it. My dereliction of duty was easily remedied: I baked a you-made-it-through-the-first-week cake (a week that was 3 days long but we count it as a week). I have written about this chocolate peanut butter cake and it’s delicious, brain-altering properties before. I made it with whole wheat pastry flour this time though I swear by my gluten-free version.

I remember making this for my oldest, shortly after her sister was born. It was a way of saying, “I had a baby (bad) but I will still make you cake (good).”  I have such fondness for this recipe; it has seen me through so many seasons of life. This cake may be called upon many times over the years, to see my daughters through their many landmarks of young womanhood: school achievements, piano recitals, soccer games, slumber parties, first moon parties, (despite the strict instructions I have received from daughter #1 to never, ever mention menstruation) confirmations, graduations, and possibly marriage (I have told them they should not feel pressured to get married but I have to say, if all wedding cake tasted like this, instead of like sugared kleenex, our marriage rate wouldn’t be at an all-time low! Picture it with a snowy white cream cheese frosting, festooned with edible blooms).

I have heard it said that though it goes without saying that we would give our lives for our families, it’s living with them day in and day out that is so annoying. It’s true I would jump out of an airplane for my daughters (and I have a phobia of planes, flying, jumping, height, plunging and air) but on a daily basis, they bug me. They bug me, I love them, they are mine, and I say it all with cake.




Gluttonous, Not Glutinous

I was smugly pleased with myself last week when I managed to make chocolate cake with no wheat flour.  As my daughters and I were most indelicately devouring the cake, and I was talking on the phone, with my mouth full, my friend inquired about the proportions of the flours.

“Well,” I replied through a wad of cake, “I used some coconut flour, some almond flour and some rice flour.”


“Hmph,” I replied, as my speech devolved into smacking noises.

I have got to start writing things down.  I had no idea what proportions I used and so what was I to do but make the whole thing over again?  No rest for the obsessed.


Coconut flour is a delight, but as the package warns, it sucks up liquid, so add extra liquid to your batter. In this case, that means a bit of extra coffee.  Use caffeinated if you think you might eat this for breakfast, (I am not condoning this, just acknowledging that it sometimes happens, so it’s best to advise precautions, rather than abstinence) and use decaf, as I do, if you plan to eat it whenever the heck you feel like it.

I like this with peanut butter frosting but beware.  The presence of peanut butter on top of a cake excites something deep within your brain, at least it does mine.  It triggers a portion of the brain that fat-loads in anticipation of famine. This area (the limbic system perhaps?) is also responsible for driving you to mate with the alpha male of the tribe and chase mastodon until you are good and sweaty. So tread lightly, Eaters.

Cake So Nice I Made It Twice

I made a single layer the second time because I knew I would overeat.  This recipe makes two layers.

3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar (I like to split it between brown and white sugar)
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
scant 1/2 cup rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil (preferable a mix of the two)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1  1/4 cups hot coffee (You may use hot water instead)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and oil two 8 inch cake pans.   A circle of parchment in the bottom adds another layer of insurance against your cake sticking; it’s worth it.

Combine all the dry ingredients, add the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. Mix well for until incorporated then mix an additional 20 seconds. Add the coffee.  I had to add about an extra 1/4 cup to the usual 1 cup I would use when making it with wheat flour in order to get a runny batter. This is an adaptation of an old-fashioned cake recipe and is supposed to have a liquid batter that you pour into the cake pans. So add enough coffee – or water – to make the batter easily pourable.

Bake for 20 minutes but watch it – maybe set your timer for 18 and check it because it overbakes easily.



Happy Eating,