Let ’em Eat Cake

September 10th, 2011

Tonight, over dinner (in a restaurant — I’m staying clear of the kitchen for a while), I totted up how much baking I’ve done this week. 196 tart shells and 225 cupcakes later, I think I’m ready for a break.


In case you’re curious, here is my cupcake receipt, from a reprinted edition of the “Everyday Cookbook” from Lord & Taylor, circa 1865. I don’t have the original text, so the following is in my own words.

California Cake

Two cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup milk
Two eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups sifted flour
Flavoring, fruit, or nuts to taste

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, milk, and flavoring. Sift flour and baking powder. Beat flour into wet ingredients in three parts, beating until smooth between each addition.

Bake at 350 until done. Makes 2 cakes or 75 mini-cupcakes.

I have no idea what makes this cake particularly Californian. It’s very good though. Moist, yet light, with a surprisingly coarse crumb. My favorite flavoring is rosewater and cinnamon. But vanilla or almond is nice too. I’ve made it into a few layer cakes (with raspberry jam in the middle) over the years, but usually stick to cupcakes. Regardless of shape, size, or historical accuracy, my favorite icing for California Cake is butter-cream. Rosewater butter-cream. Yum! Like eating a bouquet or drinking a bottle of perfume. But in a good, non-poisonous way.