Jordan: It feels weird to write a blog post about cake right now.
Kitra: I don’t remember much about this cake, or why we made it. It was good, but not important in any scheme of things, honestly.
We made this cake a week and a half ago but were both too tired/bleh to actually write up, so we were going to wait a day or two until we had less malaise going on. BOY WAS THAT A MISTAKE.
Things that are more important than this cake: *gestures wildly at everything*
That was going to be a list but honestly, that covers a lot of it. Which is not to say that this cake is bad! It’s actually quite a good cake! But I don’t think there are any cakes that are as important as… *gestures wildly at everything*
We’ve talked before about baking during a major cultural “JESUS FUCK ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN THAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE EVEN IF THEY AREN’T A KAVANAUGH” moment.
But that felt different in a lot of ways. Looking back at that post, it was actually… very funny? But that doesn’t feel appropriate here. And I think that’s because as two very very white* women, this isn’t our moment to laugh-cry about. This is our moment to shut up and listen and do what we can to help, not our moment to write swear words on cake and avoid the news by taking Buzzfeed quizzes.
* 2% milk white, to be specific. At least that’s what the quizzes said last time.
We’re going to give you this cake recipe, because this is a cake blog and (in the wise words of Deb Perelman) no one’s mind ever got changed by the headnotes of a sheet cake. But look, babynames dot freaking com is in on this. If we can contribute to making awareness of racial justice even 1% harder to ignore, we want to do that. So we’re also going to give you this very incomplete list of things that (particularly if you are a white person) you can and should look into before, after, and while baking said cake:
- Does your state have cash bail? Donate to a bail fund. (DC doesn’t, but here are other ways to help, and most activists recommend legal defense funds as a good alternative.)
- Have conversations with the people in your life who consider themselves to be progressive but also don’t think that they’re privileged because their lives are hard too. (Here’s a good starter essay.)
- Bookmark this and come back to it regularly: 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.
- Advocate at your workplace for better policies and communication around race and diversity.
- Take a hard look at how much of your media—including your recipes—comes from people of color, and work on improving that.
- Learn about the racist history of policing in America and what “defund the police” actually means.
- Get involved in your local politics. How does your city government work? DC has hyperlocal representatives that you can get in touch with. (Jordan hopped on her local ANC Zoom call last week! It was super helpful!)
- Donate to mutual aid funds, which provide direct support to your neighbors. If you live in a city, you can probably google “(city) mutual aid” and come up with a list or a Facebook group or something; here’s DC’s.
- Think about the things that you love, and who gets to make and participate in them. If that’s food, great! Start there.
- If you are also a white lady and want to elevate and support voices that aren’t your own, listen to this advice and sub your job in for “cookbooks.”
- If the thing you love is theater (like Kitra), check out weseeyouwat.com and also find some new favorite artists.
- Listen to the people of color around you! And then actually use what you hear. That’s where we always seem to get stuck, as individuals and as a society. We say “ah yes, that’s a really good point” and then go back to doing things exactly the same way we used to. That has to stop.
That’s just what we pulled off the top of our heads/browser histories, but there is so much more. These are specific to our location and interests and news outlets; if you do your own research, you might find things that resonate more with you.
You’re going to need some fuel to do all that reading, and something to stress eat, and if I can make a recommendation: Cake.
Orange Olive Oil Cake
Adapted slightly from Simple Cake
This is just a nice cake. It’s moist and light and perfect either glazed or plain, any time of day. The original recipe made two layers; we scaled it down for something more basic, but you could certainly do a layer cake. If you double it, use 3 whole eggs instead of 2 eggs and 2 whites.
You can easily substitute another variety of citrus for the orange in this; lemon is recommended in the book, and we think grapefruit would be good too. Jordan had no problem substituting gluten-free flour here.
Finally, ⅜ cup of oil is annoying to measure. Use a liquid measuring cup or ½ cup measure, add the 2 tablespoons of orange juice, and then add olive oil until you reach the ½ cup mark.
- 1 cup (125g) flour
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg and 1 egg white, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup (130g) sugar
- ½ tablespoon orange zest, from about half an orange
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- ⅜ cup (6 tablespoons) olive oil
- Powdered sugar, orange juice, and olive oil (optional, for glaze)
Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan or an 8-inch square pan, and ideally line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. (Jordan did not do this and was fine, but she also served her cake in the pan so YMMV.)
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the sugar and zest to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl, if using a handheld mixer). Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers, or turn the mixer on low and stir until the sugar is yellow and the zest is well-distributed. Add the egg and egg white and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the milk, buttermilk, orange juice, and olive oil. Scrape everything together with a spatula and then beat on low until combined and lightly frothy, like an Orange Julius.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and back 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of batter. (It will be a bit damp from the oil, which is fine.) Cool fully before glazing and serving.
To make the glaze, put about 1 tablespoon of orange juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl. (You can use the same one you used for the dry ingredients!) Add a couple of spoonfuls of powdered sugar at a time, whisking in each addition thoroughly. Add more orange juice, olive oil, or sugar until you reach your preferred taste and consistency. You’ll want something a little thinner if you’re pouring the glaze over the entire cake and something a little thicker if you plan on just drizzling it.