Kitra: Wow, what a shitty week we had.
I mean, it’s just bad. Everything is bad, whole towns near where we grew up are destroyed, and I’ve worked approximately 70,000,000 hours this week. Also the dog is being really annoying this week, which is new. I guess I’ll link to some places you can donate at the end? Just, what a trash week y’all.
The world is literally on fire for once, not just metaphorically on fire, so. Let’s make a cake I guess.
What else can we do, really. The individual burden of climate change is nothing compared to the impact of corporations so fuck it and fire up that oven. Happy September. Cake time!
I’m going to change the topic before Kitra breaks something: It’s also Rosh Hashanah this week! It gave us an excuse to make a recipe we’ve been eyeballing for a while: the “milk and honey” cake from Simple Cake, which also gave us this lovely orange olive oil cake.
Which coincidentally we made during another really shitty week. We were bound to make cakes from the same book during above average shitty weeks because there have just! been! so! many! who can even keep track. Time is a never ending pit. Cake!
Right. So. Rosh Hashanah. For a traditional honey cake, I highly recommend Deb Perelman’s recipe; I’ll probably be making one to take to my partner’s grandmother later this week. The milk and honey cake is far more mild. The honey flavor isn’t strong, even with a more intense honey. Instead, it’s like a more interesting and nuanced alternative to a plain vanilla cake.
And I picked the frosting because there is not a single thing in Now & Again that I do not want to eat. (Which, by the way, was a book I read on January 1st, 2020 while my power was out for the entire day. I should have heeded that warning and prepared for this year.)
The frosting is the real star here, because let’s be honest, cream cheese frosting is usually the star. A spoonful of sour cream keeps it from being too sweet and the honey makes it more interesting than a standard frosting.
There is nothing I love more than making swoops in cream cheese frosting. I’d go to a paint-your-own-pottery type of store where I could pay to just make swoops on a table covered in cream cheese frosting for an hour. CCBT, Cream Cheese Behavioral Therapy. (#MillionDollarIdea?)
The swooping is quite therapeutic, it’s true.
To keep you busy while the cake is cooling, here are those links Kitra mentioned. Some are specific to the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, where we grew up, but others are statewide or send aid across the Pacific Northwest.
- Rogue Valley Relief Fund
- Fire Relief through Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity
- United Way—Several chapters have launched specific fire relief funds, including:
- Wildland Firefighter Foundation
- Red Cross Northwest Response Fund (via KGW8 in Portland)
- Keep Oregon Green
Buttermilk Honey Cake
Adapted from Simple Cake
The below instructions use an electric mixer, but the quantities are so small that you could easily do this all by hand with a whisk. Just make sure your butter is very soft before starting.
You can use either a loaf pan (8×4 or 9×5) or a 6-inch round pan here. Either way will make a charmingly small cake for about 4-6 people.
- 4 tablespoons (2oz, ½ stick) butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (50g) sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (100g) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup (85g) honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan or six-inch round cake pan; if you’re feeling cautious, you can also line the pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and beat until it’s as well-incorporated as possible; it may still look a little bit curdled, which is fine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla.
Add half of the flour to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix on low until it just comes together. Add all of the buttermilk/honey and mix again until mostly combined. Add the remaining flour and mix on low until mostly smooth, then whisk by hand until the batter is completely combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out free of batter. Cool in the pan about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
From Now & Again
This is quite an easy frosting if your cream cheese is truly at room temperature. Any colder and it will turn clumpy and you’ll have to fix it in a food processor or with an immersion blender. You have been warned.
- 3oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15g) sour cream
- 2T honey (40g)
Measure all ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk by hand until smooth.