Just delightful

Oh! Some weekends are just delightful. Particularly those that consist of ice skating, warm tubs, spiked cocoa, and cakes. Cakes especially.

The trouble is with Mondays. The Mondays that follow tend to be a bit of an upset. When such a rough start is required, the only thing to do is to bring a bit of the weekend along with you to work. Namely, the cake.

This cake is perfect work fare for a variety of reasons. It's small, and compact, and not the least bit messy, and so can be packed into your lunchbox without fear. It's also just the right size for mid-morning coffee break nibbling, or afternoon snacking. (It's okay if you have to unzip your pants after lunch. Just be sure to tuck in extra close to your desk so no neighbors can see.)

It's also hands down one of the tastiest tea cakes I've ever sampled. I found it in Bon Appétit, smoshed between herb-roasted lamb chops and garlic-smashed potatoes in a collection of family style recipes designed for getting little hands into the kitchen. The picture, I must admit, was what drew me in, but once I arrived, it was love at first site. For starters, the cakes called for lemon curd, one of my very favorite indulgences. In fact, I'd picked up a jar of it over Christmas in the big city and was mocked terribly for the purchase. And then suddenly there it was! A chance to prove its worth.

The recipe was also very simple. No exotic ingredients, no fancy pans. (The perfect heart shape is achieved using a cookie cutter, not a cake pan.) The trickiest thing required was parchment paper, and even for that you can, in a pinch, make do with buttered wax paper. The fact that I managed to clean out a jar of beach plum jelly and one of concord grape was just a bonus in an overall delightful experience. When you have literally tens of jars of different sorts of jams clogging the side door of your refrigerator, every little bit really does help.

Without further ado, I think I'll turn over the recipe to you, so that you can get started just as soon as you can. Use it wisely, and try not to bring too many to work. In the process of writing this, I've already eaten two. I think I'll chalk that up to brainfood.


adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2009

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted, warm
1 cup whole milk
beach plum jelly (or whatever you've got; raspberry, grape, and cranberry work well too!)
lemon curd
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla until very plae and thick. (About 5 minutes, according to the folks over at the magazine.) Then beat in the butter and milk, and fold in the dry ingredients. Spread the whole bowl of batter evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20-odd minutes, until the top is golden and the middle cooked through. (Try not to burn the bottom like I did.) Slide the parchment paper off the pan and cool cakes completely on a wire rack.

Using heart shaped cookie cutters (or some other shape—use your imagination if you wish), cut out as many hearts as possible from the cake. Set aside leftover cake for a trifle, or maybe cake-infused ice cream, or simply for snacking. Cut the cakes in half and spread lemon curd on one side, and beach plum jelly on the other. Layer together. Repeat with all remaining cut-outs, then sprinkle powdered sugar over top.


Anonymous said...

These look scrumptious! I think I'll make them for Valentine's Day, w/ raspberry jam. They look like they'd freeze well too, before you put the jam on them. Having a ready supply on hand in the freezer, just waiting for their dollop of jam, could be a slippery slope, however... ~A Maine Reader

Elspeth said...

A very slippery slope, I'm afraid. I fell rather far down it yesterday...


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