The Child went off to school today, perfectly perky and feeling very spunky about her new hair style and the fact that she starts Debate Club this afternoon. Debate Club: likely the most perfect extracurricular activity for my child. Because Lord knows she has some innate skills in this department. I like to think that the rigor of critical thinking and preparing for debates will actually turn her power for good instead of evil. We'll see.
Meanwhile, I had my misgivings yesterday about letting her stay home. One can never be 100% sure that one is not being played. But the fact is, we were all wiped out. I took a 3 hour nap yesterday. (I was intending just to sack out for 30 minutes. Not so much). The Spouse was dragging when he got home from work. Hence, I felt less guilty. In fact, I didn't feel guilty at all. Plus, she spent some time on the computer with "educational" software and we learned how to convert integers into binary. That's going to come in handy.
In the afternoon she had perked up enough to announce, "I want to bake something". This is always good news. I can bake and do so on occasion. I very much enjoy consuming baked goods. But I don't love baking as much as cooking so I'm glad she got that gene.
She has mastered a recipe from a children's cookbook for what is called "Cinderella Cake". I do not like Cinderella Cake. It is nasty. It is essentially a waste of good butter and eggs. But in baking it numerous times The Child has mastered fundamental cake principles. So yesterday I gave her Pat Wells' At Home in Provence
(my favorite cookbook on the planet) and had her take a stab at Winemaker's Cake. (We still have a few pounds of grapes left on the vines). And then I took my nap.
I awoke to the heavenly scent of baking cake. The Child, meanwhile, was knee deep in mixing bowls and whisks. A light dusting of flour lay over the kitchen. But she was happily cleaning up her mess. We differ in this regard. I am a clean-as-you-go sort of chef. I don't like being surrounded by pots and messes and empty olive tins. Generally, by the time we sit down to a meal, the kitchen is as tidy as it was when I began. The Child takes after her father in her cooking approach, operating on an apparent philosophy which states that if you haven't used every mixing bowl we own then you are doing something wrong. But
so long as I don't have to clean up the mess, I have no complaints.
And the cake is delicious. "Do you think this would be good for breakfast?" she asked. Yes, yes it would.Patricia Wells' Winemaker's Grape Cake
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. whole milk
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
10 oz. small, fresh purple grapes*
confectioners sugar for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously butter and flour a nine inch springform pan, tapping out excess flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Add the butter, oil, milk and vanilla and mix until blended
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the lemon and orange zest and toss to coat the zest with flour. Spoon the mixture into the bowl of batter and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.
Stir about 3/4 of the grapes into the batter. Spoon the batter into prepared cake pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
Place pan in the center of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining grapes. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels quite firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 30 minutes more, for a total baking time of 55 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the sides of the pan. Release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the pan base. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar just before serving.*Ms. Wells is happy to use grapes with seeds in them which provide what she calls a "rustic crunch". I say, "Eeww". Our grapes are seedless so I don't have to worry about that. Seedless grapes work just fine, is my point.
Labels: good hair, recipes, yummy food