Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cheerful Cake is Better than Humble Pie

I had a really unusual weekend. My sweetie honey let me leave him with 2 of our 3 kids for a couple of nights while I enjoyed my sister down in Stumptown. After a four hour train ride with my 5 month old baby (it went pretty darn well!), my sister and her 2 month old baby picked me up at the Portland station. Our first stop was New Season's supermarket (the Portland general equivalent of PCC) where she loaded up a sack of apples, refilled the maple syrup jar, and managed to buy about $50 worth of olive oil. Then onto her great new house--a self-proclaimed Recycled Residence built by her husband's real estate team.

That night we enjoyed fantastic Roasted Chicken (it's a family favorite, now) and potatoes with some hefty salads prepared by her friend. We talked until our eyelids drooped which was rather early considering we both have infants plus other children besides! The next morning we enjoyed our Gabriel brand poppyseed bagels covered in a good amount of sweet butter. It took awhile to get everyone ready for the day. In fact, by the time we were all ready, it was naptime for her cutie pie toddler.

Finally, we made it out the door to explore the great variety of Mississippi Street shops. There are a few districts in Portland that don't have any chain stores or restaurants--they are actually forbidden by law on one of the streets. That makes for some truly unique shopping. She took me straight to Pistils Nursery. Wow--this nursery has some great plants! I purchased an air plant--a tiny succulent that sits atop some turmeric colored glass stones inside of a clear glass bubble. Lots of gift ideas in that shop!

That night I suggested some Korean Bul Go Gi for dinner. My sis makes a great version of this that I had last time I was down. I tried to replicate it once, but I needed to see it done again. Hopefully I can step up to this dish soon. With the babies down for the night, we snuck out to a late night dessert bar (the name escapes me). Fallen chocolate cake (or I think they called it Chocolate Truffle Cake) is usually a sure bet. This one was so yummy and rich that I, yes me, could not finish my portion. Imagine that! It certainly required the cup of coffee we ordered to accompany it.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the next day. It is always so sad to say goodbye to my sister. Living a few hours away frankly bites big time. I've spent the last few days feeling what amounts to a little grief.

So, I baked. I've been wanting to try the "Nicky's Vanilla Cake" recipe in Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl for some time. This seemed like the perfect moment. A simple, moist, and dense cake--it didn't even need any frosting. Actually, it reminded me of a great coffee cake. After eating a couple of pieces in one day, my husband suggested I take it with me to the women's group at our church on Tuesday. Good idea--I managed to whittle it down to just a couple of pieces by the time it was over (and, yes, I saw one certain pastor slyly slip in for a piece before I left--you know who you are!).

All in all, my mini vacation was great, but parting is sad. Until Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll just have to make do with this yummy cake.

Nicky's Vanilla Cake

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 TB vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each.

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, blending well. Add sour cream, blending well. Then mix in the vanilla.

Pour batter into cake pan and bake 40-45 minutes until golden. Let cake cool on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto the wire rack. Leave until cool.


Jessie said...

This cake sounds delicious! I think it would go so well with some ice cream or whipped cream even! I have to put this on my "To Bake" list :)

Jodie said...

We loved having you in, we did a lot of good eating!! The cafe with the cake was Pix patisserie

This cake sounds delicious.

Can't wait until Thanksgiving.

Gretchen said...

Sounds like fun! I'm missing you and the PNW this week.
The cake sounds good-I think I'll make it as a surprise for Max after school today-he's had a hard week. Cake is just the thing.

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