Saturday, November 18, 2006

Golden Pumpkin and Apricot Layer Cake

This cake first appeared in the 1994 Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue. I remember looking at it at that time, thinking it looked yummy. I may have made it at some point in the months following its appearance. But, sadly, I don’t know for sure.

A little history, a little digression…
Because the cake in question appeared in the November issue of Bon Appetit, I began trying to recall just exactly how we celebrated Thanksgiving that year. Anne was on sabbatical, and spending the year in England. My best guess is that we went over to Blue Hill, and had Thanksgiving dinner with Grandma, who loved hosting us at Parker Ridge. 1994 was the year that Ray moved from Las Vegas to Maine, to live with me. We set up house in Southwest Harbor; me, teaching at MDIHS, Ray, tinkering around, and eventually building a boat in our basement during that first winter that we lived together.

When I was envisioning my next cake, golden pumpkin and apricot layer cake was the one I was vaguely remembering and looking for.

As for the occasion: my colleague Jennie was hosting a party for our department (Instruction and Curriculum in the Content areas), part of ongoing efforts to build a little more community and develop some collegiality. This seemed like a good event for the cake I had in mind.

Not a totally easy cake. Not so much difficult, just a bit time consuming, particularly the apricot puree. You need to make it in advance, it requires some cooking, then cooling, then pureeing in the food processor. Other than that, it is a pretty typical cake: beat butter and sugar; mix dry ingredients together; mix wet ingredients together; alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to the butter sugar mess. Glop in pans and cook. Voila, cake.

Probably one of the most noteworthy pieces of this cake effort was Anjali’s response to it. Anjali is the 2+ year old daughter of my colleague Shailaja. For most of the evening, she was quite quiet, hovering near her mom and just watching the room around her. When the cake was served, Shailaja was involved in conversation somewhere else in the room, and Anjali came over and began intently watching me eat my cake. She looked so interested that I checked with Shailaja and then offered her a bite. Anjali indicated that indeed, a little bite of cake was just what she wanted, so I fed her the tiniest bite, off the end of my finger. She continued to look expectantly at me. I gave her another bite. And another, and another and another. Before I knew it, my cake was pretty much gone. The wonderful thing about this (as both the maker of the cake and more generally a mom of small children) is the fact that Anjali is considered to be a completely fussy eater, or non-eater, really. Apparently, she eats practically nothing (and is indeed very small for her age). So, imagine my delight when I found myself faced with this tiny, serious-faced child, opening her mouth again and again to be fed more and more of MY cake!


tuna said...

Does cheesecake count as cake? I don't want to get busted AGAIN. I recently made a cheesecake for a potluck meal with a 2+ child in attendance. He was SUPER good in this gang of adults but ate almost nothing until dessert when I turned to him and said (in German because he is German) "Do you like cake?" His little face lit up and he proceeded to do away with several helpings. This is a very nice lemon cheesecake by the way but even though my copy is a photocopy from a friend it is from a book so I guess I can't print it.


cake eater said...

The pumpkin cake was very yummy, I ate a few pieces of it, but this one was not my favorite. It was the prettiest, though. The cream cheese frosting overwhelmed the subtle pumpkin flavor of the cake. But I like cream cheese frosting. As for Anne wondering about cheese cake begin a real cake... why not? What else would it be? And does Anne really speak German? She continues to amaze me...