The Kitchen Alchemist: Birthday Cake

Feb. 19, Feast of St. Gabinus, relative of the emperor Diocletian and father of St. Susana, who supported his daughter's refusal to marry a Pagan and retain her vow of virginity.  She was beheaded, and St. Gabinus starved to death in prison.

"In which I try to make healthful, affordable, easy meals:
in other words, throwing together ingredients in hopes of creating gold."

I made this cake for Afon's birthday (the day of, not the party), and googled recipes literally five minutes before pulling the ingredients together from the depths of my parents' pantry.  I picked this one for easiness and ingredients.  But the majority of my family members are squeamish about whole milk (why?), so when I came to that part, I improvised a little.  In addition to the watery, flavorless skim milk, I added two spoonfuls of sour cream hoping to thicken it up a little.  Oh, yeah.  It thickened it all right.

After the cake came out of the oven (not burnt!!), I googled icing recipes, and narrowed down the results by which ones called for shortening.  I'd always wanted to use the innocent and unused vegetable Crisco minding its own business at the back of the spice drawer.  I actually loved this icing.  I'm not that into buttercream, but this had an almost floury taste to it which I loved.  And it was easy to whip up, easy to apply.

When Afon saw me preparing the cake, he took a full two seconds to register what was happening, turned sharply on his heel, went to the cutlery drawer, and came back with a spoon, ready to dig in.  I was able to hold him off with a compromise: he licked the icing and batter spoons, and I kept the cake intact for later.

Three out of five liked my dense, doughy cake; one of them being Afon, who gives two thumbs up to anything with sugar.  My mom and I liked it (also sugar fans).  But my father and sister thought it tasted weird.  Do with that what you will.

Time  //  A

Ease //  A

Presentation  //  A+

Affordability  //  A-

Health  //  D

Taste  //  B




  1. Was it meant to be so flat?

    1. I didn't have an intention one way or the other, to be honest.

    2. I thought perhaps you'd forgotten the baking powder, I've done that lots of times. It sort of looks like blancmange. That would be a neat idea for a birthday cake alternative

    3. No, I used the right amount of baking powder--what it was called for--but Aunt Rachel said that sour cream is the last thing you want to add to a recipe if you want it to stay light and fluffy and not dense. Oops!

  2. Love the report card. I'm all for whole milk. :o)

    1. I suspect it's better for us than the tampered-with skim milk, but I'm not an expert. :p

  3. Way to go, Mom! Your cooking methods sound a lot like mine!!

    I found your blog a few days ago... somehow. I've been enjoying reading through. Your photography is lovely. Happy Birthday to your precious Afon!!


Leave me a comment! Don't be shy!