Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Velvet Lunch Cake-New York Times Heritage Cookbook

This cake really does seem like the sort of thing you would get for lunch in Maine (assuming you already had your pie for breakfast). Not fancy enough for supper, but perfectly acceptable for lunch, preferably eaten at the counter of a diner where you were too late for blueberry pancakes, but too early for the Swiss steak. Fine, it is never too early for Swiss steak at a diner.

The recipe did not suggest a filling. The raisins made me think of the red grapes I had, and pretty soon I was making a cooked filling. Unlike the filling I make from Concord grapes, i had to add much more sugar, and the skins did not easily come off the grapes. I didn't have the patience to attempt peeling them (hey, come on-I have a household to run here) so I chopped them up and for the most part, they softened nicely. If I did this again, I might cook them longer.

Frosting seemed like too much, it is after all, a lunch cake. Those old Mainers don't go slapping frosting around like it grows on pine trees. A dusting of powdered sugar seemed a better fit.

The cake is somewhat plain, somewhat dry, and absolutely representative of northern New England. Now, if you made this cake just above the border, the Canadians would have the sense to sprinkle the layers with booze, or a really boozy cake syrup. A Yankee wouldn't do that. A Yankee would just wave a freshly caught lobster over it (or perhaps a cod, when there were still Atlantic cod) and say, "Theah you ahh..I et youah cake." Or something like that. What I'm getting at it, you might decide that the Puritan lifestyle is a bit severe for your tastes and douse it with something to break up the dryness of a cake using only a single egg and 1/2 cup of butter. *shrug*

I'll skip posting the filling, as I think you could probably come up with something better (if you had any carrot marmalade, that would be perfect, but I think pineapple would be nice as well).

You Will Need:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon molasses (treacle is fine)
2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sour milk or buttermilk (I used milk soured with 1 tablespoon vinegar)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup quick cooking oats( I substituted this for the 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8 inch pans. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light. Add egg and molasses and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients. Add, alternating with buttermilk.

Pour into prepared pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until cakes test done. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes, then cool completely on racks before filling and topping.

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