A CAKE FOR JANUARY

 

In consideration of the state of the union, there is much to write on, much to mull over, much to overcome. We have no shortage of thoughts — and, in full honesty, moments of desperation and anger — and so a bit of lightness and levity feels as important as ever. To this end, may we not forget that we are the masters of our mood and gratitude is a choice. If by chance every turn you make on the internet is wrought with opinions (good or bad) on politicos, here's something different: a cake adorned with hopping marzipan bunnies. A cake for January. Dense from olive oil and buttercream, and balanced with the lightness of lemon, this is Karen Mordechai's olive oil cake from Sunday Suppers, my favorite cookbook and Mark's favorite cake to eat. I'm not much for New Year resolutions, but I did make one: eat more cake. It's the same resolution I set in 2016, except this year I added the fun + highly caloric goal of a Cake-a-Month. Because as sad as mediocre cake makes me, excellent cake makes me really happy. 

For being extremely rural, Mark and I have found ourselves in quite a few clubs: Raw Milk Buying Club at our neighbor farm, Hamity Family Book Club Special (a self-made club in which we mail, every month, a special book to our nieces + nephews; psst: highly recommended), Fish Gang (a weekly supper club with our pals), and the Book Buying Club at our local, independent bookstore. The fourth really came in handy last week, when I was eager to buy Elaine Khosrova's Butter: A Rich History but didn't have expendable income. All our paychecks spent on books finally paid off because we had credit for a free book! I am unapologetically interested in butter. My job as a milkmaid surely influences my interest in the *magic alchemy* of plants being converted into milk being converted into butter, but if I could talk to you for five minutes I might make you a believer in butter, too. It is this food that is so elemental—boring, almost—that fuels my interest in cake, also. I love olive oil (the preferred fat of our family across the ocean) as much as butter, which I suppose explains this January cake.

So, I don't have the cake recipe to share* but I do have a hot tip for how to make any baked good special: marzipan. Marzipan is ground almonds and sugar, and it originated in Eastern Europe as so many delectable things do. It acts like fondant, but tastes delicious. If you don't care to make it, it can be found in a roll tube in the baking aisle. I work food coloring into hunks of marzipan, roll them out with a rolling pin, and use my favorite cut-outs to "theme" a cake. Over our winter visit to Ohio, I found this vintage bunny cut-out and couldn't wait to use it atop a big layer cake. I never make enough frosting, which is why most of my cakes look wonky and so lightly frosted, but I always have enough marzipan on hand. I'd love to know if you decide to give this a try, or if you're already a believer in marzipan.

Happy January's end, and may you find yourself with a big slice of cake. (You probably need it!)

*Sunday Suppers is a phenomenal cookbook that you should check out from the library, or maybe join a bookstore's membership club so that you can, eventually, get it on free credit. 


—S