Hello internet! It’s been a really long time.
The last time I posted on this blog I was a senior in high school, terrified of graduating and becoming a real person. Now I’m about to enter my junior year of college (what???) and turning 20 tomorrow (double what???). Clearly a lot has changed.
But in a lot of ways, things are still the same. I am still a book nerd (officially, too–I’m an English major). I still write. I still love elephants and cookie dough ice cream and the number 13.
And, of course, I still bake.
Baking, to me, is the ultimate constant. Sometimes I feel like my life revolves around the kitchen. I structure my days around family dinners and meals with friends. Holidays are characterized by what we eat: latkes on Hanukkah, seven fishes on Christmas Eve, ham pie on Easter, matzo ball soup on Passover. My favorite evenings are spent in the kitchen with my mom, chopping zucchini in the summer and boiling pasta in the winter. We drink wine and sometimes we talk and other times we don’t. But I feel something hereditary, genetic, ancient in these moments: like we were made to share these moments in the kitchen together.
Other times, I like to bake by myself. No matter what changes occur in my life, I know that butter and flour will always feel like same way between my fingers. Cake batter will always rise in the oven. Egg yolks and cream will always thicken into custard when cooked on the stove. I like the stability. I like that no matter where I am, I can go back to that kitchen with my mom and feel at home.
I baked this cake right when I came home from college. It feels like late spring and warm June days. Ripe, bright, and bloated strawberries are turned into jam and tucked in between layers of slightly spiced vanilla cake. The cardamom adds a slightly woodsy, herbal undertone to an otherwise simple flavor profile. The warm and bright strawberry jam balances the cake. I included a little cardamom and vanilla in my jam to tie into the cake flavors and counter the tartness of the strawberry and lemon flavors. And obviously cream cheese frosting is always delicious, but even more so here, where it adds a little decadence without being cloyingly sweet or overpowering the jam and cake layers.
I used this cake recipe, and baked it in 2 6-inch cake pans. I cut each layer in half and used this strawberry jam between them (I added 1 tbs of vanilla and 2 tsp of cardamom to the jam when it was done). To frost the cake, I used the super easy and really fun petal technique (here is an awesome tutorial). Top it with some whole, juicy strawberries and enjoy with a cup of ice coffee outside in the shade.
Glad to be back on the internet. See you soon!