Well, friends. We survived our first blizzard…and our second blizzard, and a birthday…all in ONE WEEK! On Monday morning, I woke up to bright blue skies and warm rays of morning sun. I sipped my coffee and admired the morning’s beauty from the passenger’s seat as Awesome Boss and I traveled North to Orono, Maine. On the way home, we took I-95 back to Portland and there was a post-apocalyptic-esque scene unfolding while dozens of linemen, driving cherry-pickers, traveled down the interstate into a loud of gray rising from the south. Darkness was eminent.
By the end of the workday, there were warnings up and down New England and businesses, schools, and towns had already closed the following day. Meteorologists were predicting hurricane force winds and 2 feet of snow to fall on the Portland area.
On my way home, I got a text from Chris that asked, “Did we pack our camping stove?” Oy. What’s more terrifying than the thought of being without electricity in the dead of winter is going through the unpacked moving boxes we have stacked in the basement, many of which bare the label “Misc” or “Knick Knacks” because I thought said description would be helpful when it came time for us to unpack. If only I wrote “Camping Stove” on one of those boxes, hunting would have been a lot easier. Oy.
That night, Chris and I met at a big box store on the way home to pick up everything we needed in the event of a long-term power outage. Our survival kit included:
- Antibacterial hand wipes
- Clorox Wipes
- Water (jugs and bottled drinking water)
- Batteries for flash lights
- Propane for our generator
- Gas for the mystery-whereabout camping stove
- Peanut Butter
So this is a quick aside–if you’re ever threatened with bad weather, buy a couple large pizzas the day before the storm. I don’t have to tell you that cold pizza is awesome for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s one of my favorites. It can be fairly nutritious (far better for you than ramen or shells and cheese) and you don’t have to keep it refrigerated. Plus, plus, and plus.
So, with trashcans full of water, our supplies laid out on the kitchen table, and our generator plugged in and ready to go, we hunkered down for the storm with our wine, beer, pizza, Pringles, and peanut butter.
Tuesday came and the wind howled. The sky was dumping as much as 3 inches of snow an hour while I watched a Property Brothers marathon in my PJs, inside our cozy house, with Izzy sitting on my feet. It was a very comfortable snow day, with electricity and all.
Around 2:00, I figured we were in the clear as far as the electricity went, so I decided to bake a cake. It wasn’t just any cake. It was Chris’s BIRTHDAY cake! Of course, it had to be his favorite: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I consulted my old cookbooks and found a recipe with all the ingredients I had on hand and 40 minutes later, a birthday cake was born.
I always hold my breath when I’m dealing with old recipes because sometimes, the finished product comes out less than ideal. Really and truly, this recipe was no different. The cake, though it was perfect in terms of sweetness (I don’t like cloying anything) was dense and dry. Maybe it’s because we’re used to the boxed cake that has lord-knows-what in it to keep it perfectly moist and spongy. Which, if the shitty ingredients contribute to the “ideal” texture, I will take the dense, crumbly cake any day.
If I tried it again, I would add more milk to the batter and cook it a shorter period of time (reflected in the recipe below). It was edible, but it just wasn’t as perfect as you always hope birthday cakes to be, especially for those people you love the most and who deserve a good cake every once in a while. But, hey, there are better ways than cake to show people you love them and that they deserve the best the world has to offer. In this case, it was snuggling up on the couch with Izzy, watching the snow fall, and spending the day together….eating cold pizza.
- 2 cups sifted cake flour
- 2½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners sugar, divided
- 5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp vanilla
- dash of salt
- 3 Tbsp. milk
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix and sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream butter until soft and smooth, and gradually add sugar, creaming until fluffy.
- Add vanilla and beat in well-beaten egg yolks. Add flour, alternately with milk, beating until smooth after each addition. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. This takes about 7 minutes, depending on which device you use. I used a hand mixer.
- Fold in thoroughly the stiffly beaten egg whites to the sugar/butter/ flour mixture.
- Turn into two greased round pans and bake: in a square pan for 40 minutes, in two round pans for 25 minutes, in cupcake pan for 25 minutes.
- For the frosting: Cream butter with an electric mixer. Gradually add 1 cup of powdered sugar. Once well incorporated, as cocoa powder and the the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. Then, mix in vanilla, salt, and just enough milk until frosting reaches the desired consistency.
- Let cake cool completely before frosting. Once frosted, garnish with herbs, berries, and flowers.