Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A birthday and a cake.

Last year, I almost missed my blog's first birthday completely. This year, I've come prepared. With CAKE.



This is no ordinary cake, people. I can't really say it's my very first cake, since that would be failing to acknowledge the little berry cake that graced this blog's pages nearly a year ago, baked in a mini pie tin and dedicated to my blog twin. Since then, I made a very casual resolution to learn how to bake. There have been muffins, and more muffins, and not much else. But today, there is my second cake, for my blog's second birthday. Happy birthday, Happy Jack Eats!



With another year passed, it's impossible not to look back and reflect a bit, and I'm OK with that because we need it. I need it. To look at what I was doing a year from today, and two years from today, and everything in between and just allow the "wow" of it all to settle in. That first year was all about discovery -- finding my voice, meeting new people, opening my eyes to a world of new foods and the blogs that embrace them. The second year, there was growth.



I picked up a film camera for the first time and learned to look through a new lens, and with each new camera there came a new way of seeing things. Suddenly, it wasn't just about taking pictures of my food. There was the light, the shadows, the composition, the background, the people. And then there was more than just food. I often catch myself noticing little things, like the way the light hits the trees a certain way, or the reflection of the sky in a puddle, and stopping to appreciate it for just a moment. Like this.

their kitchen table.

I'm also learning to appreciate the art of baking. There is a quiet calmness to it that I've come to notice -- a relaxing beat that I can sometimes miss from the rush of cooking on the stove, when the mission is to get food on the table, and once the pan is hot you better get moving. There is nothing quite like the smell of baked goods in the oven, and pulling out a cake that looks and smells just like a cake should.



This is a blueberry-lemon bundt cake that I made with a bundt pan I got from my first wedding shower and baked for the guests at my second wedding shower. (Whew. Yes, we've been very busy lately because have you heard? I'm also getting married this year which means besides all the picture-taking and baking and growing, there has been a wedding to plan, which is a type of life-changing craziness all its own.) Anyway, about this cake already. I don't know about you, but I'm all about lemons in everything. This cake has a great lemony base, with bits of gooey blueberry throughout, kind of resembling a blueberry muffin but then that great, moist cake texture comes in and you realize that this is so not a muffin. It's cake, and it's good, and you should make it. Don't pretend like you haven't seen blueberries all over the place lately. They're just calling your name. I'll go right ahead and say it: If I can bake it, you can bake it.



I think the best part about birthdays, though, besides the cake and the looking back and the growth and all of that, is the looking forward. What will the next year bring? Well first, a husband. And then, naturally, cookies. (And maybe another camera. But don't tell the hubby.)

P.S. That will be the last time I use the word "hubby" in this space. Promise.



Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cake (from Martha Stewart)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for blueberries and zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
Nonstick cooking spray, for pan
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of sour cream.

In a bowl, toss blueberries and zest with remaining teaspoon flour; gently fold into batter. Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.

10 comments:

  1. Yes! So glad you're baking more - it's not nearly as scary as you thought, is it? And I feel lucky to have avoided all the wedding shower / bachelorette party stuff with my wedding, but if you're getting bundt pans maybe I should reconsider... :)

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  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, blog twin! I'm honored to share a blog birthday with you, and I find it so perfectly fitting that this day warranted your second cake. You baked a cake! I love it! And of course, the lemons make it a sure winner. Oh, lemons. Oh, birthdays. Congrats on another year and on growing as a writer, photographer and appreciator-of-all-that-is-beautiful. Glad to know you!

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  3. happy blog birthday! i have so enjoyed reading your posts and viewing your pix.

    like you, i enjoy lemons in pretty much anything, it always adds such a brightness of flavor. i'm so glad you're baking too. :)

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  4. Happy Blog Birthday! Looking forward to year 3 :)

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  5. Blueberries and lemon - a winner! Congrats on two years - happy blog birthday!

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  6. That quiet baker's calm is where I find my zen on crazy days. If you're planning a wedding, I'm sure you're going to have a handful of those to deal with, so maybe we'll see more baking yet.

    The cake looks lovely.

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  7. This recipe will come in handy when staring at the 20# of blueberries I froze this year. I think you can never have enough recipes for a favorite fruit. It will be like channeling a little of summer in the midst of a cold winter day.

    And facing down my 8th anniversary (which we have looked at each other in awe over that number... how did it pass so quickly!?) I can attest to the amazing power of marriage in one's life and hope that you and your husband find great comfort in the uniting of your lives and the wonderful road ahead. It's been equally one of the most incredible, and hardest things I have ever done, but the rewards are far and away deeper, and sweeter as time passes.

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  8. caitlin - i thought the showers would be brutal, but they were actually not so bad! the bundt pan definitely helped. :)

    shanna - yes! i baked a cake! thanks always for your encouragement and inspiration and kind words...so glad to share a blog birthday with you.

    lan - thank you! and hooray for lemons and baking!

    vicki - me too! thanks!

    su-lin - i love blueberries, and i love lemons. and i'm working on loving baking. thank you for the bday wishes!

    dana - thank you! yes, it is definitely calming. the only part i could do without is the flour and sugar that gets everywhere!

    kate - oh yes, this cake would be a great summer dessert in the dead of winter! and congrats on 8 years! i completely believe that marriage will be the hardest, and most rewarding, and most amazing journey of my life, and i'm so excited for it. kudos to you and yours, and thank you!

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  9. You already know how I feel about you and this lovely space, but birthdays are made for shouting it from the rooftops: What you do here is so special, Jacqui. Your words, your images, all of it. You inspire me to find my truest voice, and I'm grateful for that. You've got it going on here, my friend, I think much more than you know. I can't wait to see what happens next.

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  10. jess - what happens next...i have no idea, but i get goosebumps just thinking about the year to come. thanks for cheering me on, friend!

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