One For The Mothers…
Although this year marks the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson having established Mother’s Day as a national holiday to honor mothers, it appears that the tradition of mocking one’s mother-in-law dates back to ancient Roman times, as poet Juvenal proclaimed, “A man will never be happy while his mother-in-law lives.”
As to my own mother-in-law, I have her to thank for raising a remarkable son who not only knows his way around the kitchen but is also someone who emulates her generosity which, for me, often translates into really thoughtful and fun kitchen-related presents – from them both!
Among my favorites is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my mother-in-law gave me years ago. While there are perhaps many daughters-in-laws who would have taken offense thinking it was an affront to the quality of their cooking, to me it was a terrific gift because it was something that I would not have necessarily purchased for myself. The fact that the book is in terrible condition serves as a testimony of how frequently it has been used.
The Hot Milk Sponge Cake recipe contained within has been a staple for our Mother’s Day dinners as well as countless backyard barbecues. Not only is it delicious but you can make it in a very short amount of time with very basic ingredients and then slightly alter it to create countless variations. While the original version did not require extract, I’m a big vanilla extract fan and I added it to the mix. I have also found that almond, orange and lemon have all been excellent options.
Our favorite way to eat this cake is with heated preserves drizzled over it and I’ve alternated between raspberry, apricot, strawberry and blueberry ones. Even plain this cake is both flavorful and light and sometimes I’ve simply dusted it with confectioner’s sugar.
My 9-year-old daughter made it the other night and I’m hoping that means I can have a reprieve from baking it this Mother’s Day.
As for your own family celebrations, in the event that you find yourself channeling Juvenal while in the company of a problematic mother-in-law this Mother’s Day – or any other holiday come to think of it – just remember that at least you’ll have some terrific cake to look forward to at the end of the meal.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or almond, or lemon. You get the idea.
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 cup of preserves or 1 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar.
1. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan aside. Stir together flour and baking powder; set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add extract and then the dry mixture; beat on low to medium speed just until combined.
3. In a small saucepan heat and stir milk and butter until butter melts; add to batter, beating until combined and all lumps are gone.
4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Keep in mind that if you have a convection oven your bake time will be considerably faster so adjust accordingly. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack.
5. Put preserves into a microwave safe bowl and cook on high in 22 second increments until the preserves become liquid
6. Pour liquefied preserves over cooled cake.
7. Slice into squares and enjoy!
Felicia Fisher is the founder of the Black Buggy Baking Company and lives in Oley, Pa. with her husband and three children who are all willing taste-testers.
For more information on what Felicia’s baking up visit her web page www.blackbuggybakingcompany.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.