Berries and Cream Cake

Berries and Cream Cake 14

Fair warning: Ode to friendship ahead. Things are about to get mushy. Maybe even teary. There’s no sayin’. You have been warned.

Bombs away.

This little cake here was born last week, to celebrate the birthday of one very special person. 25 years of shared summer adventures, cups of tea, hikes into unsuspectedly nudist corners of the countryside, vicious games of Clue and Hotel, fried eggs, French fries, mosquitoes, sunburns, swimming pools, and cheese (in no particular order).

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my first memory is all of 20 years old, of wee Annie on her bike with little side wheels and a helmet, all curls and freckles. The nineties were a glorious riot of adventures, imagination, sleepovers and berry picking.

The latter was probably among the best things summer had to offer. After two months of running endlessly wild and free in the forest and continuously soaking up sun and water and laughter in the pool, September brought a bounty of blackberries, tumbling into our purple-stained little hands like so many little jewels.

It was utterly pure, unconfined bliss.

Those golden days shaped a friendship that has withstood the harshest tests of time. The blackberry brambles have dwindled, the unexplored paths in the woods left for the next generation of adventurers to discover – but to me, we remain unchanged. Eternally eight years old, conquering the world together. Some things never fade. Some memories are forever young. An inspiration, then and now, an unerring, unfaltering source of courage and solace.

There are no words. Years upon years of endless conversation, deep into the night, and now there are no words that will suffice.

Let’s leave it at thank you.

To summer, and friendship. They’re all your really need in life.

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Berries & Cream Cake

Servings: well, I could eat it alone, but let’s say 8

Prep time: 25 minutes, plus overnight cooling

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup berry preserves
  • 2 1/2 cup blackberries, when in season, or raspberries or blueberries, when not
  • 230 gr, or 8oz, Neufchâtel cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • slices of pound cake, enough to cover the base of your cake pan twice over

Berries & Cream Cake 1

Combine the 1/3 cup of water, honey and lemon zest in a small sauce pan. Heat while stirring to dissolve honey, then set aside to cool. Add lemon juice.

Berries and Cream Cake 7

Combine the 1/4 cup of water, preserves and berries in another sauce pan. Cook over medium low heat until it begins to thicken. Set aside to cool.

Berries and Cream Cake 10

Beat the cheese and sugar together.

Berries & Cream Cake 2

Berries and Cream Cake 3-side

Beat the cream until until stiff peak form, the gently fold into the cheese mixture.

Berries and Cream Cake 8

Cover the bottom of your cake pan with a single layer of pound cake, cutting up piece where necessary. Sprinkle half the lemon-honey mixture onto the cake. Top with half the berry mixture, then cover with half the cream mixture. Repeat.

Berries and Cream Cake 9-side

Refrigerate over night (cover with plastic wrap to avoid cracks… I didn’t 😦 ).

Top with fresh berries to serve.

Enjoy 🙂

Berries and Cream Cake 13

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Carrot Cake, or the alternative cure for the common cold

Carrot Cake 8

I hate taking pills. I never do. If I have, say, the most excruciating headache, I’ll reluctantly choke down half an aspirin, which, considering I’m a (mostly) fully fledged adult, obviously has no effect whatsoever, thus confirming my totally-not-based-in-reality belief that they’re no good anyway. Of course, there is a reason behind this. There is a reason behind most everything I do. I’m sure there must be. In this case, it’s because I’m hardly ever sick. No, seriously. I haven’t had a fever in over 10 years. I heal faster then Wolverine, for crying out loud. The discrepancy in the wound-to-scar ratio on me is proof of that. It’s also lucky, or I’d look like a combined map of the subway systems of every single subway-owning city.

Back to taking meds. The point is, when I do take something, it takes my body completely by surprise, which therefore knocks me out into a sleep so deep, it leaves Sleeping Beauty cowering in a corner yelling “No way!”

The last time I took something more serious than a pink, strawberry-flavored children’s aspirin, it took partial asphyxiation due to a ludicrously clogged up nose, a headache like I had an amateur marching band stomping over my brain on rhinos, playing the heavy-metal version of “Oh my darling Clementine”, and a hell of a lot of coaxing from the boyfriend. And by coaxing, I mean bribing me with promises of rivers of honey and milk, and possibly the map to El Dorado.

I was asleep before I knew what hit me, and woke, quite suddenly, a good 10 hours later, with a random craving: Carrot Cake. Or, more specifically, the cream cheese frosting that goes with it. But I couldn’t just make the frosting, because what would people say, so I went ahead and made the whole cake.

And ate it. No, not the whole cake. That’s ridiculous. I would never do that. I couldn’t possibly.

OK, yes, the whole cake.

Carrot Cake 11

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings: 6 to 8

Prep time: roughly 2 hours, baking and cooling times included

You will need:

For the cake:

  • 500gr carrots
  • 2 1/2 cups (600gr) flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups (350gr) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120gr) brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) vegetable oil

Carrot Cake

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups (350gr) cream cheese (I used light)
  • 3/4 cups (70gr) butter, softened (I also used light)
  • 4 teaspoons sour cream (if you can’t get your hands on sour cream where you live, combine 3 teaspoons regular cream with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 cup (250gr) confectioners’ sugar

Carrot Cake 9

Start by peeling and grating your carrots. This will take a lot of arm muscle, so be prepared to have some seriously sore muscles the next day. Think of it as a pre-cake-eating-frenzy-workout. That works for me. Every time.

Carrot Cake 2

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. In a separate bowl, combine the sugars, eggs and vegetable oil. Now add the wet mixture into the dry, then stir in the shredded carrtos. Or join my club, forget the eggs, and have fun blending them in at the end.

Carrot Cake 3

At this point, the batter will distinctly resemble puke. But plough on, brave baker, all is as it should be.

Carrot Cake 4

Pour the batter into a greased and floured cake pan. Carefull tap the pan on your counter to release air bubbles.

Bake on medium-low heat for aprox. 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, get to work on the frosting.

Combine the cream cheese with the butter and sour cream until smooth. Slowly sift in the confectioners’ sugar and mix well. Ideally, it should be all nice and smooth. Mine was, well, not.

Carrot Cake 12-horz

When the cake has cooled, slice it in half lengthwise so you are left with two discs. Spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on the bottom-part disc and top with the second disc. Spread the rest of the forsting all over the cake. Make it as pretty as you like. I was in a hurry, as I had hungry relatives wailing pitifully from the table, so I chose the rustic path.

Carrot Cake 7

Grab a spoon and scratch out all the left over forsting. Lick off. Repeat.

Serve the cake at room temperature, or store in the fridge if you made it ahead.

Carrot Cake 10

Cut up, dish up, and enjoy!