michael ate the whole thing

Blackberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

When I was young, my mother and I would go blackberry picking in McDade, Texas. 
We always went to the same farm, which was owned by a very small old woman who had puffy white hair. 
We would get there in the morning, wearing old clothes and wide-brimmed hats. 
My mother always wore gloves, because she has beautiful hands, and blackberry bushes are very thorny. 
We would pick blackberries for hours. 
It was hard work. Because the thorns tore up our hands, and because there were fire ants. 
We always got stung by fire ants. 

It was fun though: my brothers and I would run between the bushes 
and eat berries until we felt sick and dig in dusty red dirt that coated our skin. 
Whenever I think back though, I  forget about the fire ants and the dirt and the thorns. 
Instead, I remember that when we drove home, after a day in McDade, 
in the trunk of the car, all of my mother's pots and pans
were filled with 

It made me feel plenty.  

It's many years later now. 
These past months have been difficult, what with school and all the uncertainty and ache that I guess comes with being 

But it doesn't matter anymore. Like the thorns and ants and dirt didn't matter. 
Summer is here now. 
And I feel plenty

And life feels like blackberries. 

Life is all blackberries. 


Blackberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake
via SmittenKitchen.com

SmittenKitchen suggested making this with a variety of berries. But I love blackberries. So there ya go. I've included her recipe for glaze, which sounds amazing, but which I was too lazy to make. 
This entire cake was eaten in under 24 hours. I kid you not. 

2 1/2 cups (355 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (340 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
3 cups (350 to 450 grams) mixed berries

2 cups (240 grams) powdered or confections’ sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, very, very soft

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup Bundt pan, either with butter or a nonstick spray.* Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk or sift 2 1/2 cups flour (leaving 2 tablespoons back), baking powder and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and impossibly fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then, with the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla, briefly. Add 1/3 flour mixture to batter, beating until just combined, followed by half the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk and remaining flour mixture. Scrape down from time to time and don’t mix any more than you need to. In the bowl where you’d mixed your dry ingredients, toss the berries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. With a silicon spatula, gently fold the berries into the cake batter. The batter will be very thick and this will seem impossible without squishing the berries a little, but just do your best and remember that squished berries do indeed make for a pretty batter.
Spread cake batter — you might find it easier to plop it in the pan in large spoonfuls, because it’s so thick — in the prepared baking pan and spread the top smooth. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the cake 180 degrees after 30 (to make sure it browns evenly). The cake is done as soon as a tester comes out clean of batter. At 10 minutes before my baking time was up, a tester was totally wet with batter and I wascertain it would never be done in the estimated time. 7 minutes later, the same tester was clean as a whistle, so fret not.
Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, before inverting the cake onto a serving platter to cool the rest of the way. Cool completely. Once cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth and very, very thick. (If you’d like it thinner, add more juice, but I like the thick drippiness of it, seen above.) Spread carefully over top of cake, letting it trickle down the sides when and where it wishes. Serve at once or keep it covered at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Cherry Slab Pie

Meeting new people is hard. 

What do you talk about?

I usually start off with fashion related preliminaries: "I love your scarf." Or "sweet shoes." 
Then I don't know what to say. Sometimes we talk weather: "Gosh it's hot." 
Sometimes we figure out who our mutual friends are: "Wow we know the same people." 

And then I panic. What to say? What to say?

Depending on how poorly things are going, I inevitably ask: "Soooooo, what's your spirit animal?" 

This is may be the only thing I learned freshman year of college. 

For the clueless, your spirit or power animal is, according to Wikipedia representative of: "a person's connection to all life, their qualities of character and their power." It's tied up in Shamanism and totems and spirituality and all kinds of other stuff. The animal represents you and can be a symbol of your personal strength or guidance. 

Or something like that. 

People were into it. I've met cats, rabbits, lambs, mountain goats, wolves, butterflies, rabbits, birds of all kinds, dolphins, deer, pandas, monkeys... you get it. 

For a while I was a hummingbird: 
I think now I'm just a wren: 

But the thing is, only about 4% of the population REALLY likes talking about their spirit animal.

I think I'm going to start asking people about their spirit dessert. Because darling, I've found mine: 

I can envision this conversation at future parties: 
Me: (At a loss for what to say next) So. Umm. What's your spirit dessert?"
Other Person: (Begins backing away slowly) What?
Me: Oh, y'know! That dessert you have this really deep connection with, one that sort of describes your personality, that's a source of power and strength for you! Mine is Cherry Slab Pie! It's like a regular pie, except that it's flat and has like, DOUBLE THE CRUST, and there's this sweet/tart cherry filling and a drizzle of icing on top! And it's just, like, HEAVEN!
I'm telling you, I AM HEAVENLY! 

I'm going to make so many new friends. 

But really beauties, this pie. It is something else. Please make it. Enjoy it. Think of me. Because when I say it's my spirit dessert, I am so not kidding. 


Cherry Slab Pie
via SmittenKitchen.com who adapted it from Martha Stewart

1 recipe Best Pie Crust (recipe below) 

6 cups cherries, pitted (I used regular cherries, however, if using sour cherries, adjust sugar accordingly)
3/4 sugar*
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water 
or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I did this to make the glaze more interesting)

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible (and tossing it in the freezer for a couple minutes if it softens too quickly; it is summer afterall) and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. 
Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan).  Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.
Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature. Or cold. It's really good cold. 

Best Pie Crust 
from BAKED by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together.
Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using.


Embarrassment and Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries

All my efforts at social suavity tend to fail. 
I'm fine if I don't work at it and if I don't think about it.
But if I do...

Oh Lord Help Me.

What else can you do but laugh? 

Embarrassment is the strangest emotion. You want to die. But you want to laugh as you crawl into the hole you've dug for yourself. 

There are two kinds of awkward people, those who keep their episodes to themselves, and people who tell everyone about said episodes because somehow they believe that this will alleviate the embarrassment. Which it never does. 
Obviously, I'm in the latter category. 

In the past several months, my brain-t0-mouth-filter has been incapacitated. No. That's wrong. 
It's like my brain has been incapacitated. 
To say this is deeply unfortunate would be putting it mildly. 

Awkward Things

1. When you invite yourself along to other people's events,  and then they get annoyed because obviously they didn't invite you for a reason, and then you feel bad because you (wrongly) thought they wouldn't mind.
2. Facebook chat.
3. When you are so surprised by what someone else has said that literally you cannot get words out. I mean, you literally forget how to talk. 
4. Vibrams 
5. Not remembering people's names when they remember yours. 
6. When you accidentally drop the f-bomb as you give a wedding toast, in front of your entire extended family.

The list goes on for a long time but I don't really want to talk about this anymore.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I firmly believe that if you offer people cookies they will generally forgive you for all of your lack of social grace. 
Unless of course, you're awkward when you try to force the cookies on them.

Believe me, it's happened. 

More than twice. 

Anyways, the point of this is to say, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT OFFERING PEOPLE CAKE . Because that's even more awkward than offering them cookies. Just, do not even think about it. Cake is messy. Cake has LAYERS. Cake can fall over. Cake has frosting. Just... don't even go there. 
Unless of course, you want to give cake to me, in which case I will be SO forgiving of your awkward flaws, because I like cake more than I like you. 

Or maybe I shouldn't say that.


Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries 

This is really fine. The cake itself is awesome, dense, light, filling, flavorful. If you're really ambitious you can make lemon curd yourself. I have done this before but it takes a lot of time. I simply used lemon curd from a jar. I am such a cheater.

For Cake
from SmittenKitchen.com

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from SmittenKitchen.com

Makes 6 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Make or Buy Your Own Lemon Curd


To Assemble Cake
Place first layer of cake on serving plate. Spread on a thick layer of lemon curd. Stack on second layer of cake. Frost the entire outside of cake with cream cheese frosting. You will perhaps have some leftover. Decorate creatively with blueberries. CONSUME. 

Raspberry Rhubarb Summer Dream Cream Pie

When I was younger, I had a mild obsession with Audrey Hepburn. 

Audrey Hepburn
And I read a biography of her. 

And I became rather depressed, because Audrey Hepburn was absolutely perfect. Absolutely perfect. 
She was a lady
She had eyebrows that I will be envious of forever. She was gracious, charming, delightful, positive, humble, generous, lovely, loving, lovable, classy, beautiful, friendly, romantic, exquisite, kind, vivacious, witty, starry, inspirational, inspired, poised, wise, spiritual, and many other adjectives with positive and/or uplifting connotations. She had fabulous taste, was a muse to untold legions, had The Longest Neck, chewed with her mouth closed, was a ballerina, never farted, and walked a billion miles a day so that she never ever gained weight ever. Did I mention her eyebrows?

Audrey Hepburn

Only Audrey Hepburn can be that many good adjectives at once. 

But you know what?
That bitch never made a Raspberry Rhubarb Summer Dream Cream Pie, or else we would have all heard about it.
If she had made this pie, we would all be worshiping at her sainted alter. 

You know who makes Raspberry Rhubarb Summer Dream Cream Pie?


And you should too. 

Show that dead starlet a thing or two. 

Oh I am being slightly morbid and very vulgar today. I do apologize. 

 It's just because I'm so envious of those eyebrows. 

Anyways, the thing is, this pie is so flamboyantly delicious it deserves a string of adjectives even longer than Audrey's. Because it is really that good. Tart and sweet and rich and not rich and comforting, toothsome, delectable, super fine, lip-smacking, melt-in-your-mouth, thrilling, marvelous, splendid, BOFFO, dreamy, peachy, ducky, colorful, crisp, soft, warm, cold, flaky, tender, delicious, deliriously good, gone-in-three-minutes, yum, fabulous, excellent, heart warming, soul warming, practically-a-spiritual-experience, summery, blissful blissful blissful goodness. 

My eyebrows will never be counted among the splendors of the world. But this pie certainly will be.


Raspberry Rhubarb Summer Dream Cream Pie

I love this so much. A new favorite. We ate the entire pie in less than a day. 

One half recipe Best Pie Crust 

5 eggs
1 scant c. sugar
4 T. melted butter
½ t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 pint raspberries

1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb, plus an additional 1/3 cup sugar

1 t. sugar
¹/8 t. cinnamon

Position an oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. On a well-floured surface, roll pie dough into a circle large enough to cover the pie plate and hang 1 inch over the sides. Fit the dough into the pie plate, crimp the crust and place it in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling.
Combine the chopped rhubarb and 1/3 cup sugar and cook over moderate heat in a medium size saucepan, just until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. 

Beat the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a mixer, or with a whisk, until completely combined and pale yellow. Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator, pour rhubarb/sugar combination  and raspberries into shell making an even layer. Pour filling over the fruit.

Combine sugar and cinnamon for topping and sprinkle over entire pie. Place pie on baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the filling has set and the crust is light brown. Allow the pie to cool. Eat.