Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake and other stories

And I believe that when I part with a man I must do it in such a way that when he sees me again he will be glad – and so will I.
~ Elbert Hubbard

It is now nearly 2.00am, and I have just put down the phone. I was chatting with one of my closest friends Jane, who’s just moved to China… I wish to goodness that we could chat face to face right now. The silly calling card caused inconvenient lapses on the phone… and of course, nothing really beats face to face conversations. She’s a friend with whom I can have six-hour dinners without running out of meaningful things to talk about… one of those people with whom mutual understanding flows easily and smoothly, like fresh milk. I miss you Jane.

I now have four days left in this city, and as a result, with my kitchen. The day before, I felt inspired and descended upon my kitchen to make a Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Creme Fraiche from Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” (Page 88), and a salad (inspired by the mandarin and watercress salad at Estadio)…

The cake wasn’t as simple to make in the end, but I am glad I made it anyway. It gave me a chance to work with two foreign ingredients: vanilla pods and buttermilk, and a chance to master the Beating of Impossibly Sticky Mixes. I highly recommend the use of some kind of electric beaters or mixers for this cake.

I was struggling with a whisk, then a manual eggbeater; by the time my cake mix looked like THIS (picture below) the only thing that kept me from tossing the damn thing out was the smell of the mix (heavenly).

The mix CLUNG to my manual eggbeater like a stubborn sticky octopus, and I ended up prying the mix off in mini clumps and beating it all with a spoon… which is… not so fun.

I was glad no one was in the kitchen with me.

I am also glad that the people who ate this cake with me probably won’t read this blog post.

Still, at least it came together in the end.

This recipe makes a gentle cake, sweet and soft like a baby’s kiss – and shines when partaken of with a good spoonful of tart creme fraiche, a drizzle of orange syrup and a few warm wedges of sticky sweet glazed oranges. Mmmmm… summery comfort.

The salad was fun to assemble: peeled mandarin wedges, baby beets (briefly boiled), fresh radish rings, crisp watercress, brazil nuts (roughly chopped), bits of dark orange-flavoured chocolate, garlic and chilli prawns. Colourful and citrusy.

Thank you Estadio for inspiring this.

And before I forget, Lams prepared the most YUMMY breakfast for us this morning: muesli with mango, kiwifruit, banana, lemon yoghurt, dessicated coconut and chopped fresh mint. Divine!! It turns muesli into a very glamorous dish indeed.

(She really should start a restaurant or some kind of eating establishment).


2 responses to “Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake and other stories

  1. Those kinds of friends are the best to have. The food looks fantastic and I am now hungry. I guess I should go make dinner!

  2. Cake looks delicious…would have never known the mix was so hard to manage! Hope the move went well…what a crazy time it must be for you!!! Auckland has turning on the sunshine these last couple of days just for you I think :)

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