celebration.

Oh HI! It’s been a few blinks. Life piles on, and it doesn’t always leave room for chronicling it online, or more importantly, in my mind’s memory bank. For better or worse, significant moments seem to be marked by the food surrounding them. As I think of past meals, I am better able to recall what has transpired, and as these autumn days grow shorter, their tastes linger for a brief moment, helping me to digest the subtler things of life.

For instance, this summer I ate:
– wild blueberries and corn on the cob while camping with my love in the Canadian Shield
– homemade pickled ginger, inspired by our travels to Japan earlier this year
– crustless cucumber sandwiches at a memorial service
– piles and piles of strawberries, picked by yours truly

The strawberries have been a lush, juicy, rosy emblem of this past season – and while the peak glory was fleeting, their cheery spirit has carried on. I have eaten them in almost every way I can think of: fresh, of course, on their own or tumbled into morning granola; blitzed into a freezer jam to spread on toast; frozen red stones melded with ice cream for a milkshake, and sandwiched into a simple white cake with whipped cream.

It is difficult to decide which is my favourite way to pump more strawberries into my body, but I would say that thus far the cake method has been the most enjoyable way to share my strawberry hoard with others. When there are celebrations to be had, nothing quite marks the occasion like cake. Whether it’s a birthday, an engagement, or everyday gratitude – a lofty, gorgeous cake is the way I like to say I like you. Getting to share the bounty has been a sweet delight amidst a summer of beautiful surprises, unexpected deaths, and a slew of memories to chew on when I end up bedded down for winter in a few months.

I have made the following recipe three times in the past few weeks, and each time is just as lovely as the last. It is a straightforward white cake, that also happens to be gluten-free. It feels quite versatile, and as my strawberry stores dwindle in the dark months, I imagine it would hold up very well with a thick slick of jam, or just copious clouds of whipped cream.

Here’s to celebrating life, in all its ups and downs.

The Cake Recipe

1-1/2 cups (202 g) brown rice flour
1 cup minus 1 tbsp white sugar
2-1/3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/3 cup (46 g) grapeseed oil
2 tsp orange blossom water (or 1 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. Line an 8″ round cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Blop in all the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Scrape into the lined cake pan.

Now, this is important: let the batter sit in the pan for about 15 minutes before baking. Is it science, is it superstition? Who knows. But the baking powder starts to react and create bubbles, and the flour has time to hydrate, and fairies have time to come by and bless your creation…

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the middle looks dry. Let it cool in its tin for a few hours.

When you are ready to assemble a full-on cake, slice the cake into two layers with a serrated knife. I like to scratch a line all the way around before I go in and actually cut the middle. Place your bottom layer on a pretty serving plate. Pile on a bunch of strawberries – whole, halved, or sliced, it’s up to you. Gently drop on a few clouds of whipped cream. I’m very serious about my whipped cream to cake ratio, so I use about 500 ml of 35% cream for one cake. Add on the second layer of cake, and repeat.

Another important thing: let the cake “age” in the fridge for at least four hours before serving. It helps moisture transfer into the cake, so that it is delicious, harmonized, and perfect. Everyone gets to know eachother and steep in cake bliss. Enjoy.