We were in the path of the storm but comparatively speaking, our community was spared from the hurricane’s impact. Despite this, we felt the need to walk around our town after the storm to see if anything was different. We felt the need to drive to the places we know and love to make sure they’re still standing. This weekend, in fact, we’ll drive to the seashore to see the damage, simply because we need wrap our minds around what happened. It amazes me how much we define ourselves by the spaces in which we live and how unsettling it is to see those spaces and places altered and changed.
I suppose this is why we’re drawn to old, historic places. They’re stable. They endure. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Trustees of the Reservations but their properties are among some of our favorite places to visit in New England. Their mission is to preserve and protect the irreplaceable and natural treasures of Massachusetts and protect they do. They have 25,000 acres of some of the most beautiful and historic properties in the New England area. All are open to the public. I highly recommend spending time at their locations.
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to attend the Trustees open-house at Moraine Farm in Beverly, Massachusetts, a 275 acre country estate designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It’s such a beautiful place to explore. The farmland has been in continous operation since the 1800’s and it’s gorgeous. I especially loved the sweeping walkways and grand old trees. Old places like Moraine Farm bring a feeling of stability, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of forever – something we all need right now.
On the way home we stopped at an orchard and picked up some fall plums. I wanted to make a spice cake with my antique cake mold and thought the plums would be a perfect accompaniment. I was right.
Before the storm, I wrapped up the work on the main page of my blog re-design. I haven’t finished every page but I decided to share it with you today because this particular change is constructive and positive. I hope you like it as much as I do.
When you settle in to make this spice cake, which I know you will love, think about what we can do together to help the our friends and neighbors who have lost so much this week. It’s true, North-Easterners tend to be determined and resourceful but hurricane devastation of this magnitude takes its toll on even the most resilient among us. The East coast will rebound but change takes time and a lot of patience.
It would also help if you could join me in making a donation to one of the following organizations:
Thanks, as always, for stopping by. It’s wonderful to have you here again.
Buttermilk Spice Cake (from The Culinary Craft, 1984)
1/2 c (112 g) butter, softened
2 1/2 c (270 g) cake flour, sifted
1 tsp (5 g) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (3 g) ginger
1/2 tsp (3 g) cloves
1/4 tsp (1 g) nutmeg
1 tsp (5 g) baking powder
1 tsp (5 g) baking soda
1/2 tsp (3 g) salt
1 c (188 g) granulated sugar
1/2 c (80 g) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp (4 g) vanilla
1 1/4 c buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans, several mini-pans or one specialty cake pan.
Sift the cake flour and then measure the cake flour. Add the spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift again. It’s necessary to sift it twice or the cake will be too dense and heavy. Combine with fork.
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the granulated sugar until fluffy and lemon colored. Beat in the brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each edition. Mix in the vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, add one third of the dry ingredients to the mixture. Alternate with 1/3 of the buttermilk until both are completely incorporated.
Pour into prepared pans and bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean. Baking time will vary depending on your oven and the size of the pans you use. Cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Decorative Sugar Plums (Optional)
Lightly brush the lower half of fresh plums with a bit of corn syrup and roll in sugar. Place around cake.
Brown Sugar Frosting (Optional)
We haven’t tried frosting on this cake. We simply dusted with powdered sugar. We’re including the frosting recipe that came with the cake in case you’re interested in giving it a go.
1/3 c cold water
1 tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 large egg whites, unbeaten
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
In the top container of a double boiler, combine the ingredients in the order given. Beat 1 min. at high speed.
Place over rapidly boiling water, beating continuously. Continue to beat for 7 minutes or until the frosting becomes stiff and well-defined peaks form. Remove the top container and wipe the bottom. Apply frosting immediately to a cool cake.