A few weeks back I got the sweetest email from a friend of yore, a girl that I went to summer camp with and then college. She was writing to tell me that she reads my blog and uses my recipes—two bits of information that always catch me off-guard and give me a little thrill. Aside from a handful of readers who leave lovely comments I have no idea if people actually read my blog. Sure, I occasionally glance at the ticking numbers on my site meter, but they don’t mean much—for all I know, the majority of hits are by people searching for enlightenment and when google lands them on my blog they suffer pangs of bitterest disappointment and disillusionment which leads to a falling out with all search engines. I hope that doesn't happen, of course, but I have no way of knowing. (Yes, there are high-techy ways of finding out, but I am not inclined towards any techy-ness, and certainly not any HIGH techy-ness.)
So when Bethany (for that is the name of the aforementioned sweet girl) emailed me and told me that she actually uses some of my recipes in her CSA newsletter, I was first surprised, second tickled, and third addled. Because—hello!—does this means there are people actually reading and cooking from this little blog? I mean, that’s what I want them to do, but whoa, dude! All my shortcomings—the stupid things I've said and done, the outrages claims I've made—it's like getting caught with my pants down, and just because I'm used to walking around in public with my pants down doesn't mean I don't still blush when someone looks at me, know what I mean?
Um, okay. Forget I said anything, okay? (Geesh.)
I am slip-sliding all over this post, the point of which (yes! there’s a point!) is cake.
Cake was the point of Bethany’s email, too. See, she was after a recipe. This is what she said, “I still remember a particular mint cake that your mother sent down to school once - a three-layer white cake with flecks of green that was dense and sweet and amazing. I had the recipe and lost it. I'd be grateful for any leads on this - but no hurry.”
I immediately knew exactly what she was talking about. It’s not every day that you eat a mint cake with real mint in it, and I clearly remember the first time I had this cake. It was at a cousin’s outdoor wedding up in Pennsylvania (my husband and I were a couple months shy of getting married ourselves), and at the reception, we had this cake.
Come to think of it, I don’t remember much of anything about the wedding or the cake. It’s more of a fact lodged in my brain than an actual visceral memory. I know we had this mint cake, and I know it was delicious, and I know the wedding was lovely. But that’s all I know. The end.
In order to bake this cake, I had to beg some dried mint from my mom. She brought me the last of her mint which didn’t measure quite up to the full three tablespoons, but it had to do.
And do it did, just fine.
I iced the cake with cream fluff frosting, but any butter frosting would be fine. However, I think this elegant cake would be super classy served plain (perhaps baked in a bundt pan), dressed only with sugared strawberries or red raspberries, whipped cream optional.
Here’s what happens when I serve my husband his first piece of cake. I pull up a stool, sit down, and then stare at him as he eats.
“What do you think?” I ask.
Silently, he chews. I tap my foot and wait. He swallows.
“Well? What do you think?” I ask again.
He ignores me, shovels another piece into his mouth, and continues chewing.
“You’ve had plenty of time to taste it,” I snap. “TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!”
Then the Baby Nickel sidles up to the table, attempts to sneak a taste with his grubby paw, and gets the boot.
And I am appeased, for my question has been answered. My husband likes the cake.
Mint Wedding Cake
This cake made two full 9-inch layers, but you could get three layers if you used 8-inch pans.
A note on my recipe card says: put no mint in icing. The cake is perfectly minty as is—any more would be a plunge headlong overboard.
Oil of peppermint is not to be confused with peppermint extract. Check the baking aisle of your grocery store or a health food store.
For a standard white cake: omit the oil of peppermint and dried mint leaves, and increase the vanilla extract to 2 teaspoons.
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted cake flour (I used Softasilk)
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons crushed dried mint leaves
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 drops oil of peppermint
6 (3/4 cup) egg whites
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Using the soiled beaters, cream together the butter and sugar.
Measure the flour, baking powder, salt, and dried mint into a small bowl. In another small bowl, measure the milk, water, vanilla, and oil of peppermint.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the wet. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Divide the batter between two greased, wax paper-lined (grease the wax paper, too), and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the cakes and carefully dumping them out onto a cooling rack.
If desired, ice the cooled cakes with buttercream (some suggestions: cream fluff frosting, buttercream frosting, and vanilla buttercream frosting).
I stored this cake, well-covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. The cool temperatures made the cool minty-ness even more refreshing.
This same time, years previous: banana cake with creamy peanut butter frosting