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Rites of Passage

Cooling on linuxspice's counter right now are two Davis Family Birthday cakes. One is for a friend going through a rite of passage, the other is for another friend having a birthday.

Mastering this recipe is an important part of being one of the women in my family. Mom has recounted to me several times just how many of these cakes she had to make for my fater before my grandmother would admit that she'd gotten it right, and thereby accept her into the family. And I'm the only child in the family in my generation, male or female, so the entire weight of the tradition falls to me. Have I mentioned that being able to make this cake is a Really Big Deal, emotionally?

I sinned against family tradition by not sifting the flour (Amanda doesn't have a sifter, and the kitchen store was closed when I realized i'd forgotten to buy her one). And I should have trimmed the wax paper for the bottom of the cake pans. And beaten the eggs before folding them in. And I think I overcooked redbird's cake a little. And I underestimated how much sugar I'd need, and will have to make a fourth trip to the grocery store for more in the morning before I make the icing. And the premium Ghirardelli chocolate that I bought at the kitchen store went missing, so I wound up using good old Baker's instead.

I remember reading a First Blood ritual in one of my Pagan reference books, in which the guest of honor is admonished that she now has the power to create life, and that she should use it wisely. Mom and I are both infertile, so creating life in our family involves some outside intervention (I was adopted, and moominmuppet is going to pinch hit for me). But Davis women have always had the power to create birthday cake from this recipe handed down from mother to daughter for four generations. My cake isn't up to Grandma's standards yet, but now I can do it, too.

I hope they enjoy it tomorrow....

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sdaemon
Nov. 10th, 2002 05:38 am (UTC)
my family has a similar situation. Mainly, regarding a recipe for a cherry cream pie (which my sister bastardizes and uses cool whip instead of making whipped cream, just not the same) but also on a few other minor "signature" recipes of ours. My mother died a long time ago, though, so the burden of teaching me how to cook fell largely upon my father (and myself).

I've recently learned that the tradition applies to other items not themselves food but directly involved with such. A 1950s-era smoker will be passed down to me from my father. He had originally bought two of these heavy-duty cast-aluminum smokers, only ever used one. They're great. They last forever. In fact, they last so long that the company that made them put themselves out of business by producing too good of a product. My father is currently kicking himself for having sold one of the two smokers as scrap metal, but we make do with the one we have. Items cooked it in taste like nothing else...

Traditions are neat. Food is neater. And if you're wondering, hi, i'm interested in the AT too :P
krasota
Nov. 10th, 2002 08:55 am (UTC)
a secret: if you don't have a sifter, just open the bag or bin of flour and use a big spoon or serving fork to fluff the flour. keep this up as you spoon it into your measuring cups and the flour will be fine.

alternately, you could go by weight. one cup of sifted wheat flour is four ounces.

*unsifted* is five ounces in a cup. so you could just weigh out four ounces and be safe. ;)



mhw
Nov. 10th, 2002 12:39 pm (UTC)
I'm currently holder of the Family Christmas Cake recipe. Justin inherited his mother's Chocolate Cake.

Unless we ever adopt... who's going to inherit? *sudden melancholy feeling*
(Anonymous)
Nov. 29th, 2002 09:58 am (UTC)
A trick
Another trick for "sifting" pre-sifted flour: Measure the flour and anything to be sifted with it into a big zip-lock bag. Zip it with plenty of air inside, then double-check to make sure it's sealed. (I learned that one the hard way.) Shake the bag thoroughly. Presto: "Sifted" flour. It has the side benefit of providing a convenient place to store the dry ingredients while you mix up the wet ones, should you need to do that.

A friend in Cleveland
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )