Considering how he’s not really a foodie, E. invents an awful lot of new recipes. There have been cheese soup suggestions, a lobster and strawberry thing, a hotdog and watermelon soup, and there are always ideas for cakes. I slightly wish I was one of the moms who let their kids make whatever they dream up, could indulge all of his imaginings, but I can’t afford fantasy groceries. And I hate wasted food.
Z. is different, a guy who likes to access information he knows is good. When he asked for oatmeal the other morning, he was excited to run to our Fairy Tale Feasts book and find the recipe associated with it before running off for his little step-stool so he could watch it bubble away on the stove. He nodded in satisfaction when it tasted right.
Every now and then we all agree on something that E. has dreamed up, and that’s how we came to make the Yellow Jacket Cake he’s been suggesting for some months now. He kept telling me about the yellow lemon cake that had “sugar … milk … and eggs. And flour, mommy. And it looks like a yellow jacket.” We needed a cake for our big school spring event, something that would have great kid appeal, but not send me into a state of cringe with its ingredients. The usual thing is to make one from a box, cover it with frosting from a can, and then dump leftover candy all over the top. (The tip from other moms is that it’s your ticket to moving out all the leftover Easter candy you still have around.) But cake is easy, and I don’t like to bake from a mix unless I’m cooking for a highly allergic type person and I need to make sure that there’s been absolutely no contamination from offending ingredients.
Buzz buzz. This recipe made one single-layer lemon-marshmallow cake and a half-dozen cupcakes for home. E took a look at the cake and said, “It’s okay, but I was expecting it to be a lot taller. Next time: five layers, Mommy.” I nodded. Maybe. But I noted that our cake was among the first ones chosen at the big school shindig, so I’m declaring it officially good enough.
Yellow Jacket Cake
I made mine as one single-layer cake and six cupcakes, but for simplicity’s sake am writing this as if for a double layer cake.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 1 t. fresh lemon zest or 1/2 t. dried lemon peel
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp. milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch layer pans with removable bottoms.
- Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, then lemon juice and zest.
- Mix together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix well.
- Spread batter into pans, then bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- (While cake is baking, make the ridiculously easy and vaguely naughty frosting below.)
- Remove cake from pans and cool on racks.
- 3 c. Fluff (or Ricemellow, if you’d like to be reasonably pure)
- 1 1/2 c. organic non-hydrogenated palm frosting
- 1 T. lemon juice
- pinch of lemon zest or dried lemon peel
- Optional: tiny dash of yellow food coloring
- Optional: black and yellow colored sugars and yellow and black candy
- Beat all ingredients together until fluffy and thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust flavor to your palate, with more fluff or lemon juice as necessary.
- Frost the cooled cakes: place one upside down on a large plate, and spread a layer of frosting over the top of it. Place the other layer, upside down, on top. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake – this is your crumb coat, so don’t worry if it does in fact have crumbs and bits of cake in it. Then cover that first coat with the remaining frosting, making it as swirly and fluffy as you like.
- To make it yellow jacket-ish, sprinkle black and yellow sugars in stripes across the top, then toss on any appropriately colored leftover stale crappy candy you can’t even believe you bought in the first place. Voila.