Cake For Days

I’ve had a quiet weekend, coming home after a long Friday and curling up with a good book and nursing a dirty martini (heavy on the olives). After about halfway through the extremely British Post-Captain the descriptions of rather delicious teas and social dinners got the better of me and I decided I needed cake. So I made one.

It was a bit of an experiment. About two cups of flour, a cup of sugar, some baking powder. Usually I put in one egg but this time I divided three eggs, whipped the whites arduously by hand until they were light and fluffy, and folded it in with half a cup of honey, the beaten egg yolks, and half a cup of milk. A dash of salt, vanilla and almond extract. I wasn’t really paying attention to the oven and accidentally set it to 200 C, which caused the crust the brown quite nicely while leaving the insides gooey. I cut off the just-deliciously-shy-of-burnt top, and popped it back in at 160 C, which cooked nicely. Ginny and I made short work of it (okay, Ginny had a few small pieces, I may have eaten three quarters of a cake by myself). The final result is a dense, chewy, moist cake that looks like cornbread but is infinitely more delicious. I eat it without frosting of any kind, which I think would only detract from it. I improvised the recipe years ago when i was trying to experiment with pancake mix and decided to see what would happen, and have been making some variation of it ever since.

An easy Saturday with no practice, since the team was at a tournament. Getting stuff done around the house, catching up on news, a little studying. Bambi and I met Ginny in Sanlitun where they insisted on eating at Subway (I declined to order anything), and then spending what felt like hours at a DVD store. We walked to Tuanjiehu Park, where a little birthday shindig was occurring for a friend of a friend’s. The park was beautiful, or at least, it may have been many years ago, and probably would still be if the water wasn’t so disgusting. We only stayed a short time, and then met up with some other people to go to dinner at Baoyuan Jiaoziwu on Maizidian Jie, home of the delicious crack dumplings. I don’t think I will ever get tired of these dumplings, although some Chinese people don’t like them because they aren’t “authentic,” they sure are amazing. Spicy peanut and pork, spicy pepper and sweet potato and lamb, glass noodle carrot cucumber tofu, crispy rice and vegetable pork…the variations are amazing. By the time we sat down I hadn’t eaten in 7 hours, and so even though we ordered a prodigious amount, we polished them off rather quickly. Sated and a little tired from all our walking, the family returned home. We toyed with the idea of going out, but ended up watching movies and relaxing instead.

Dina has started working at my English center which is great, someone to talk to who isn’t an officious Swede or strange faux-British-really-French guy is fantastic. After our morning lessons we wandered around the area, settling for lunch at Paris Baguette, which had some pretty decent sandwiches, garlic bread and pizza. After a long afternoon of little girls sobbing through class, and kids feigning illness to get out of aprticipating, and general rowdiness, I was ready for some adult social time.

I met AH near Ritan Park (I hadn’t ever been in the area, it is surprisingly Russian!) and we found our European socialite’s home with no small difficulty and a tad bit of dithering. It turned out to be a lovely evening with amazing little treats-irresistable tiny baozi and jiaozi, homemade yogurt with fresh fruit, and the best cake that I’ve had here, a soft and fluffy genoise filled with sugared pear and coated with a not-too-sweet mousse of some sort. It was amazing. I restrained myself to a tiny morsel instead of the half a cake I could have devoured. Our European socialite loves bringing together people from all over, so I mingled with entrepreneurs, Swedish fashion designers, Beijing LBGT film directors, South African hedonists…it was all quite fun. We stayed for a couple hours, then bid our gracious hostess farewell and departed. A girl could get used to a social life like that.

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