“Mommy, will you make us a cake, please?”
I have no flour. My pantry is infested with moth-like flies that hitched a ride into our life in a bag of organic brown rice. They lay larva thingies in anything dry.
I haven’t made cake in a long time. I moved to a plant-based Nutritarian way of eating last fall and my pantry is just weird. I still haven’t found my new normal or established those all important menu staples. So, I have pancake mix and almond flour. Coconut oil and lots of canned beans. Nuts. I have a freezer full of nuts. But, cake, how the heck to make a cake?
Generally, I’d dive into my brain and developed a complicated recipe out of all organic, planty and health friendly ingredients. I’d make health puck ‘cookies’ or ‘nearly cake’ mug cake.
For some reason, that way this 4 year old asked for cake…it just got me. Sometimes, sometimes, we just want cake. Real cake. Not a healthy cake. Not some frozen prepackaged excuse for low calorie cake-like substance. Not an imposter. Just straight up cake.
For most cakes, although I totally rock at scratch baking, I prefer to use a cake mix. My kids are sensitive to food colorings though so that has limited the flavors that I’ll use. Did you know that chocolate cake mix often contains red #40? Yeah, so, I either do up a spice cake, search labels endlessly for one without color or make a scratch cake.
Today, due to lack of flour, scratch was out of the question. My cake flour looked like an entomologists fantasy and there hasn’t been plain flour in this house since Spring.
I opened three boxes of mix. Chocolate. Yellow. Carrot. All seemed ok until I really looked closer. Tiny nasty bugs had eaten through the plastic packages. It’s just gross. When I think I’ve defeated them, I find a new place that they have eluded me.
Finally, I checked the baking cupboard, it’s far from the pantry and has remained virgin from the attacks of those nasty little reminders of my organic mishap.
Score! I found a spice cake mix. Only slightly expired.
I insisted on adding fruit and Hank was upset about this because it wouldn’t be plain cake. I finally got him to relent because there would be no frosting. Powdered sugar? Yeah, none of that around here these days.
When this creation came out of the oven my kiddos were so excited. Cake! When was the last time we had cake?!
My 4 year old is so good at sincere authentic compliments. It warms my heart.
“Mmmmmmm. Mommy, you’re the best cake maker.”
I hugged him and then he went on…
“Mommy, we should keep some cake for Daddy when he gets home. He will like it. Remember that cake you made for Papa’s birthday that was like this but had apples. Daddy loved that. Mom, this cake is just right. No blueberry cake, no strawberry cake, no berry cake. I just love peach cake. This is the best cake I ever had. I want this kind of cake for my birthday. All the days.”
The way my son sat back and savoured each bite, closing his eyes and humming… It gave me pause. He was really in the moment. It was a planned enjoyable treat and it was special because we said it was and not because it was just some cake sitting there that needed to be eaten due to obligation of celebration. He just tasted the sweet moments of crumby bliss and that’s ok. It’s cake. It’s not anything else and we ate it. And it was good.
So, what went into this magical cake? Here it is…
Two cans of peaches packed in water or light syrup
One spice cake mix (whatever the cake mix calls for, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil, one cup water)
Two packets of spiced cider drink mix (optional)
A bit less than a 1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/3- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I eyeballed it)
1/2-3/4 cup pancake mix
How to make the cake:
First, preheat the oven to 350F.
Then, dump two cans of peaches into the bottom of an oversized baking dish. Bigger than 9×13 (I used my lasagna dish). Don’t drain these babies. You want that juice.
Open up a packet of cider mix and sprinkle it over the peaches. Mmmm, smells so good.
Now, mix up the spice cake by the directions. Mine called for a cup of water, 1/2 cup oil and three eggs. After seeing all that peach water floating around you may want to skimp on the water, don’t, we have a plan.
Next, scrape the cake batter out over those lonely peaches. It’ll look like it’s going to flop. All that liquid. Don’t fret, it’s going to be great.
Last step, mix the butter, remaining cider mix, pancake mix and brown sugar until crumbly. It won’t be a large crumble like the usual streusel topping, part of that topping is going to absorb some of the extra liquid. Sprinkle that magic over the top of the that mess of liquidy goo.
Put it in the oven at 350 (I used 360 due to my oven issues) for 33-38 minutes. I started with 28 minutes and that was definitely not long enough. If it still jiggles in the middle, it’s not done. The toothpick trick may not work here if you poke it too far down. You want the cake to be cake, not lava goo. 38 minutes was perfect for mine. I actually liked the center with a knife and looked for the tell tale cake crumb structure. Perfection.
The peaches will still look separate in their liquid. That’s how you want it. Serve this with icecream or with a cup of coffee.
This isn’t vegan, organic, nutritarian, vegetarian or any other such friendly food. It’s just cake. And sometimes, cake is just cake and that is good.