Big changes are on the way in my neighborhood, and I'm trying to get used to them . . . yesterday, I got a completely unexpected call from a local realtor, saying that the plot of land adjoining my back yard was going to be developed as a small retirement-townhome complex. I've loved the way my lot runs freely into the city cemetery's unused section; I have an unbroken vista of more than a half-mile, with just grass and a few trees. Not for much longer, evidently. There are much worse possible developments than retirement townhomes, but still--I have to sigh for the stand of big old evergreens that are just on the cemetery's side of the property line, because I can't imagine they'll survive the development. Goodbye, rabbits and yellow-bellied sapsuckers and foxes.
I have to bake a cake this afternoon to take to a Rotary cookout (greeting the new district governor; this is official visit day, and actually I need to do some whippin' and gittin' to make the official-visit board meeting at eleven). Which one of these should I do? I'll have to go to the grocery store for flour and sugar no matter what, because I'm almost out of both; the question is just whether I buy a jar of mayo while I'm there, or plums, eggs, and a lemon.
My Mom's Idiot-Proof Mayonnaise Cake, Proven Successful in Tiny Scottish Dorm-Room Ovens and Everywhere Else, Too
1 cup sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup boiling water
Mix together. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes (grease and flour pan). Frost with simple powdered-sugar & cocoa icing.
Cinnamon-Sugar Plum Cake from Bon Appetit Magazine, Untried but Sounds Plausible
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
5 large plums, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Do the standard cake-batter thing (don't separate the eggs). Pour into buttered 9-inch springform pan. [editorial note: the springform pan seems like overkill, especially for a cookout, and where is my springform pan, anyway? Your basic round pan will do just fine.] Press plum wedges halfway into batter in concentric circles; mix remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over plums. Bake about 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.