Checking In (+ Yellow Butter Cake)

[On the Wadi Trail, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 2015.]

We moved into our new house last weekend and I’ve already baked a lemon yogurt cake, made lots of fruit compotes for a certain someone, did the requisite pot of quinoa and roasted a chicken … So, not much has changed kitchen-wise other than my current abode’s offering is much tinier and darker than my last lovely tiled and light-filled space and I’m a bit thin in the wares department. Still, we’ve transitioned OK-ish and I remain grateful we came over to Riyadh from Casablanca rather than going back to the States first. Flying long distances plus time differences when you have a little one adds the sort of dimension to travel that almost makes you want to stay home (only almost) or at least slate a long stretch of time to stay when you get there. That’s to say, pretty much, that I am looking forward to a nice summer of California time because a) there’s no way we are staying in the desert when temperatures can reach upwards of 120 degrees F and b) have I mentioned how … interesting … long haul flights are with an 18-month-old?

Just the thought of it makes me want to reach for a slice of cake. And, please, let’s have one together – specifically this one I made in my waning, pre-move days in Morocco. I’d get up early 3 days a week to log 6-8 miles along the ocean (which I already miss!) and then I’d think about what to organize and what I should bake. (I was also trying to whittle down most of my pantry so that was an excuse.) The baking part was clearly the most important of the day.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to bake this particular yellow cake with chocolate frosting here in my new place but alas! I keep forgetting to buy a cheap cake pan at the grocery store. This should go on my list for tomorrow’s trip to Carrefour, along with a nice piece of salmon (crossing fingers) and some more vegetables and fruit to make for dinner because we’ve invited a guest to share with us and it’s the first time someone is coming over for a meal. This helps me feel more settled – when I cook for others – and while I only have 3 pots in the kitchen and a houseful of rather dark (if nice) government-issued furniture I will make the most of what I have.

’tis a simple enough cake, calling for the usual suspects of eggs, milk, and butter. And yet. When capped with a creamy swath of chocolate buttercream (or almond buttercream, as I did in another iteration) it borders on the sublime. These days when I am working with less I streamline my meals and desserts and after all I think I prefer cooking this way. Lots more time, then, for me to utilize the baby’s naps for reading the New York Times online or check out another book for my kindle from the San Francisco Public Library. Or dust. There will be a lot of dusting in my future activities. Welcome to the desert. It’s definitely different.

Join the Conversation

  1. Mmm… butter cake. Doesn’t even need frosting, not that I’d turn it down. A little ice cream perhaps.

    I know exactly what you mean about how cooking for someone settles you. I say it grounds me. Helps me feel connected to the planet and its life. Which I will wish for you as you settle into this slightly less friendly location. Good life to all of you!

  2. Helen Spiridakis says:

    Nice post…..lovely photos……sounds delish!

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