I went to Sarah’s blog for inspiration before writing this post about baking with her and she didn’t let me down. In between all of the photos of kitchens and babies was a Barbara Brown Taylor quote about faith living itself out in tangible ways, like cooking. "To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger — these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life."
When Sarah asked me to help make her husband’s birthday cake, she knew I would jump at the chance. She wanted to surprise Luke for his birthday and found this cake recipe she was sure he would love. After keeping lots of secrets and planning the party for weeks on end, Sarah and I spent hours in the kitchen the day of the party perfecting the final detail of the surprise — Luke’s cake. Baking was the ultimate distraction and a way to pass the time until the party. We stirred, poured and frosted while attempting to ignore our nervousness about the surprise. We discovered an important lesson that day and Sarah has continued to learn even more since marrying Luke six months ago — I’ll let her share part of the story firsthand.
"Living, experiencing and learning with my husband has been incredible fun — especially when it comes to working together in the kitchen. There is a definite ebb and flow in our time in the kitchen; I'm always attempting new recipes that sound yummy & exciting and Luke is always bringing savory, go-to recipes to the table when my experiments fall short.
"Cooking together with Luke has & is changing my life, slowly (like Barbara Brown Taylor’s quote) and in the sweetest ways. It’s giving me more opportunities to learn about him and experience new recipes together, like this cake! This month, Luke turned 25 and I wanted him to feel so loved and celebrated since he was dreading his quarter-of-a-century birthday. I found the perfect cake recipe and the perfect food loving friend to bake it with me (thanks, KT!) — so the surprise party planning was in full swing. Fast forward to the day of the party: I learned that Luke doesn’t really like surprises, but that he does love this cake! I consider these both successes in my food adventure, because I learned more about my husband and I get to add a great cake recipe to my collection.
"I think there is something to be said about cooking for and serving those who are placed in our lives. When we allow ourselves the chance to cook for someone else or be cooked for, it fills us up. Not just our bellies, but our hearts and our spirits can be so full of satisfaction simply from sharing a meal, or a slice of cake."
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Add the oil & vanilla until combined.
- In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Gradually add these to the stand mixer, alternating with the milk.
- Once the batter is smooth, evenly distribute amongst two greased 8 or 9-inch cake pans.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature before removing from pans
For the Frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add butter, sugar & vanilla. Beat until light & fluffy, about 6-8 minutes.
- Slice each cake layer in half so you create four even layers of cake (feel free to skip this step & make a two layer cake).
- Begin with a layer of cake, followed by a thick coat of frosting, followed by strawberry jam, followed by another layer of cake. Repeat. Frost the top & outside of cake as desired.