Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is Funny, Hates Cake


Max spent his junior year of high school at boarding school in Texas. This would not have been my choice, but Max said he wanted to go to away because he wanted to “get serious about school.”

Max has never been very keen on school, so his wanting to “get serious about school” was a big deal. Each morning since he was in preschool, I’d practically have to wrestle him out of bed to get him to school on time. For a few months when he was 6, he would pretend to be dead when I came in to wake him. He was extremely convincing. One morning I began reading the definition of fart from the dictionary in a really nerdy voice. It’s hard to pretend to be dead when you’re laughing. And, if you’re not dead, you must get up and go to school.

This worked well for a few weeks, then I had to do it in a French accent, then as various cartoon characters, then as my mother-in-law. All good shows eventually close, though, and after he no longer found his grandmother’s worldview on flatulence entertaining, he went back to pretending he was dead. I found this funny and I admired his commitment, so it was impossible to be angry with him.

Whenever I get angry at Max he completely disarms me with humor. He knows what makes me laugh and he wields it like a sword whenever I try to discipline him. Since he’s now looking down the barrel of 19, this doesn’t happen anymore. Lucky for me.

When I was pregnant, I wanted a healthy child, of course, but I also wished for a funny child. The thought of a child with no sense of humor was just unbearable. I got what I wished for.

The one thing I didn’t consider when I was making a wish list for the kind of child I’d get is the eating factor. Max is the only child I’ve ever met who doesn’t like cake. This has to be a genetic anomaly. There is no one in my family or Dan’s who refuses cake. After almost 19 years, I’ve finally made my peace with this. Max can mimic perfectly just about anyone he hears and quip with the best of them, but he will not abide a birthday cake.

Max brings me the gift of laughter every day, something I consider more valuable than straight A’s, excellence in sports or any of the other myriad things by which we gauge our children’s contribution. So, he won’t eat cake. That I can live with.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake with Sweet Almond Crunch
Vegan
Makes 9 servings

Entenmann’s Louisiana Crunch Cake was my inspiration for this cake, and, nope, Max won’t eat that, either. In case you’ve never eaten the Louisiana Crunch Cake, it’s a moist yellow cake that’s sort of Bundt shaped, and it’s covered with this crunchy-sweet glaze. It’s delicious and filled with so much crap I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how much I love it. I know blueberries aren’t in season now, so if you want to leave them out, go right ahead. Since Entenmann’s doesn’t use real fruit in its cakes, feel free to follow suit.

Topping
1 tablespoon toasted almonds, finely chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Cake
Canola oil spray
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the blueberries
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅓ cup canola oil
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup blueberries

1. In a small bowl, mix together almonds and sugar and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8x8 baking pan with canola oil.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, applesauce, almond milk and vanilla and almond extracts. Stir dry ingredients into wet until combined. Combine blueberries with a pinch or two of flour so they don’t settle at the bottom of the cake. Gently fold blueberries in to batter.
3. Spoon batter into pan and make sure it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle topping onto cake. Bake 28-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in pan on rack before cutting and serving. You can store leftover cake, covered, in the baking pan for up to 2 days.

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