Sunday, May 13, 2007

Watermelon Cake and Thoughts of Summer

Summer vacation started yesterday.

I thought our teacher Mrs. Hall would never let us go.

When school had finally ended, my little brother Fred and I raced each other down to the creek. We tossed our books on the riverbank and waded barefoot in the stream. We splashed each other until we fell over laughing, soaking wet. Then, we lay on the bank so the hot afternoon sun would dry our clothes. Dad says he’ll blow up the old inner tube tomorrow so we can float along the stream this summer. After dinner, we got to stay up late and listen to “The Shadow” on the wireless.

This morning, I stretched out in the hammock on the porch with the new issue of “Boy’s Life.” I really like the stories about Scouts that have incredible adventures. I have this new comic called “The Phantom.” He’s a masked hero that fights bad guys. But, I’m saving it for later. Fred is down the hill trying to catch frogs for his collection.

Ma’s making a Watermelon Cake to celebrate the start of summer vacation. I ask Ma if there’s watermelon in the cake, but she says no, it just looks like a watermelon. I ask her why we don’t just slice up a watermelon, but she says she likes to make fancy cakes and show us what a good baker she is. Ma says Watermelon Cake is niftic, but I’m not sure what that means.

I hear Ma in the kitchen so I go inside. Ma does the baking early in the day before it gets too hot. There’s a slight breeze that moves the gingham curtains that hang on the kitchen window. Ma has on her favorite stiff white apron. I pull myself up on the battered kitchen stool to watch her work.

Ma cut the recipe for Watermelon Cake out of the newspaper. She says the recipe is really old and someone named Mrs. Rorer showed a bunch of people how to make it at the World’s Fair in Chicago way back in 1893. Ma says Mrs. Rorer was a famous lady who ran a cooking school and showed people at the fair how to bake.

Ma beats creamy yellow butter and sugar together and separates the yolk from six eggs. She mixes the egg whites with the butter and flour. The batter is very white and half of it goes into a pan. The rest of the batter she colors pink and then tosses in a handful of raisins and then pours it all into a second cake pan. She says it will look like the seeds in the watermelon when it’s all baked.

After the layers come out of the oven and cool, Ma cuts the white layer in half and uses more butter and sugar to make the frosting. She tints the frosting green, so the outside of the cake will look like a ripe watermelon. She alternates layers of white and pink, and lets me lick the bowl after she ices the cake. The frosting turns my tongue green. If I stand at the other end of the room, the cake kind of looks like a watermelon sitting on the kitchen table.

In the afternoon when Dad is home, we slice the cake. I take a bite. It is sweet, buttery and delicious and summer vacation feels like it will last forever. Fred picks out the raisins, but I guess when you eat watermelon, you really do spit out the seeds, don’t you?

Dad’s going to take us to the Bijou tonight to see “Flash Gordon Rocket Ship” and he says we can take a ride on the carousel afterwards.

School seems like a million years away.

(Dedicated to The Old Foodie and devotees of summertime and Retro Cakes.)

© 2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


The Old Foodie said...

I love it t.w. It is going to be a hard Retro-cake to follow!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm laughing out loud! Never heard of Watermelon Cake, but I think I'll try this one with my grandkids this summer, just for fun.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow, T.W.!! This is just stunning!

I loved this cake!

Freya said...

Just brilliant!
I have got to make that cake!

Sylvia said...

Oh that is great!

Anonymous said...

Great Job!
Why buy a slice of watermelon when you can eat cake!

Bradley said...

that is very cool and just plain crazy!

Jann said... are very clever there in the kitchen! What a creation! This is a real cake-

Stella said...

Wow, that's one beautifully decorated cake I'm eating with my eyes here!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What a delightful post, T.W.! I love the image of the "green tongued" child--wasn't that always the best part? Thanks for the link to "Feeding America." I'm looking forward to perusing it. And thanks for the fantastic cake! You put so much care and effort into your creations, and this is no exception.

I've got to tell my mom about this one; she bakes with my nieces, and they would flip over this watermelon cake!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

TOF - Thanks for the great idea!

Lydia -- The cake sure put a smile on our faces!

Patricia -- Thanks so much. I appreciate your thoughts, since you are such an excellent cake baker and decorator!

Freya/Paul -- I'm thinking this is just the start of cakes that are decorated to look like some other type of food. Maybe an okra-inspired cake?

Sylvia - Thanks for visiting!

Sandi - I think I'm definately a cake guy.

Bradley -- Even crazier after you have two slices in a row!

Jann -- I'm still in shock, in a good way!

Valentina -- I wish I could send you a piece!

Susan -- there are so many great things at Feeding America. Let me know what you think. And, watermelon cake would be a great project for your mom and nieces. It brought out the kid in all of us!

Anonymous said...

This is amazing! And the story behind it is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

What a fun and charming read (not to mention the cake!) Found my way here via Susan at Food Blogga, and am glad I did. (I grew up on Long Island, many years ago, when there was nary a foodie in sight. Glad to know things have changed.)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Veron - Thanks so much! Hope you're enjoying your blogging break, and can't wait to hear what you've been up to!

Christine - Welcome! You've got some amazing photos on your site. Where on LI did you grow up?

Brilynn said...

Love the cake, love the story.

~~louise~~ said...

To think I almost missed this heart warming story and that mouth watering Watermelon Cake! I'm saving this link for Watermelon Month!!!

Unknown said...

This is so damn cute!! LOVE it!