Brandied cherry snacking cake

(Brandied cherry snacking cake)

Yesterday I visited a good friend whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. Her mother wanted to know when I was going to start having children. I could almost hear my biological clock ticking while she eyeballed me.

Over Christmas, everyone wanted to know what I was planning to do for work in 2012, as though my answer of ‘being on holiday’ was not an option.

Last week I received a belated Christmas card from a relative, addressed to us as Mr. and Mrs. It reminded me of various aunts who had long ago launched themselves on a now abandoned quest to get me into a white gown and a church.

Undeniably, everyone means well, but a part of me can’t help the exasperation from bubbling up. Why in this day and age, are we still made to feel as though we’re failing in the game of life if we haven’t advanced to the next expected stage. Don’t pity me the unfulfilled potential of my child bearing hips or my barren ring fingers. I just want to make cake and be happy.

To call this a snacking cake almost gives anyone license to attack it at any given time of the day. Even breakfast. Or that curious hour just before bedtime when it seems too late to have something substantial but not that late that you can’t conceivably fit in a quick bite and one last cup of tea. As it happens, true to its name, I found myself coming back continuously to trim little slivers off this cake a day after I’d made it. If you can’t please your relatives, let them eat cake.

Brandied cherry snacking cake :
(adapted from a recipe in Flour by Joanne Chang)

170g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
230g (1 3/4 cup) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
220g (1 1/2 cups) small brandied cherries (or 2 cups large pitted cherries)

Preheat the oven to 175’C (350F).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well between each addition, then the vanilla extract. Sift the dry ingredients together. Fold it into the butter mixture, followed by the brandied cherries. Spread the batter into a greased and lined 10-inch round cake pan. Bake for around 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

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  1. leaf (the indolent cook) said,

    January 12, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

    Or stop baking delicious things for your relatives until they leave your lifestyle choices alone! Keep the cake to yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. mademoiselle dรฉlicieuse said,

    January 12, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    Yes, so many expectations! The husband and I have been married for a little over 2 years now, and been together for over 5 (nothing like your 14 though!), and the pitter-patter questions are rolling in at full force. Probably doesn’t help that there are no grandchildren in the husband’s family yet so the pressure is definitely on *sigh*

  3. Val said,

    January 12, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    I would have to agree with you on that one, just eat cake and be happy. I’ve really been enjoying your posts lately and look forward to them every week. Keep up the great work on your blog; I love it!

  4. Hannah said,

    January 12, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    Oh god yes, god yes. Thank you. I’m one of those “strange” folk that the world can’t understand: someone who is single and happy, and who doesn’t spend her life scanning for a man. Laughter and cake can be enough, sometimes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Rosa said,

    January 12, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

    Deliciously boozy! That cake must be divine.

    I hate such family pressure. Why can’t others accept that we are not all like them…



  6. Emma said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 12:23 am

    Drat, I have no brandy or cherries. If I wasn’t picking up to make a move in a week, I would go buy them immediately, but I’m trying to cut back on items to move, not add to them. As soon as I’m settled again – although I’m sure you’ll have something else that wows me just as much by then:)

    Sounds like you know just the right (tasty) strategy for dealing with the frustrations of relatives.

  7. Carol Anne said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 12:39 am

    Ha – I love everything about this post! My partner and I have been together three years, but live separately (and happily). A lot of my friends can’t get their head round this idea at all, never mind the idea that marriage isn’t on the radar. Cake, on the other hand, is on the radar at all times – especially SNACKING cake, which is the best invention ever.

  8. JED said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 12:46 am

    As one unmarried, childless woman to another (and I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for about 9 or 10 years) , I can’t say I agree with you that I’ve ever felt pressure or heard incessant questions about marriage and child-rearing. Hopefully, that’s a sign that people are coming around to the idea of women making decisions like these. However, I think it’s more a product of my own outlook, the way I present myself, and how I answer questions when they are asked.

    For example, on outlook: I have never so much as thought of a wedding, marriage, or children. Not even as a child. So I never talked about it. Ever. And when people ask me, I say, “It’s not for me,” and they typically don’t ask again. If they do ask again, I say, “It’s not something I’m interested in.” I put an end to the topic quickly and move on, rather than trying to hash out why I’ve made this decision. There isn’t much of a “why.” To me, it’s more like why would some one choose TO get married. That takes choice. Not marrying takes no choice.

    My sister, on the other hand, reported to have the same feelings, but she would also obsess over any question put to her about the topic of a wedded life, talking about it at length, debating how it was her right to not marry. As it turns out, she did not have her mind made up. She was just waiting for the right person to (easily) convince her. She’s now married and expecting her second child.

    Don’t be afraid to be curt the first time people ask you about your decisions. I reckon fewer of them will ask again. If it has been an ongoing discussion though, perhaps YOUR mind is not actually made up yet.

  9. GourmetGetaways said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 7:08 am

    I think people just say those things because they don’t know what else to say, especially at family get together’s. I wouldn’t worry about it. Love your cake though.

    The name “Snacking Cake” is perfect, all cakes should be snacking cakes, permission to “go get some cake” gorgeous sentiment.

    Great story ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S I have five children and well past having children mentally, I still get asked if we are planning another :0 REALLY!!

  10. Anna @ the shady pine said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    I hear you….my husband and I have been married for 8 years and don’t have children….a little fact our families just cannot seem to get their heads around. But then again as soon as my sister in law had her first child then the inevitable question was when were they having a second. It just something to talk about ๐Ÿ™‚

    A snacking cake is perfect….and like you say especially before bed time when you’re looking for a little bite.

  11. Emma said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    This recipe looks lovely, the spices with the brandy and fruit would be devine. Love that it’s called “snacking” cake ๐Ÿ™‚

    I say ignore other people’s ideas about when you are getting married/having children, etc! We all have to do what makes us happy.

  12. Y said,

    January 13, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    Val : Thank you very much! That’s really nice of you to say.

    Emma : Oh you know what, I reckon you could even make this cake with something completely different. Rum and raisins come to mind. Good luck with the move!

    JED : Thanks for your advice. Like you, I’ve actually always said that marriage and kids aren’t hugely important in my life. Thankfully, people have started to back off a bit over the years, but there are the persistent few and sometimes I do feel as though I shouldn’t need to keep answering the same questions at my age.

    GourmetGetaways and Anna @ the shady pine : Totally agree, it’s sometimes the case of it being a form of small talk. To be honest, can’t we all just talk about the weather instead! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Lee said,

    January 14, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    Oh God I hate that expectation of checking the next life marker off the list. So ignorant. But yes, it is often mindless small talk. Like when you’re a kid and relatives fall back on the old “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Also ignorant – what if you never intend to grow up ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thankfully we no longer experience those questions. However, I read Ann’s mother’s year-that-was Christmas letter to the rest of her family in the USA (she left it on her desk so I figured it was okay to read) and she covered in detail everyone else here, the brothers, their spouses, their kids etc, wrote in detail about Ann and her work etc, but there was not a single mention of me. She just didn’t mention me or that Ann was in a relationship at all in spite of us being together for more than 25 years. Just because we’re not married. Funny.

    Happy New Year to you guys. Your weekend away looks like it was lush and peaceful. Love the barbecued cake.

  14. Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen said,

    January 14, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

    I absolutely agree. Trust me, i have an even crazier story to tell. Just yesterday, my big aunt was talking to me about how I should be getting married by now. Being single wasn’t helping. But! I’m 21! … I don’t get why I feel the pressure. As though she convinced something within me….

    The right time to “need” some brandy. Eat cake and be happy! gonna be my motto from now on

  15. Danguole said,

    January 14, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    Amen to everything you just said! I think it was Maria Bamford who said, “Sure, I want to get married, but not as much as I want to be slowly lowered into a warm, rising vat of bread dough.” My feelings exactly.

    And that cake looks divine!

  16. Caitlin said,

    January 15, 2012 @ 6:48 am

    Why should you worry about having that ring or that baby? You and B are great together, and I don’t see how a white dress would change that. So silly. As for babies – ugh. I’ve been lucky enough to not have friends constantly asking me when we’ll have kids, but the few that have back off after the second or third “Never.” I feel very lucky that my family doesn’t pressure me (no living grandparents wanting great grandbabies, and my mom has asserted that she’s too cool to be a grandma). Ah well, your family will learn or they won’t, and you can just keep on baking and being happy. What else matters?

  17. InTolerantChef said,

    January 16, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

    When awkward questions are asked, just waft a slice of cake under their noses, that should shut them up. If it doesn’t… walk away with the cake! They will soon learn to stop ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. shez said,

    January 17, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    If my answer to 2012 plans involved the words “being on holidays” I’d be a far happier person than present… that said, having snacking cake (for, well, snacking on) sounds like a perfectly reasonable alternative course to happiness right now.

  19. Sophie @ Neoflam Cookware said,

    January 17, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    Haven’t tried it yet but it sounds like a sweet and wonderful.

  20. Kerin (girlmeetssugar) said,

    January 19, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

    As long as you’re happy that’s all that matters. Those people who are placing unecessary pressure on you are from a totally different generation with different sets of values. They probably don’t even realise they’re upsetting you. Just stick to what you know makes you happy. Ie. cake! and lots of it.

  21. Julia @ Mรฉlanger said,

    January 19, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    So great to see someone who knows exactly what they want, and doesn’t feel pressured to conform.

    I also admire that your response doesn’t t place any judgement on those of us who have picked the more “traditional” ring and baby path.

    I think it’s great people can make a range of life choices. Keeps things interesting, don’t you think?

    And I would never want to suggest my choice is better, by way of suggesting someone else’s decision is undesirable. Bravo to you!!

  22. shaz said,

    January 23, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

    Sigh…you just can’t ever win with relatives. As a married mother of two girls, I’m constantly being asked when I’m going to have a boy, as if a) I actually have a choice in choosing a baby’s gender, and b) I actually want to have more children!

    Whatever you choose to do, there’s always someone out there who decides that you’re not doing it the proper way, ie. their way. Let’s just stop feeding them cake, perhaps they’ll learn their lesson ๐Ÿ™‚

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