“A Faun’s Favorite Sugar-Topped Cake” by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy Pevensie sits down to have a “wonderful tea” with the Faun, Mr. Tumnus: “There was a nice brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them, and then sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then a sugar-topped cake.” My goodness, this sounds like a substantial Sunday brunch to me. I don’t know about you, but if I let myself eat as much as our favorite fantasy characters eat in our beloved stories, I would simply burst. I mean, I would certainly LIKE to eat that much, but well, I just don’t have the metabolism for such feasting. When I was envisioning my own version of a sugar-topped cake, for some reason I really wanted it to be flavored with orange and dates. I’m sure any other small, dried fruit would work just as well, if you prefer.
“A Faun’s Favorite Sugar-Topped Cake”
¼ cup soft salted butter
⅔ cup sugar
1 extra large egg
1¼ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon dry orange peel
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon 1% milk
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces chopped sugar dates
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon very soft salted butter
1-2 tablespoons of any decorative sugar you like
Preheat oven to 325°. Coat the bottom only of an 8″ round baking pan with a little bit of cooking spray. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom and lay it down in the pan. Coat the paper and the sides of the pan with more cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg on medium speed until well combined.
Combine the cake flour, orange peel, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl (use this bowl later; don’t bother washing it out); set aside. Combine the ¾ cup milk, ¼ cup orange juice, and vanilla in a 1-cup glass measure; set aside. Add alternately to the butter mixture, starting with ⅓ of the dry ingredients first, then ½ of the wet ingredients. End with the dry ingredients. Mix on medium after each addition. Scrape down sides and mix another minute or two, until well combined. Add the dates. Mix on medium about a minute more. Pour into pan. Bake 43-47 minutes, until the center tests done. Place on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and place the paper side down on the rack. Cool 1 hour.
Peel off the paper and place on a serving plate. In the medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, very soft butter, and the 1 tablespoon each of milk and orange juice. Mix with a whisk until the glaze is smooth. Spread all over the top of the cake—it’s all right if some drizzles over the sides a bit. Sprinkle the decorative sugar of your choice all over the top. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes to set. Cover and keep at room temperature. Serves 8.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. She blogs occasionally at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/astridtuttlewinegar or visit her Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astridwinegar.