Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crisis. Averted: TWD oven-roasted plum cakes

“Can we walk to school without you this year?” 

I should have been singing with joy when I heard this last week. They are in 6th and 4th grade, after all. They’d be walking with their friends. And there are about a thousand friendly neighbors to help them find their way, if god forbid, they should get lost. But still, they were taking a flying leap out of the nest, and I was in no hurry to let them go.
But I resisted my usual obsessive-compulsive-mother-hen instincts. Instead I put on my bravest smile and kissed my little chicks goodbye at the front door. Then I got busy with the vacuum cleaner so I couldn’t flutter into the car to follow them.

And would you believe it? They survived!

At pickup time, there they all were – smiling and proud and eager to walk home. Without me. “We’ll meet you there, Mom. Can we just go? Please?” Ouch. Give ‘em an inch…!

And suddenly, there it was again – swooping down on me like a shrieking, red-taloned bird of prey. The mid-life crisis was back.

These little creatures I’ve created – they can feed themselves! They can clean themselves (if they choose to). They can cross the street alone! The enormity of the fact that they can survive in the suburban wild sent me into a tail-spin of the familiar old-mommy questions.

What now? The kids are aging, so am I… Why did I dump that corporate career? What’s next for me? The questions go on and on like a broken smoke detector, chirping in my ear every ten minutes to remind me that something more must be done. Soon.

Of course I know that the mommy-ing is never really over. These kids have simply gnawed off another chunk of my heart and carted it off with them in their big-kid backpacks. They still need me for a few things -- at least until they learn to drive. But this walking milestone can’t be ignored.

And so I turned back to the places that give me comfort: the familiar, honeyed luxuries of baking and writing and dance. I Jazzercised every day for a week. I baked challah and ciabatta and whole wheat bread. And I returned once again to the Tuesdays with Dorie project, which this week featured warm, fruity mini cakes.

Oven-roasted plum cakes: a reprieve.

The cakes were a promise that my kids would stay with me for at least as long as it took to finish dessert. With this bribe, I could keep them home and safe for a few minutes longer.

So I tucked my head back down into the satisfying whirl of sugar and butter and vanilla and eggs. I actually squawked with delight as my plums split perfectly on the first try. The house bubbled up with the reassuring scent of warming sugar and all was right with the world.

After their long migration home (12 minutes!) and a light dinner, we shared these adorable desserts. Each ramekin housed little half-moons of plum, all sleepy and resting in a downy pillow of brown sugar cake. 

The mid-life crisis was averted, at least temporarily.

 The kids slurped down their dessert in two gulps, and raced each other to the door. Their friends were ready to play.

We’re going to need a lot more cake to make it through.


To read more about this recipe, check out the other bakers' posts, or go buy the book.


  1. oh! the little birds are venturing out from the nest! Glad these cakes helped get you through some of that. :)

  2. Your cakes turned out great! Kudos on the crisis being averted!

  3. Awww. They go away and they come back. (I am trying to push my 19 year old out of the nest, but she isn't getting the hint yet :-) )
    And yes, food is a very effective way to lure them back.

  4. Your cakes look perfect! We didn't live close enough to school for our daughter to want to walk (could have though) to school. It was her driving off by herself for the first time that was hard for me. Maybe I should have made her walk, a little practice at letting her go on her own. :) And yes, parenting never ends. When she tells me she is going on a road trip - I still worry, and ask her to text me of her arrival - she's twenty four...


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