It’s My Birthday And I’ll Bake If I Want To…
Today is my birthday, and I’m shlepping a cake into work. Yes, I’m the one bringing in my own birthday cake. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? While I never “officially” worked in the States (does camp counselor and JCC dance teacher count?), I do know (because I watch The Office), that you don’t throw your own birthday parties at work in the States. You have the PPC, the Party Planning Committee do it for you. There are balloons, cake and maybe even a speech by the boss.
Not so in Israel. The birthday girl or boy has to bring in the refreshments. There’s always the cake, sometimes there’s ice cream, and if you’re lucky, you get a present. Wait, there is a PPC. I have always been the PPC, because I’ve always been the office manager. When I wasn’t the office manager I was the only woman in the office, and the job fell to me then as well. It’s a weird custom that always throws the Anglo immigrants for a loop, but they get into the swing of it quickly enough. And when they have completely gone over to the Dark Side, and have gone totally Israeli, they do what a lot of Israelis do for their birthday, they take the day off.
I’ve been here for almost 28 years, since I was 20 (now you know how old I am), and I’m Israeli enough to bring in my own cake, but not Israeli enough to take the day off. And that’s why I’m shlepping the cake in to work today. I baked it last night, and I really enjoyed myself. I’m going to enjoy myself even more today when I treat myself to sushi for lunch. And I wonder what Ju-Boy has up his sleeve as far as presents go. I’ve already given him several hints, even suggesting that you, my dear readers, pass the hint on to him as well. Some of you actually have. This Shabbat we’re going away for the weekend with two other couples whose wives are also celebrating birthdays this week. But tonight, what I really want, is just a quiet evening at home with my Ju-Boy, maybe watching one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, which was another birthday present once upon a time.
I’m baking one of my favorite cakes, Orange Poppy Seed Cake, which is from Levana Kirschenbaum’s cookbook, Levana’s Table. The first time I saw Levana Kirschenbaum was on some obscure cooking show where some huge woman with an almost incomprehensible Jamaican accent strolled the streets of New York extolling the joys of Jewish cooking. She and Levana prepared latkes in the basement of Levana’s synagogue on the Upper West Side. The second time I saw Levana Kirschenbaum was in Zabar’s in the cheese section. I was in New York with my cousin Rivka and she introduced me. As it turns out, Rivka and Levana go to the same shul, and Levana even catered a kiddush Rivka threw to celebrate her return to good health after an illness that had the whole family worried. I mentioned the TV show to Levana and she told me she could barely understand that woman as well.
So it’s my birthday, and I’m in the office, and I’m heading in to the office with the cake. I hope they like it, and if they don’t, I do.
Levana’s Orange Poppy Seed Cake
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F.)
- To make the cake: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat until just combined.
- Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the 3/4 cup orange juice. Mix slightly after each addition, just to incorporate.
- Add the poppy seeds and mix to incorporate the seeds into the batter.
- Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch springform pan.
- Bake for 1 hour, or until the point of a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- To make the syrup: While the cake is baking, place the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan and heat until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
- When the cake is done, immediately unmold it from the springform pan. Prick it all over with a skewer and brush the syrup all over the top and sides of the cake while it is still hot. The cake will absorb all the syrup.
- Let the cake cool completely before serving.
Posted on 17 November 2010, in Birthdays, Celebrations, Citrus, Dessert, Israel and tagged Birthday cake, Cake, cooking, dessert, Israel, kosher, Levana Kirschenbaum, orange, poppy seeds, recipe. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.