The Simple Joys of Baking Cake

Nonfiction by Nadja Maril

Orange cake slice

I taught myself to bake during childhood. First it was the store-bought brownie mix. Add water and eggs. Then it was the discovery of sweet icing spread between layers of moist cake. The smooth stripe of glossy chocolate within each triangle slice.

The photo accompanying the magazine recipe for Lady Baltimore Cake seduced me. I crooned as I gathered the ingredients. Begin with yellow cake mix, add grated orange peel, real butter and six eggs. Cover with a sweet and sour orange juice glaze and decorate with candied tangerine segments.

Too beautiful to cut, my parents said, but eat it we must. Shared with guests, I bask in the glory of my accomplishment.  

Years later, I look for the recipe. The name I remember is associated with an entirely different dessert.  Figs, raisins and pecans divide layers of sponge cake lavishly covered with vanilla cream frosting first said to be served in the city of Charleston.

I create my own dessert. A fusion of old and new. Candied pecans plus oranges. Tart red cranberries replace the raisins. Powdery substances mixed into liquid when heated still create a miracle. The sweet bread of life we call cake.

Nadja Maril is a former magazine editor and journalist living in Annapolis, Maryland who loves long walks and dancing. Creating new recipes with homegrown ingredients soothes her when the day gets tough. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Program at USM and her short stories and essays have been published in dozens of publications including: Defunkt Magazine, Invisible City Literary Review, and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. She is currently working on a novel and additional credits include weekly blogposts at  Follow her on twitter at SN Maril.

Photo by utroja0

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