As I get older, the ties to home fade and today I learned that my kitty Ishtar has passed away. I’m so, so, so sad. She was a skittish cat, but she loved me and felt safe with me. I was the only one who could pick her up. When I arrived home she would show up outside my window and meow to be let in. From that moment until I left to go back, she would stay in my room, purring on my bed, sleeping right in the crook of my arm. My mom would say, ‘As soon as she hears your voice, she comes running to the door.’
It’s hard for me to do much today and it’s hard to write or read, so I made a cake for Ishtar. The most beautiful and spectacular cake I could make to celebrate her life.
And red wine and baking in a warm kitchen on a cold winter day is such a perfect combination that I decided to make a:
The recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman. The cookbook calls for a three-layer filled cake and since I don’t have the pans or 20 friends, I divided the measurements by three to make a small cake. But YOU don’t have to do it because the online version on the blog does it for you here. I love Deb Perlman’s recipes and this is such a good blog, full of recipes and stories.
I had most of the ingredients, but I needed the wine and had run out of baking soda. (Baking soda is great for cleaning the caulk in the bathroom.) So I went to the Persian bodega around the corner from my place and I found this on the shelf next to a large selection of table salt:
I asked the guy if it was sodium bicarbonate and he looked at the box for a long time and finally said, “It’s food soda.”
“I’ll take it,” I said.
The cake was easy to make and I listened to a dramatic reading of the Illiad on Radio 4 and while it was cooling, I got busy making the decorations for the cake.
I only started making cakes a couple of years ago when I met Davide and I’ve never decorated a cake. The great thing about beautiful cakes is that they can’t be precious. It’s funny how you can spend so much time making a cake beautiful when the whole point of the cake is that you eat it. A cake only lasts for a specific amount of time and making one feels like the perfect and most appropriate way to celebrate my loved one, Ishtar.
So this is what I did:
I printed out some pictures of Ishtar and drew some letters on coloured card stock, cut them all out and taped them to toothpicks.
I also got some gorgeous edible gold pearls from the Persians.
And finally, voila!
So when Davide comes home tonight, he’ll have Red Wine Ishtar Cake waiting for him and we’ll eat it and celebrate Ishtar and remember her.