The Every Day Cake – a healthier yellow cake

We all love cake right? I sure do and my son Alex, aka Bubba, sure does. He’s even got an entire cake comedic routine worked out. His favorite two words involving cake are, “ ‘nother piece.” My mother, aka Spoonsei to Bubba (long story for another post), makes an incredible range of cakes that melted in my, my father, and my sister’s mouths our entire lives. Unfortunately, Spoonsei only makes cakes when there are people around to help with the chore of eating cake, e.g., upon the return of one of her children or Bubba.

It was great growing up before all the South Beach, Skinny This, Skinny That, No Fat, Low Fat, and exactly Why French Women Aren’t Fat craze sweep through the 90s. The classic Devil Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe my mother made at least once a month for seemingly my entire childhood is fabulous! It is a cake truly worth every calorie you will need to expend at the gym, on the bike, or on the yoga mat. As I mature, I now classify that type of cake as a “Special Occasion Cake.”

I got to thinking; we need a cake for less special occasions, e.g., just happy to have some cake day. Sounds like a great idea for a minor national holiday, no? So, I talked with my Mom about it. She sent over a recipe that looked like it would fit the bill. Somewhere we came up with the tag line, ” heavier healthy yellow cake.” Due to various food allergies and a quest to “healthy up” the cake, we went back and forth on email, Skype chat, and even Google Docs to nut out a recipe.

I believe the original recipe was a one-layer sheet cake. I do it as in two round 9” pans. There was more white flour, regular milk, and additional sugar. I went with more whole-wheat flour, soymilk, and added some Splenda/Equal. Sure, true cake purists will complain the whole time they are eating it, i.e., my father, but it’s still pretty good cake. Lastly, the original recipe did not whip the egg whites. I arrived at this step after cake after cake did not rise. Possibly this is due my being in a tropical climate where baking powder looses its pizzazz quicker? Maybe it’s the variable two-temperature oven my landlord provided, warm or burnt? Or perhaps it’s the heavier flour whole-wheat flour? So, if you want to omit the whipping of the egg whites, I recommend you add another teaspoon of baking power.

Dry Mix:

1 ¼ cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of white flour
½ cup sugar
⅛  cup of Splenda/Equal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
9 ounces of chocolate chips

Wet Mix 1:
3 yolks
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup soy milk

Wet Mix 2:
3 egg whites
1- 1 ½ tablespoon of icing sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line with parchment paper, two 9” cake pans.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together, expect for the chocolate chips) into bowl #1.
  3. In bowl #2 combine the Wet Mix 1 ingredients.
  4. Fold the Wet Mix 1 into bowl #1 until all ingredients are just combined.
  5. In bowl #3, whip the egg whites till foamy peaks arise from the bowl. I usually sprinkle in a little icing sugar as I am whipping. Not certain where that idea came from, possibly Spoonsei. If you’d like a video primer on whipping egg whites, click here.
  6. Now fold the whipped egg whites into blow #1.  Gently mix till the egg whites are combined.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips
  8. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans, spreading the batter out smoothly.
  9. Bake 30-35 minutes or until tops are domed and a little darker around the edges than the middle. Insert a knife or a fork into the middle and if it comes out clean of cake batter, it’s done.

Eat warm or cool from pan. It usually keeps for about four days, so eat quick. Of course, this is never a problem in Spoonsei’s house. She’s lucky if a cake lasts three days.


My Pasar Saturday – wet market in BSD

Saturday, finally! I do not know who is happier to see Friday, the students or me? Sure, I still have plenty to do, but at least it is my time. On Saturday and Sunday I get to mix in a few new threads into the stories of my week. For example, wet marketing! We live within five minutes of a fantastic local market where they have everything! I find people either love it or hate it. You go regularly or you do not? So, each Saturday morning, Bubba and I get out the door to Pasar Modern. If we get lucky, we are out  by 6:30 am and the parking is good. If we are unlucky, then we’re schlepping the bags  a lot farther. We employ a one hour strategy. We get in, get what we need, and get out. Alex would like me to point out the market does carry a distintive smell. You can read his account here.

Stop #1, flowers! Got to get the flowers for Mom. She loves seeing them every day. Alex asked me once why we buy flowers each week.  I started explaining to him the concept that if you do things that mom likes, she’s usually in a better mood. And a better mood means she’s usually more agreeable to doing things he wants to do, e.g., more computer game time. He looked at my skeptically not convinced. His comment, “seems like a lot of work.” As this is our first stop, we usually just pick out four or five bunches, tell them where we want the stems cut, we pay, and then we come back later when we are retrieving our take away noodles to pick them up.

Stop #2, fruit guys! We love these guys. Their stand is always so symetrical. Notice how all their fruit is

lined up  or stacked up neatly. They take great care and effort to make their stand look neat. Alex usually picks out two papayas and one water melon for a little fruit salad at breakie. These guys only deal in a few fruits. They don’t do bananas, apples, or mango, it’s all about the melon family & papayas for them. As our three purchases are usually pretty heavy, we come back to retrieve our fruit after the Noodle Stop.

Stop #3, veggies! We can’t get enough leafy vegetables at our table. Not only a

great source of iron, they just taste great. One our favorite weekend recipes would be Ginger Bak Choy Tofu over Whole Wheat Pasta. At this stand we stock up on Bak Choy, Spinach, Cabbage, Gai Lan, Kang Kong and Brocoli. The market has so many of these type of vegetable stands, but I like this one because three young guys run it and they seem energetic. Usually you buy in bunches of three, e.g., three small bunches of baby bak choy for 5,000 Rupiah (55 cents). And yes, I am probably paying too much, but it’s way too much fun talking to them in Bahasa.

Stop #4, Tofu! My personal favorite stop of the morning.  These three guys are very popular with the market customers. They sell blocks of tofu, small blocks of tofu, tempeh, preserved eggs, noodles, and bean sprouts. The tofu is so fresh sometimes it is actually warm. The two guys that run this stand are always happy to see me. They go out of their way to try and talk to me and even shake my hand. I think it’s a bit like,  “hey, this bole (foreigner) is shopping at our stand, check us out.” I usually buy three blocks of tofu for 7,500 Rupiah. That’s less an 1 USD. And that’s the price, I confirmed it with other customers. The tofu market is competitive here in Indonesia. Those I spoke with endorse this stand’s tofu as the tastest in the market and that’s why there is always people in front of the stand. We take it home and cut it into slabs and pan fry it in a bit of olive oil. The idea is you try to get the outer layer a little crispy for a good mouth feel when you bite into the tofu.

Stop #5, Chinese Family! I stumbled across this family over a year ago. They would be the only Mandarin speakers at the market. The mother stays behind the counter

and runs the operation while her two boys work with customers out front. The Dad is usually out and about bringing new fruit to the stand. The boys love Alex and usually give him a Mangosteen or an Orange  to snack on. They always ask about my wife and family. Turns out, they really love Hong Kong. We talked noodles and dim sum and how the flour is better in Hong Kong and the Char Sui Buns are softer. It’s always great fun as it’s the only time I get to speak Mandarin at the market. Everyone usually stops and stares at us all conversing away in Chinese. I love it.

Stop #6, Noodles! Near the end of the market run, we stop for breakie. Somedays we dine at the

noodle stand, most of the days we pack them back for everyone, Mom, Suki and Wati (our sous chefs). We get Chicken Noodles for Suki and Wati. We order, pay and then come back and pick them up later. Noodle assembly is a three man operation. There’s a guy on the noodles, one guy on adding meat and vegetables, and the third guy gets it off to the delivery staff or package for take away. Scroll to the bottom to see the Noodle Prep video.

Stop #7, Baking Center! Before we hit the baking center we schlep the bags to the car. The baking

center is a bit of a Godsend for us here in BSD City. You can get most everything you need for baking, whole wheat flour, vanilla, various varieties of chocolate, parchment paper for cookies and cakes, assorted tins for cookies, cakes, cupcakes and whatever else you want to bake, filio dough, jiaozi (dumpling) wrappers. No, you might not get the brand you know and love, but I try to model risk taking and experiment when I can. Essentially, if it relates to baking, they have it. And they sell kitchenware too. This is where I bought my K-5 Kitchenaid Mixer and my Cuisineart Ice Cream Maker. Best of all, they sell actual gas ovens that run on an external gas canister. It’s fab!

Stop #8, Noodle Pick Up! OK, so we head back through the market and grap the melons, the papayas and the flowers. Then, we snag our five packets of noodles, 70,000 Rupiah BTW and legit home. They are usually swamped, sometimes we have a cup of tea (included in the price of the noodles) or a bowl of soup broth. Yes, they sever soup broth as a side dish if you want more. I usually stop Alex at one bowl.