I never claimed to be a good photographer. I have no eye for things, do not derive joy from capturing things in photographs and am appalled almost across the board by the results of my forays into photography. When I travel, it does not occur to me to take pictures or even to take a camera. I do not own a camera (other than rudimentary ones attached to mobile phones; virtually impossible to escape without a camera attached).
While I would like to blame my complete lack of lust for snapping pictures on my dislike of the mechanics of it, equally at fault is my nomadic nature. I like to experience once and let go of events and places. While in the moment, I am really, fully in the moment. I find that that total "presence in the present" is diminished when one is preoccupied by getting exactly the right picture. Nothing ruins the moment more for me. (This is not to say that I would not gladly repeat some events again and again; even in repeating actions, impermanence reigns and the moment disappears. Just as cakes and cookies quickly disappear.)
With cookies and cakes, I could express similar sentiments. In the early days of this blog, I slapped a few lines of explanation up with a recipe and hoped for the best. People, who are by and large visual creatures, asked for pictures. I eventually caved and supplied some (though I doubt anyone is better off for having seen them).
These jumbo cupcakes have not been done justice with me behind the shutter (not that they were beautiful to start with). I notice in particular the cupcakes topped with chopped pecans. Upon cursory glance, the pecan-on-pudding backdrop looks not unlike a random arrangement of cat food or ground beef. All I can say is something akin to what a well-meaning, second-grade teacher might preach: Don't judge a book by its cover.
The eyes will mislead and defy if given half the chance.
From where did the inspiration for this blobby mess of a cupcake spring? (On a completely unrelated tangent, I saw a beautiful deer spring across the road in front of my car and across a field late the other night. Some small, simple things like this common occurrence in the middle of the nature surrounding my house make me ever so happy.)
Years and years ago, when I was an adolescent, my parents bought a new house from some rather unusual folks. The former owner brought over this recipe (in sheet-cake form) along with a cookbook compiled by her local Kiwanis club (or something similar). The cake, oddly enough, was called "Better than Sex cake". Having no firsthand knowledge by which to judge this assertion about cake or sex, I nevertheless ate the cake but never liked it because canned pineapple, which figures prominently in this multilayered cake, can never, ever compare with the real thing (but isn't that true of so many things?).
This cake was a distant memory until recently. I became curious as to what ingredients made up this cake, so clearly named in hyperbole. Exalt this cake all you like, Kiwanis do-gooders and canned pineapple praisers — food cannot stand before sex anymore than roses can stand before thorns (thank you, William Carlos Williams, "At our age the imagination/across the sorry facts/lifts us/to make roses/stand before thorns."). Sometimes you might think it can, what with the way people react in dangerously orgasmic ways while eating. Perhaps these sensory activities go hand in hand, converging somewhere in the realm of "human appetites".
I decided to put this recipe to the test. It is fairly simple, and I trust it boasts different levels of flavor, given all the layers put together to make this concoction. But Better than Sex cake? This is a misnomer.
For the sake of keeping a long-running joke running, let's just call it "Fruity Cake".
Fruity Cake, a.k.a. Better than Sex Cake
(You can make this in cupcake form or in one rectangular 13×9-inch pan, which is much faster/easier)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs. Add half the flour mixture, then half the milk, alternately. Add vanilla. Blend batter well. Then add remaining flour, followed by the remainder of the milk. Beat batter until smooth.
Pour into a greased and floured cake pan or ladle into individual cupcakes (if using papers, put batter directly in; if putting batter directly into cupcake pans, grease and flour them first.
Bake at 350F/175C for 20-30 minutes (for whole cake), 10-15 minutes for cupcakes (turn the pan around in the oven and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes). You will know the cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out smooth. Remove. Pour warm pineapple mixture over the top of the cake/cupcakes while the cake is still warm.
Topping, layer one
15 ounces canned crushed pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
Mix crushed pineapple and sugar together on the stovetop. Pour or spoon it over warm cake (it is helpful to poke small holes in the top of the cake to ease the pineapple juice making its way into the cake). Let the cake/pineapple cool.
Once cooled, move on to layer two.
Thinly slice three bananas and arrange over the tops of the cupcakes (or cake).
Vanilla pudding or custard.
Spread the cool vanilla pudding/custard over the top of the sliced banana layer. (Be sure, if you have prepared cooked pudding, to cool the pudding or custard completely before using it on the cake.)
At this point in the process, I just sprinkled on some flaked coconut and left it. Then I added some chopped pecans to some of the cupcakes.
You could go one step further and added a layer of whipped cream over the pudding layer and then add the coconut and/or nuts. That seemed like overkill for me, especially since I was bringing them to the office and do not think anyone is particularly impressed with anything that goes above and beyond.