Authors in the Kitchen: Kasey Mathews

My guest today is Kasey Mathews, author of Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood. Today she shares a favorite recipe and some background for the inspiration for her book. (Hint: it's the cutie in the toque.) Learn more about Kasey and her moving memoir at her website.

When staring down at a one and a half pound baby, you don't dare to imagine what the future will hold.

Every moment is precious and terrifying.

Every breath an uncertain gift.

And yet… the mind can't help but wander, leaving behind bustling hospital wards, blaring monitors and alarms and so much fear.

Choosing instead to visit…

Sandy beaches…

Ice cream stands…

Ski slopes…

And warm kitchens with glowing candles, soft music and sweet aromas wafting from the stove.

When my tiny little girl was fighting for life in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), it was those mind wandering moments on which I built my hopes and dreams. I held on to my visions of the future and shared my "somedays" with my baby, so she would see and believe in them, too.

I am so happy to report that someday has arrived. Beaches, ice cream stands and ski slopes are no longer just dreams, but real moments I now get to share with my eleven-year-old daughter.

So is life in the kitchen. Nothing brings me more happiness than seeing Andie, and her big brother, Tucker, experimenting with a new recipe.

They ask for basic recipes, something they can remember and build on, which is why I love Alice Water's cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, both for them and for me.

Not only do we find basic go-to recipes, but we also come to understand how and why food and recipes work the way they do.

My kids love the 1-2-3-4 Cake recipe and always feel amazed and so proud that they created a wonderful cake that didn't come out of a box!

The recipe's name refers to the quantities of the cake's principle ingredients, butter, sugar, flour and eggs. It comes out light and fluffy and wonderful! Enjoy!

1-2-3-4 Cake

adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Makes two 9-inch round cakes, recipe easily doubled or cut in half

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

2 cups sugar

3 cups cake flour

1/2 tsp salt (use ¼ tsp if using salted butter)

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs (separate yolks and whites)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans (she recommends lining pans with parchment, but I don't).

3. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

4. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, add sugar and cream until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in 4 eggs yolks, one at a time. Add vanilla.

6. When well mixed, add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Mix just until the flour is incorporated.

7. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, but take care not to overbeat. Gently fold one third of the egg whites into the batter. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in; be careful not to over-mix.

8. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

Variations:

Lemon cake: Add 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice to the batter.

Orange cake: Add 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh orange zest and 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice to the batter.

Add a glaze, it may be applied while the cake is warm!