Monday 19 December 2011

Nearly, nearly

You must agree that this is the best bit of winter? Who cares about the cold, the drizzle, the wind - it's nearly Christmas, and 'nearly' is always the nicest part.

It's funny how a date on the calender has such power. Everywhere I go, everyone is happy. A mother with twins, both throwing a tantrum at the same time, would at any other time of the year be a very irate woman. But not the mother I saw yesterday. She was standing next to tinsel and sparkly lights, and it was nearly Christmas, and she was smiling. The whining would just have to be ignored till Boxing Day.

In just the last few days, I've seen a large, stoic-faced man humming jingle bells in the beer aisle. An old man smiling indulgently at a boy who nearly made him trip. A woman letting go of the last parking space to another. I've seen happy pharmacists. And polite cyclists.

It's a good time, Christmas.

It's that time of the year when you don't mind hunting for the perfect gifts and wrapping them up in pretty paper, only to have a plump, old man in red take all the credit. When you spend hours trimming, and stuffing and roasting a bird that you hate to eat. When every house lights up with blinking lights and neon wishes till your town looks like Tokyo.

I love watching people do things they wouldn't do a month before, or a month after. It's December, it's different.

I did something different too. I baked the plainest, most un-Christmassy cake that could come out of the oven on a month like this. It isn't that I'm not feeling festive enough. My three-year old already knows Ebenezer Scrooge and his visiting ghosts. And my house is dressed for the occasion. Look.

The cake was plain, because D loves plain cake. But every time, I enter the kitchen intending to bake a plain cake for him, I throw in something into the batter at the last minute, and turn in into something else - dark chocolate and pink peppercorns, prunes and sherry, apples and walnuts. It's always nearly a plain cake. I really have no discipline in the kitchen, and no control on whimsy. This time, however, I was determined to keep plain plain. I wanted to bake a cake just for D. Because for me, he's the best bit of the holidays.

So here it is, the softest, fluffiest plain cake I've ever baked. Well, actually there was some lovely sour cream in the fridge, so it's a Sour Cream Plain Cake.

But then, 'nearly' is always the nicest part.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Sour Cream Plain Cake  

Surely, this cake must be the easiest, quickest cake in the world. It doesn't follow any of the usual rules  - of mixing dry ingredients first, and then the wet. Or beating eggs into peaks. Nor does it need a fancy, electronic mixer. Just a big bowl, a wooden spoon, a few stirs, and you will have a cake that's soft and fluffy, its sweetness perfectly balanced with the tang of the sour cream, and the salt of the butter.


2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup softened, salted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1'2 cup milk

In a large bowl, crack open the eggs, add the baking powder, and beat with a fork. Then add the butter, sour cream, sugar, vanilla essence, and beat it all up with a wooden spoon. It won't look smooth yet, but don't worry.
Add the flour, and stir till smooth. Now add some milk till your batter flows smooth down your spoon in a thick, creamy stream.
Pour into a round, cake tin and slide into your preheated oven. Bake at 160 degrees C, for 45-50 minutes.


  1. Gorgeous clicks and delicious cake! Happy Holidays Pia!

  2. Pia, I was in the tube today, and a man offered me his seat. I wasn't even weighed down with any bags! It's amazing what this time of year does to people. :) Your nearly plain cake looks simply beautiful. And I wish you a very happy holiday too!

  3. I love the way you write and not "nearly love the way you write" and yet it is the best part :)

  4. When most of the food of the festive season is rich rich rich, it's sometimes really nice just to have something plain but delicious! Looks gorgeous! Emma :)

  5. Happy holidays, anuradha! :)

    Grace, I think we need a few more Christmases every year! Happy holidays to you!

    @BongMom - thank you so much for that lovely comment! Welcome to my space :)

    Thanks Emma. A Merry Christmas to you and your family! :)

  6. Hello Pia, long time! Shona na, we just got an oven for our home. For my first baking endeavour, I searched your blog and decided on this cake. This seems so easy! But first a technical query... how long do you preheat your oven?

    1. Usually about 10-15 minutes, Pratirupa; depending on how quickly your oven heats up. The preparation for this cake takes very little time, so just switch on the oven when you start gathering the ingredients, and it'll be heated by the time your batter is ready.
      Happy baking!

    2. Thanks a bunch! Will tell you how it was.. :-)


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