The best Simple White Cake Recipe

Simple White Cake Recipe

This recipe is another easy to make a cake for either everyday dessert or special occasions. It is created from scratch, but takes little time to put it together. You can bake it that afternoon and have it ready to go for an evening get together.


  • 250g (8.8 oz) of white sugar
  • 120g (4.2 oz) of butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 10ml (.33 fl oz) of vanilla extract
  • 350g (12.3 oz) of all purpose flour
  • 9g (.31 oz) of baking powder
  • 120ml (4 fl oz)of milk

Žuta patišpanja


  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Prepare a 23X23 cm pan by greasing and flouring it, or use paper liners to line a muffin pan.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium size mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. After combining the flour and baking powder, mix well into the creamed mixture.
  5.  Add the milk, stirring until the batter is smooth.
  6. Either pour or spoon the batter into the prepared pan of your choice. For a cake, bake 30 – 40 minutes at 175 degrees C.
  7. If you are making cupcakes, bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
  8. To test for doneness, touch lightly. If it springs back, it is done. Use any frosting of your choice to finish.
  9. This recipe makes 12 servings.

Simple chocolate pudding…

First things first: happy spring everyone! It’s official, t’is the season of rebirth, and I for one, am excited about it. Secondly, a bit of “spring” housekeeping, I have finally posted a couple of new pages which I hope will be helpful… 

– A new FAQ page, with various questions I have received from readers and my answers.

Now… (deep breath, it’s a long one…) 

This article written by Yoni Freedhoff, MD, called “Why is everyone giving my kids junk food?” was recently brought to my attention, and
several people have asked me (and I have been asking myself!) how I would deal
with the onslaught of junk food out there in the world towards our children,
whether at school, at birthday parties, playdates or at any other kid events
and venues. 
I have been baffled to encounter this even as early as now (Pablo is
22 months), in a toddler art class, as I shared previously. From the looks
of it, it’s going to happen a lot more in
the coming years. This is certainly a dilemma I never expected, which French
parents mostly don’t have to deal with. Without overgeneralizing, I can say
that it is widely accepted in France that you do not eat between meals or snack indiscriminately throughout the day,
that children will eat vegetables and
have a balanced diet and not eat n’importe
(An expression particularly hard to translate into English, used to
designate things done without care or attention or reason.) So French parents don’t have to have that impulse I think a lot of us have (given the response to that article, there are quite a lot of parents in this boat), to protect our children from the world and the “assault”of junk food given everywhere.  And
actually, I wouldn’t be too happy about not just junk food, but also snacks and
juices, however “healthy” they may be, given at any occasion outside of meal
times. (And I do have the somewhat convenient excuse to give to other adults in these circumstances, that being French, we don’t do that; the cultural explanation has sometimes been my easy way out, I must admit.)
The author did a good follow-up article on helpful ways to deal with the institutions or people that might be giving the junk food, which I highly recommend. And the good news is, more and more parents in the US (and perhaps other countries where this might be happening?) have objections to it, and so I think the seeds of change have been planted in that area… 

That said, how will I deal with this, with Pablo, in the coming years?

Well… I’ve decided I’m going to do my very best to trust him.

The fact is, our children don’t live in a bubble. They will
be confronted with all kinds of undesirables throughout their childhood and life, that are
out of our control, whether it’s the food they’re offered, or the entertainment
they’re offered, or disrespectful children and adults they may encounter…
That’s life, isn’t it? 

We can’t remove all the undesirables. But we can prepare them to deal with them (and potentially learn from them). We can’t fight all of our children’s battles for them. And I don’t
think that we should. My goal is to raise a resilient human being, who feels
capable of sound judgment, capable of going through the process of dealing with
the world, capable of developing a filter, his own filter, before doing
something. And as hard as it can sometimes be for me, I am committed to let my
child experience trial and error. I feel I would otherwise be robbing him of a valuable learning opportunity.

BUT… we can lay the groundwork.

The first couple of years of life are so crucial this way
(though I do believe you can do it with older children or adults too, it’s
never too late, perhaps just a little bit more challenging). And so here are some of the things we are doing now, and have been doing ever since we begun this journey of Pablo’s education of taste, which will hopefully help him make better decisions later on.

1. Nurture his ability to listen to his own body

I find this fascinating about babies and toddlers. This is an ability I envy
very much, and which I’m relearning with my son. As a teenager, I definitely
went into emotional eating to fill some voids and gaps in my life, and it’s
taken years (still a work in progress) to become attuned to my body again and
regain a healthy relationship with food. Young children do know how to listen
to their body. And I am convinced that if we provide the right environment or
context to nurture that ability, it will grow and stay with them. They know
when they’ve had enough to eat. Basically young children can hear their body
loud and clear, provided there is no
from us. They even know what
foods their body needs. And
we want them to keep listening – to themselves. That’s why I steer away from
any emotional association to food (no, “one last bite to please mommy”, no
“come have a cookie to make you feel better”, no “no dessert if you don’t
behave”, you get the idea…) If he lets me know he no longer wants to eat, I
comply. I also let him feed himself as much as possible, so he knows he is in charge of his intake.

I have found that the 4 meals a day structure with no
additional, on demand snacks, as well as eating slowly and in courses teaches delayed gratification. And it helps
differentiate between the “desire to eat” vs. actual hunger.  If we give a snack to a child every time he
“feels like eating”, whether truly hungry or not, they don’t get to really sense hunger (I’m talking reasonable
hunger here, not starvation obviously.) Just before mealtime, Pablo is
definitely hungry (which is why he eats so well, and gobbles with amazing
appetite his watercress soup and boiled leeks in vinaigrette under my proud eye
;-)) He has an awareness of his body
telling him it needs some nourishment. The experience of that bodily sensation, in part due to delayed gratification, I think contributes to keeping this symbiotic
relationship between mind and body. (I have actually experienced this myself as an adult.)

2. Prevent emotional eating later on

In a much broader sense,
insuring a healthy secure attachment to our children (I found much wisdom in author Daniel Siegel’s work, as well as in RIE and Janet Lansbury’s work in that area) also makes it possible for
them to listen to their body, to learn from the world, and develop a sound body
and mind.  I found in my own experience, that emotional eating can come from a void in that area. And attachment issues certainly have been known to affect a child’s way of dealing with peer pressure, which can come into play when it comes to eating junk food.
Ideally, food isn’t a tool, a means,
emotionally speaking. For reassurance, for comfort. Yes, it a means of
nourishment obviously, but I think it should be considered an end in itself. This way, it is separate from other activities,
which we do also as ends in themselves (more on this here). We eat because
it is a pleasurable experience and an opportunity to connect with our loved ones.

3. Avoid GUILT like the plague

One  instance where I have seen older children “binge”
on sweets or junk foods at parties, is because they feel they should do it
while they can, as a product of frustration. And then the whole guilt
vicious circle kicks in, which tends to stay with us through adulthood. I have
talked about this telling study I read in Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything of most
Americans’ response to the picture of a chocolate cake, vs. most French
people’s reaction: Americans think “calories” and “guilt”, the French think
“pleasure”, “celebration”. I find this so
revealing.  Nothing like guilt and
dieting to make you want to inhale a whole chocolate cake or pint of ice
The French tend to talk much
more about a balanced diet, than a healthy diet, they talk about “paying attention” to what they eat, vs.
dieting or self-depriving.
French children definitely enjoy sweets or savory treats, and mostly, I
think they do so guilt-free. Snack time (430p ish) is usually the opportunity
to have a sweet treat, for example, a piece of cake, a pastry even, something
of their choice usually. It makes those treats, in moderation, commonplace, no big deal, not something to pine for
and gorge on at the first opportunity. A lot of French families bake together
with children on weekends, and the cake is kept for snack time, creating a
wonderful sense of anticipation, and creating a pleasurable experience.

French would also let their kids have things like a few pieces of candy, French
fries, some potato chips or cheese crackers, a soda or juice, on special occasions, on vacations, for the occasional apéritif (pre-dinner snacks and drinks usually offered to guests at a dinner party, to munch on before sitting at the dinner table.) So instead of creating guilt around those things, they create a sense of
pleasure, celebration, and moderation at the same time. A sense that these
things are special, to be enjoyed
thoroughly – which is a nice little lesson in the enjoyment of the present
moment as well. Guilt-free.

That will absolutely be my strategy with Pablo, while emphasizing
enjoyment, the “special” factor, moderation, the need for balance. I don’t want to instill in Pablo a sense of guilt every time he has, or wants a “treat”. The fact is, there are times where we all feel like eating something, even though we may not be hungry. Denying that is futile. Acknowledgement, enjoyment and moderation are key.

4. Explain it to him

That each family has their way, that we don’t snack
indiscriminately so we better enjoy meals together. I have done this already. At 20 months,
he understood that we didn’t eat the popcorn offered in art class because we’re
going to eat lunch soon, and it’s going to be delicious and we don’t want to
spoil our appetite. Basically, let’s wait
for something better.
(And I guess a prerequisite for that, is that lunch is in fact better, i.e. that we eat
well, things that are really good and enjoyable and flavorful. That argument
might be less convincing if we were going home to eat boiled broccoli with dry
chicken.) Which brings me to my next point…

5. Show him how good, good food can be

Meaning, cooking delicious meals, making the food taste
good. And this is a commitment, for sure. A lot of people have told me they
just don’t have the time, and absolutely, this is a significant time, and to a certain
extent, financial commitment: to buy quality products, variety, to spend the
time to cook them in different ways.

6. Be a model

Really, this is the most important way in which our children
learn anything. They’re watching us, all the time. If we snack all throughout
the day, yoyo diet, binge on junk food and then deprive ourselves of
everything  (all things I have done in
the past, before I had Pablo), then that’s the model we give our children. In
our family, we have really found a balance which I’m happy with as a model for
Pablo:  we eat well during mealtimes, do not eat
between meals, we rarely have junk food, we splurge on little treats once in a
while, in moderation, and this guilt-free, thoroughly enjoyable way to eat has,
quite simply, improved the quality of our life.

Well, if you’ve made this far into the post (sorry, it’s a bear!) you deserve a sweet treat… (Oh, sorry, we don’t use food as rewards, forget that then ;-)) I have recently made chocolate pudding for Pablo’s “goûter”, inspired by a type of pudding I used to love as a child in France, named Danette (a household brand name in France). You have gathered, I’m sure, from some of these images, that Pablo enjoyed it thoroughly!

This is very easy to make, and incidentally, it has the same
quantity of sugar as a fruit compote, if not a little less. Chocolate has many
health benefits as well (cocoa is high in magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron…), and French children eat it in
moderation, guilt-free, especially at snack time.

Chocolate pudding (homemade “Danette”)

Serves 6

Prep time: 10 mn (+ rest time in the fridge 2 hrs or more)
Cook time: 5 mn

Age for babies: 12 months and up

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup organic cocoa powder (unsweetened, non-alkaline)

In a pan (but not over heat yet), combine the flour, sugar and cocoa powder. Incorporate the cold milk, whisking vigorously (still no heat). Now turn on heat on medium and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. As soon as it boils, remove from heat, and keep stirring, until thicker (it comes to the consistency of yogurt, or maybe a little bit less thick). 

Place in individual ramekins or a larger bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Stir before serving. (It can keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.)

I served it to Pablo (I had some too!) with a couple of Petit Beurre cookies (basically simple butter biscuits).

Making bread over the campfire

Why does food taste so much better when cooked – and savored
– outside? The American part of my soul loves camping, for the outdoors, the beauty
of nature, the escape from civilization. But also because of the food.

Camping is one of the rare times I indulge in bacon…
French toast and fried egg…

Somehow when camping, life becomes
simple again. Life slows down. For a couple of days, life becomes about
sleeping, eating, enjoying and savoring the moment, absorbing the surroundings,
being in touch with nature. The basics of life, really. The things that make
you feel grounded, and tend to get diminished by the rat race of 21st
century life. Perhaps it is because we are (willingly) forced into this contemplative state
that our senses are enhanced and we can enjoy the food, the process of cooking
and enjoying it, so much more, it seems.

These are the things I was so excited
to share with Pablo on this camping trip to the SequoiaNational Forest,
and he had a wonderful time, though it is the natural state of a toddler:
being in the moment, absorbing the surroundings, his life being about sleeping,
eating and enjoying. Is this what the essence of childhood is?  I suppose it
makes sense he was a natural at camping then… He was probably thinking of me all
frantic to get organized and packed and in
a hurry to go slow down
in the woods, thinking to himself, “Of course that’s
what life is about.” We have so much to learn from our children. We are forced to outgrow this state, to then grow to seek
and rediscover it. Life is all about cycles, isn’t it?

This longing to “get back to the basics”, to the
simplicities of life, must explain why I was so excited when our dear friend D
mentioned she and her ex-husband used to make
bread while camping. Making bread. Just
saying it makes me feel grounded. Over the campfire!  The pioneers from the Lewis & Clark expedition come to mind. I feel the
dough in my fingers. I smell the smoke and heat from the fire.

has a way of connecting and reconnecting people, and it’s exactly what it did
here. D contacted her estranged ex-husband to obtain the bread recipe, and they
were able to reminisce about the good memories around that bread and find
closure in acknowledging these happy times together. I love how food touches
our lives this way, as a symbol, as a token, as the companion to the ups and
downs of life. When Pablo gets a bit older, I will love telling him that story,
it’ll make the bread taste that much better. That’s one part of the education of
taste: to us, that bread will always have a tinge of healing and joy in its
flavor. Recipes get passed from lives to lives, like happy ghosts
of nostalgia, carrying our journeys, spreading them like ashes, feeding the soil for new growth.

For a simple and nutritional lunch open-faced sandwich
(called “tartine” in French), I used a wonderful Tomato Jam made last week, some
mozzarella and avocado…

Even if you don’t go camping, you can make this bread over a
fire on the beach, or on the barbecue at the park! It tastes like a scrumptious
American biscuit, and a bite out of it might just make you feel like the pioneers
who helped build this country – à propos for a July 4th!

Tomato, mozzarella & avocado tartine, on Bannock
camp-cooked bread

Bread recipe from Bradford Angier

Age: 12 months and up – because the tomato jam contains
honey, mostly. Note that the kids can help mix the dough with the water in the
plastic bag, always fun and sensory! It’s a balanced lunch sandwich with
vegetables (tomatoes, onions), starch (bread), dairy and protein (mozzarella),
and good fats (avocado)!

Makes 4 servings

2 cups of organic flour

2 tsp of double action baking powder

½ tsp of salt

6 tbsp of butter

4 tbsp of dry milk

Water, as necessary to obtain desired consistency

At home, mix in bowl the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut
up the softened butter and mix it in with the dry ingredients – the easiest for
me was to do this with my hands, until you get a coarse meal. Then add the dry
milk.  Pour the mix in a plastic bag.

In camp, stir mix lightly, and add water, a little bit at a
time, to obtain a dough that’s not too liquid. Put in a greased pan, cover with
foil and cook over campfire over low to moderate heat. It took ours about 1
hour.  Check it often, turn it over when
the bottom part is golden brown. Either eat right away, or if you intend to
keep it for the next day, store it in a plastic bag.


Fresh mozzarella

Salt & pepper to taste

Melt the mozzarella in a pan. Spread some avocado on the
bread, add some tomato jam, and pour the mozzarella on top. You can add some
more tomato jam if you’d like. Enjoy!

PS: Just added “Bread” to the food sign list, check it out!

Weathering life, one simple soup at a time

In truth, I can’t begin to describe the turmoils our lives are currently in. Remnants of previous turmoils, and new turmoils, waves of them, which I weather the best I can. Amidst angst and chaos, I have found myself at a loss for words in this space. This holiday week, I so wish I was coming to you with profound words and an elaborate scrumptious dish worthy of the greatness of love and life.

Yet humbly, all I can bring to this virtual table, is a few sparks of joy that have grounded me, made me remember to be grateful for love and life. And a simple soup to warm the soul.

Today, I feel grateful for…

… the overwhelming generosity and support of friends and family who truly care
… a dinner interrupted for a dance with my son
… this post by lovely Shanna, so true and inspiring
… the San Gabriel mountains, serene arms enveloping and watching over us in our new home
… a glimpse of Pablo’s curls with the sun shining through, and his smile too
… your interest, patience, encouragements, comments & support
… every single challenge parenting has brought into my life
… our meals, pillars of our family life
… the warmth of our family’s Thanksgiving celebration (I am making this casserole, and these rolls)
… screams of joy at the sight of the first Christmas lights
… the ability to know and share myself, to love and be vulnerable…

Pablo and I have the great fortune to be going to visit friends in Paris for a couple of weeks in December, a much needed break that is as highly anticipated as it was unexpected. I look forward to sharing with you (here, on Facebook and Instagram) the inescapable good food experiences it will entail…

May you have a joyful Thanksgiving, may your souls feel as nourished and full as your bellies…

Pumpkin celeriac soup (cardamom infused coconut milk base)

Prep time 20 min
Cook time: 50 min

Age for babies: 6 months + (coconut milk can be replaced with vegetable broth, milk – formula or breast – can be added in at the end for texture. Can be a soup or a puree).

1 small sugar pie pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
1 medium celery root
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
4-5 pods of cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half. Scoop the seeds and strings out.
Place face down in a baking dish, add 1/4 inch of water. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until very tender.

Meanwhile, peel the celery root, cut it up in small pieces. Place in a pan with the coconut milk and cardamom pods – which you can place in a little cloth bag if you have one so you can remove them easily when the celery is cooked, or as I did, you can just fish for them after :-).
Cover, bring to a light boil and simmer for 20 min or so, until the celery is very soft and ready to be pureed.

Remove the cardamom pods. When the pumpkin is ready, scoop out the meat into a blender. Add the salt, celery root in coconut milk and blend until very smooth, adding a few tablespoons of hot water to obtain your preferred consistency.

We ate it with these apple Gruyere muffins. A comforting meal indeed.

Simple butternut squash ravioli

I finally got around to use the half butternut squash that has been in my fridge for the past month or so. I decided to make some ravioli. Last time i did pasta I found it easier than I remembered so I give it a try and tried again. And it actually ended up being pretty fast. It took me about 40 min to do the ravioli which is not that bad.
This recipe is called “simple butternut squash ravioli” because I didn’t use the traditional recipes that includes mostrada and amaretti. Theoretically the addition of those two ingredients is fundamental to get real “tortelli di zucca”, but they are quite difficult to find over here, so this time I tried this version with no mostarda or amaretti, and have to say they turn out pretty well anyway!

Simple butternut squash ravioli


  • Filling
  • -half butternut squash
  • -2 oz. parmesan
  • -sage
  • -nutmeg
  • -pepper
  • -salt
  • Pasta
  • -3.5 oz. flour
  • -1 egg
  • -1 spoon EVOO
  • -salt
  • Sauce
  • -butter
  • -sage
  • -grated parmesan
  • -garlic (optional)


  1. First I cut up the butternut squash, wrapped it in aluminum foil and placed it in the oven at 400F. While the squash was roasting, I prepared the pasta. I mixed 1 egg with 3.5 oz of flour a pinch of salt and a spoon of oil in the food processor. When the pasta was well kneaded I placed under a cup to rest. I then started working on the filling. I blended the butternut squash with parmesan, salt, pepper, sage and nutmeg. Finally, using my pasta maker, I rolled the pasta out into two long strips of pasta. I placed a strip of pasta over my ravioli maker and filled the holes with the butternut squash filling. I then bent the rest of the pasta strip over the half ravioli and then pressed a pin roll to seal the ravioli. Finally, I took the ravioli out of the ravioli maker and placed them on a abundantly floured wooden tray. If you don’t have a ravioli maker use a pasty cutter or a knife to cut the ravioli.
  2. Cook the ravioli as usual in simmering water (if the boil is too strong they will break) and dress them simply with grated parmesan and browned butter in which you have roasted some sage and possibly a whole garlic clove.