My Funny Valentine - a cake not meant for the date despite all the red in the shoot
We don't celebrate Valentine's day in this household, never have, not even when we started dating. We even have a standing private joke about the first Valentine we did not celebrate. It's one of those dates that to me seem quite irrelevant, quite american, quite consumeristic - is that even a word? Man, I'm SO good at inventing words!! - and based solely on the spending of money. As I hardly ever have any money at all, I don't spend it on dates that really seem so empty to me.
It's not that I'm not a romantic person - weeeeell... I'm not very romantic per se, though I do love a good love story! - I just don't see the need to celebrate love in one specific day, I think it must be celebrated every single day, not with grand gestures, or copious amounts of money spent, nor the lavishing of one's better half in gifts and expensive items, I feel that love, to be properly celebrated, needs to be celebrated daily, in the little things, the little gestures, and this is just my opinion, mind you. The fact that someone showers me with I don't know how many roses and a box of chocolates and some expensive piece of jewelry does not mean in my eyes that this person loves me oh so much.
I find more meaning in the fact that my husband pulls my leg to him whenever we're on the sofa and I'm lying down so he can rub my feet than if he came home with a bunch of flowers. Those whither and die within a few days and I'm allergic to them, the foot massage goes on every evening on the couch, as well as the gently stroking of my hair when we're in bed before he turns over and goes to sleep. That to me is what love is all about, that to me is the real celebration of love. Those little things that to some may sound like mere routine, those tiny gestures that to some might go unseen, but that to me speak of love and devotion and loyalty. Togetherness, in the end. Because love is actually so much more than those early throes of passion!
The fact that I bake a cake - with not much sugar in it as he cannot overdo sugar - whenever I notice the previous one has all been eaten, because I know my husband likes to have a slice of cake in the evenings, the fact that I go grab a pack of milk from the pantry and leave the already open one in the fridge for him because I know he prefers his milk very cold, the fact I close our bedroom doors on Sunday mornings when I'm up with our son so the light and the noise do not reach my husband and he can sleep a little longer, that to me is the celebration of love, everyday, in these little things. These seemingly insignificant moments of routine and domesticity, contrary to a dinner date at an expensive restaurant, or a glamourous new watch, a bottle of french perfume. Those are mere things. Love is so much more than the things one gives and receives, love is giving and receiving of the souls.
So I don't celebrate Valentine's day, but that does not mean you shouldn't, it doesn't mean it's lame to. No way. I just feel that nowadays these kinds of dates are supposed to make up for all the other days, those when one doesn't kiss one's love goodnight before turning out the lights, those when one goes to bed angry with each other, those when one simply ignores the other all week long because one's stressed and overworked, those when one doesn't lend a helping hand or doesn't even bother to say I love you because well, the other person must know it, those when one acts as if one couldn't care less. And then one gets to make up for all those days with Valentine's day and the gifts and flowers and dates and jewelry and perfumes, and all the rest will be forgiven and forgotten as if it doens't really matter. I find that most people do use this date just like that, and it's a sham.
But Valentine's day happens to be on a Sunday this year, and at this home, #onsundayswebake so there's bound to be cake o a Sunday, even if it's Valentine's day and I shy from celebrating such things! Still, when I decided to use the currant jelly I still had on the freezer to drizzle over this cake, its sparkling red candylike colour seemed to beg for red props, red being that particular colour mostly associated to Valentine's day. Quite unaware of it, I went around the house gathering red items that I could then style my shoot around - a red and gold silk quilt as background, a red and gold tablemat, a candy red cake trey, red champagne flutes. The whole of the idea begged for red, and I went with my mind.
It was not until I had it all propped up and set to shoot that my son looked over and said it looked like a proper Valentine's day vignette. As I looked on, I did realize it called out to the date, all that red, and the flutes, somewhere between the romantic and the lavish, and so I decided to just give in and call it My Funny Valentine cake, and assume I had baked a cake for our family Valentine, because mostly bake a cake is what I do, is how I show them I do love them. That hasn't changed in all these years, that my token of appreciation for others stands deeply rooted on what I cook for them, what I make with my own hands to show others how I care for them. I may not be the best person in the world in telling people they are in my heart, but I will certainly cook or make something for them in order to let them know.
So here it is, my funny Valentine cake, and for it you'll need:
- 200 gr flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 200 gr butter, slightly melted
- 4 eggs
- 150 gr sugar
- half a teacup dry cranberries
- créme de cassis
- currant or strawberry or raspberry jelly to drizzle over - a red jelly, nevermind the flavour
- a drizzle of vanilla extract