Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Red tape

Speaking of needless complication….

I think I have neglected to point out that, in buying a house, we are also not in Kansas anymore, but have moved across the Big Muddy to Missouri. Although keenly observant readers may have noticed that the blog subheader has recently changed to reflect this. (It was really just to stop the Wizard of Oz jokes. The house was gravy.)

I am working my way through a very long list of notifications of change of address and other relevant information to people and companies scattered across three states and three continents, and late last week I arrived at the onerous task of switching the car’s registration from the old to the new state.

Now, I’m guessing that people move across the KS/MO state line a lot. Probably more than the average state line, given that it runs right through the heart of downtown Kansas City (on the aptly named State Line Road, where yes, you can switch states just by crossing the street). Given this, you might think that the respective state governments would want to simplify the administrative processes involved, to make life easier for themselves and their law-abiding residents. Especially anything to do with cars, given that everyone here has one, and most households have more than one.

You might think that. But then you, like me, would be hopelessly naïve. Because even though every one of the 50 American states possesses its own unique identity and character, DMVs across this great nation are apparently all the same—that is, dedicated to making sure nothing is ever simple. Just getting new plates on my car has already involved multiple phone calls to the Kansas and Missouri DMVs, my insurance agent, my car loan company, and my sister (just moral support and venting on that last one), plus special trips to the county assessor’s office and the post office. And I’m not done yet. This may end up rivaling the Australian visa application process for sheer bureaucratic obtuseness.

Ah, another reason to hide out in the kitchen. Luckily the bureaucrats haven't managed to complicate everything—yet.

Sponge cake with jam
Every year in February, my mother would make a gold layer cake, fill the layers with whatever red jam she had handy, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar, and serve it as George Washington Cake. Then I moved to England, and found almost the same recipe (with whipped cream as well as jam between the layers) presented as a Victoria sponge. Whatever your governmental allegiances (or even if you're leaning towards bureaucracy-induced NWO paranoia), it is a simple and delicious cake, and an excellent way to show off any extra-special jam you’ve got hanging around. I found raspberries on sale on Saturday; made a batch of skillet jam on Sunday; and baked a small sponge cake today for just that reason.

4 oz/120g/1 stick butter, softened
4 oz/120 g sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
4 oz/120g cake flour
1 tsp/5 g baking powder
½ tsp/3 g salt
1 oz/30 ml milk
1 tsp/5 ml vanilla
½ cup jam
3-4 Tbsp confectioner’s/icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour a cake pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light, pausing to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Add eggs, beating into mixture until fully combined.

Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Mix milk and vanilla in a small jug.

Alternate adding portions of wet and dry mixtures to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, beating continuously and scraping the bowl as necessary.

Scoop mixture into prepared tin and smooth out so that tin is evenly filled. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned, rotating tin halfway through.

Allow cake to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cooling rack and cool thoroughly.

Split cake horizontally and fill with jam. Sandwich back together and dust top with sugar. Try not to eat all in one sitting while you contemplate how to get off the grid.

Makes one layer; double or triple as necessary for size of cake desired.


countryfriedmama said... Best Blogger Tips

I might have to make this cake this afternoon. I am entering my annual battle with my local DMV to get my car tags renewed. It makes me want to hurt someone. So let's just eat the cake instead. Far less frustrating. And cheaper. Mmmm.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Not to mention quicker and waaaay more delicious. And, if you decide you want to share, maybe you could save some with which to bribe some unsuspecting DMV employee? Or perhaps they're incorruptible. Or (more likely) just unworthy.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Ok, I'm not observant enough, I didn't notice the move to Missouri! Hope you're enjoying the new state! Lovely sponge cake.. :)

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Celia, I love almost everything about Missouri *other* than the DMV. And I bet you've got more extra-special jam around than anyone else I know!

CReader said... Best Blogger Tips

Your blog is wonderful--I've just stumbled up on it and have been enjoying reading back through older posts. How is the Pepsi detox going (and congrats for undertaking it!)?

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

CReader - thanks so much for reading, and for your comment! Pepsi detox is going great--coming up on two months and I don't even miss it anymore!

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