MLK Day Celebration Cake

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This is a blog about body positivity and feminism and food, among many other things. One of these things is anti-racism and the fight for racial justice in this country. For those of you familiar with the concept of intersectionality — we can’t study feminism and body positivity without looking at the role of race and ability, sexuality, class. The images we see of thin women are also mainly white women and heterosexual and middle-upper class women. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT. Black women and women of color have historically been treated much differently from white women (think slavery) — by medical professionals, the general public, law enforcement, teachers. They bear the brunt of both gender and racial oppression. For every 77 cents on the dollar a white woman makes compared to men in general, a black woman makes 68 cents, and a Latina woman 58 cents. Yet, women of color have played a pivotal role in the fight for gender and racial justice. But they go unnoticed, purposefully left out of the history books.

MLK day is a reminder that we continuously celebrate not just MLK but also those who have put themselves on the line to fight for racial and gender justice, in the past and today. Kids in public schools are taught about Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of what he did for this country. But figures like Malcolm X are vilified, teachers leaving out the role of the Black Panthers in the development of free school lunches and their unrelenting dedication to the cause. And women of color are entirely ignored. The “feminist movement” of the 1960s and 70s often conjures images of white women and the Civil Rights movement, images of black men. Behind those white women and black men were black women like Edda Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Daisy Bates, Pauli Murray, and Dorothy Height, just to mention a few.

This MLK day let’s make a commitment to not just celebrate them today, but continuously be reminded of the black women and other women of color who fought and are still fighting on the front lines for racial and gender justice. And let them inspire us to fight not just today, but EVERY DAY. In the words of MLK himself because this post wouldn’t be complete without a quote from him ; ) “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.”

In this spirit, I made this celebration cake. A chocolate cake and a salted penuche frosting. Penuche is usually formed into a fudge but it is lickety-split delicious as a frosting for a cake. Most recipes for penuche frosting pair it with a butter cake. However, I think the penuche with chocolate is a match made in heaven. The earthiness of the dark chocolate and cocoa powder paired with the brown sugar and butter concoction that is penuche is bliss. And the salt takes it over the top. You can leave out the salt of course but seriously everything is better with a little extra salt, am I right?

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Chocolate Cake - adapted from Bon Appetit

Cake: 
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare two 8 or 9 inch cake pans.

Combine cocoa powder and chocolate. Pour the 1/2 cup of boiling water 
over and let sit.
When mixture has cooled add oil and buttermilk. 
In another bowl, beat eggs, sugars, and vanilla.
Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture and mix to combine.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix till just combined and few lumps
remain.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.


Penuche Frosting - adapted from Food 52

1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 - 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
Stir in brown sugar and cook for two minutes stirring constantly.
Pour in milk, stir, and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and cool till just warm.
Whisk in powdered sugar till nice and smooth.

 

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