In my last post, I discussed the lack of food references in The Great Gatsby, and relied on some historical menus to give me a sense of what West Eggers would have eaten at Gatsby’s lavish parties. In the course of completing that post, I got inspired to create one of the few food items that is mentioned in the book–Daisy’s favorite desert: lemon cake.
Originally I had not planned to cook anything for this post, so when lemon cake inspiration hit, I went with a simple mug version that I could make with the ingredients I already had on hand (which, I figured out later, are pretty much the same ingredients for a full on cake, so I guess if I’d had a little more patience I could have made that instead).
I borrowed my recipe for Lemon Mug Cake from here, with just a few swaps: I used almond milk rather than cow’s milk, olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. (This last swap turned out to be a bit of a mistake–more on that later). I also added a TON of lemon zest, almost a tablespoon and a half. The recipe doesn’t specify an amount, so I just went for it–I wanted this thing as lemony as I could get it.
I put the ingredients in a ramekin (oh, another swap!) and whisked them up. The whole thing came together in about 5 minutes, and that includes getting the inspiration to make this recipe in the first place–super easy. I popped the cake in the microwave for about a minute, then added about 45 seconds on until the top of the cake was dry.
I could smell the lemon when I pulled the cake out of the microwave, but I could also tell that my texture wasn’t exactly the light and fluffy cake the recipe’s picture had me expecting. My first taste confirmed it–this cake was dense. A quick internet search revealed that my whole wheat flour swap was likely the culprit. While the taste wasn’t affected at all, I think next time I would strive for a lighter texture by either using the traditional all purpose, or going with half and half.
Frankly, I think it is likely that Daisy would have turned her nose up at this cake (who am I kidding, Gatsby would never have let her see it, he was too concerned with everything being perfect). That said, if you find yourself wanting a taste of Daisy Buchanan’s favorite dessert, this is a quick and easy way to satisfy your urge. Just watch out for that whole wheat flour!