baking, college, dessert, fruit, lessons learned, settlement cookbook

Short cake, with blueberry topping

Over the long weekend, my sister Lissa came to visit, and one afternoon we drove down to New Haven, CT, to visit our old college. We toured the British Art Gallery and I found time to wander around Yale’s campus with my camera, snapping photos of old haunts and sun-drenched architecture.

I don’t know how many of you feel this way about your college, but I can never visit Yale without being flooded with memories. There’s the window of the suite I lived in freshman year, where my suitemates and I sang songs and threw water balloons. Here’s the cathedral-like library, where I huddled away in the stacks and breathed in the smell of old books. This is the route I walked once or twice a week to the literary magazine where I worked for three years. Those are the carillon bells that rang out across campus at 5 each twilight afternoon when my friends and I walked to the dining hall for an early dinner. This is one of countless booths my friends and I colonized during Saturday night pizza outings.

There’s a lot of sadness wrapped up in this place for me, because of all the hard things I had to learn in college. And because my friends are now scattered across the country, and we get together once a year (at most) for weddings. People say that college can be some of the best years of your life, but they don’t tell you that once it’s over, you might need several years to get over the crushing blow of graduation.

But I’m grateful, too, for everything I learned here, both in history lectures and in the echoing corridors of my residential college. In some ways I feel like I’m still a college student, figuring things out for the first time on my own, and in some ways I feel so much older. In a good way, like I’m finally starting to settle into my place.

Lissa and I talked about how in some ways, the student body hadn’t changed at all since we were there. We ran into teams decked out in sports apparel, the fashionable girls in skinny jeans and boots, the international students wearing pea coats and college scarves. A lot of other things had stayed the same, too, from the architecture to the restaurants we loved. But we could see changes, too–a frozen yogurt place had taken over an old bookstore, a Shake Shack replaced a restaurant I didn’t remember. This place is changing and adapting, and we were, too, though we may not have even realized it at the time.

And I think it’s time to make a change around this little blog, too. In the months to come, I’ll be expanding the blog to encompass other aspects of building a simple life inspired by history. I’ll still chronicle my cooking adventures, but I’ll also explore other topics that have been on my mind. In that spirit, here’s a biscuit recipe pulled from The “Settlement” Cook Book, with a topping inspired by a much more recent cookbook, All Cakes Considered. Sometimes, a fusion of foods both past and present can be just the flavor you need.


Short Cake with Blueberry Topping
(adapted from The “Settlement” Cook Book)

for the short cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup milk

for the blueberry topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup blueberries

to make the short cake:
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until combined and the mixture resembles the texture of cornmeal. Add the milk and stir until just combined. Turn out onto a floured board and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or measuring cup. Layer one round on top of another to create a 2-layered biscuit, and place each biscuit in a buttered pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

to make the blueberry topping:
Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the blueberries into the pan and mix well to cover with sugar syrup. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. Take the mixture off the heat when most of the blueberries have broken down.

Split each biscuit in two and drizzle blueberry topping on one round, placing the plain round on top. Drizzle more blueberry sauce on top, or sprinkle with sugar.

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