A couple of months ago, X started getting boxes in the mail from my mother. Lots of boxes. Inside were my books from childhood. She had saved them all and I am so grateful for that (and for her sending them on to share with the Kid). Opening the boxes and finding some of my favorite books inside was like being reunited with old friends. Old friends that I couldn't wait to introduce to my son.
One such friend was Panda Cake by Rosalie Seidler. It's about Willy the Panda and his little brother who are charged with buying the ingredients for their mother's special Panda Cake. Willy, being older and *ahem* wiser, decides to take the ingredients they stumble upon and uses the money their mother gave them to go to the fair. He sends his little brother home with a basket of purloined provisions. I don't want to spoil the ending but let's just say that Willy's mom is faced with some angry neighbors and Willy misses out on some good cake. I can remember reading this book as a child and really wanting to make a Panda Cake to share with my friends. So that's just what the Kid and I decided to do when we read this book together recently.
Now, the original Panda Cake calls for apples, roots, berries, cherries, eggs, honey, and bamboo shoots. We managed to stay true to most of the original ingredients, including the roots (we used ginger which I thought was a pretty clever solution) but just couldn't tackle the bamboo shoots. So, here's our bamboo shoot-free version.
makes 1 dozen cupcakes*
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1/4 of one large Fuji apple, cored, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon candied ginger, minced fine
- 12 large pitted cherries
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup honey
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin pan by placing cupcake liners in each muffin cup.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients reserving 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, break egg and beat lightly. Add orange juice, oil, honey, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and use a spatula to stir the mixture together, scraping the bottom of the bowl once in awhile to make sure it is well combined. Wash the blueberries and pat dry before folding them, along with the chopped apple and minced candied ginger, into the batter. Use an ice cream scooper to add the batter to each of the muffin cups. Top each with one cherry. Bake in the oven 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of one cupcake comes out clean.
While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the honey glaze. Heat butter, honey, and the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar in a small saucepan until brown sugar is melted and the mixture comes to a slow boil. Remove from the burner and allow it to cool slightly before spooning a small amount over each of the cupcakes.
*You could also bake this as a traditional cake. I'd bake it in a 9 or 10 inch round cake pan and put the cherries in first (like a pineapple upside cake) before pouring the batter in and baking at 350 degrees F. I would guess that baking time would be around 35 minutes, depending on your oven.