Friday, October 28, 2016

November Cakes Inspired by Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races

Have you ever had the feeling that you're being followed? I have. All of the time.

Specifically, I always feel that I'm being followed by books. I'll go months with a single book stalking me. It shows up in my Goodreads feed, in ads in the sidebars of all the website I visit, in the window of my local Barnes and Noble. People who follow me tweet me about it, and people I follow review it. Everywhere I turn I see the book and I know there is no escape.

My most most recent experience with this was The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It would not stop following me, so I finally took the time to look it up. I found out it was about the racing of magical, ferocious, deadly-fast water horses and I knew we were destined to be.

The Scorpio Races. It happens ever November. The men of Thisby gallop their water horses along the beach, trying to make it across the finish line without losing control and being drowned by their steeds.

Sean Kendrick, a boy of 19, has won the races four years on a water horse that is owned by another but can only be controlled by him. He speaks little and keeps his thoughts close. He has one goal and means to focus all he has on attaining it: One day he means to own the horse that he has won so many races on. This year may be his chance.

Puck Connolly has no interest in water horses or the Scorpio Races: If it weren’t for those two things, her parents might still be alive. But fate doesn’t seem to care about her opinion: Either she rides in and wins the Scorpio Races or she loses their house, her horse, and at least one of her brothers.

So she enters the competition and becomes the first girl to ride in the Races….And the only person to ride it on a normal horse.

Some riders will survive. Some riders will die. Both Puck and Sean are aiming far higher than that. They mean to win, but only one of them can seize the title.

This is one of the more brilliant novels I've read this year. Maggie Stiefvater's writing made me stare at her creation and think, "THIS. This is how writing should be." Strong, beautiful, thought-provoking. 

Her character development is amazing, the sibling relationships portrayed in an accurate and sweet way, the world-building perfect, the man-eating water horses both fascinating and frightening, and the prose intensely energetic and vivid. If you want to read my full review of this novel (which you really should, since I have a lot more to say about this book, but can't fit it all here), then you can check out my review on Constant Collectible, a geek website I write for. 

You know what else I really loved about this book? The food. More precisely: The November cakes. 
Described as small, warm cakes dripping with honey, every time they were mentioned I ended up getting hungry. If you've read this book, you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

I set out to make these delicious-sounding November cakes and discovered that the author herself actually developed a recipe for them. But, after looking over the recipe, I decided that I didn't want to  use it because 1) It used yeast, and I'm too impatient for that 2) It had too much sugar for my taste (They still look amazing, though).

So here's me making Puck proud by my rebellious ways and making my version of November cakes: 
November Cakes Inspired by Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races

Ingredients for the cake: 
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cinnamon goes in everything. I know I say this every time I do a recipe, but seriously. Cinnamon. Use it. I'm just going to keep repeating this until I brainwash you all into my love of this amazing spice. 
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of rice milk (or regular milk, if you drink that stuff. I'm not judging, but...EW.)
  • Zest from one medium orange 
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Say hello to my little friend:
     I recently discovered Mexican vanilla and have been putting it in everything. It's amazing. 
Ingredients for filling: 
  • 5 tablespoons of soft or melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of orange juice
Ingredients for glaze: 
  • 5 tablespoons of butter. As you can see from the frequency of butter in this recipe, I've had to turn off the Nutrition major part of my brain while making these cakes. But it's worth it. 
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in 5 tablespoons of butter into the flour mixture. You can use a fancy pastry cutter or two forks. Or you can stab the mixture repeatedly with a knife while muttering, "Dieee! Dieee!" ANYWAY, using your chosen method, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are the size of peas.

2. In a measuring cup, mix together the rice milk, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until the flour begins to hold together. 

3. On a floured surface (as in, a surface that is not your floor...just to be clear), knead this dough out a few times. Let it sit for a few minutes while you butter the inside of a muffin tin. Then tear off small pieces of the dough, roll them into balls, and place them in the tins. Only fill each tin up about half way. 

4. In a small bowl, mix together the soft butter and orange juice.
Put a little bit in each muffin tin, spreading it evenly across the dough. 

5. Fill the muffin tins up with the remainder of the dough. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through (if a knife poked into it's center comes out clean, it's done). 
Note: The recipe actually makes 12 cakes, not 6. I only used half of the dough here just in case my oven went rogue and burned  everything up, as it is fond of doing.
6. While the muffins are cooking, combine all ingredients for the glaze in a medium saucepan. Place on high while waiting for the sugar to dissolve, then lower to medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer for a minute or so before taking it off the heat. It should be a sticky glaze that will coat the back of a spoon. 

7. Once the cakes have cooled enough to handle, dip them in the glaze and let rest for a few minutes to allow the glaze to set. 

You can eat them by themselves or with buttered and salted tea. Which sounds gross and is what the antagonist drinks, so maybe just do regular tea.

This is the kind of yummy, sticky food you eat on a rainy weekend while curled up with a good book...preferably The Scorpio Races. 
I cannot recommend The Scorpio Races enough. Read this book for the amazing prose, the simple yet breathtaking plot, the great characterization, and the heart-warming sibling relationships. The Scorpio Races also gets points for being a YA novel with a romance that didn't make me want to claw my eyes out. The only way this book could be better is if Batman was in it. But not everything can be perfect, I suppose.

Have you read The Scorpio Races? Tell me about your favorite aspect! And, if you're a fan of Stiefvater, please let me know which of her books I should read next.

Related articles:
Rosa Hubermann's Pea Soup Inspired by The Book Thief
German Potato Salad Inspired by Andy Weir's the Martian
Roasted Vegetable Sandwich inspired by Christie Golden's Dark Disciple

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  1. I recently read Scorpio Races as well and LOOVED it!! Definitely want to try making these sometime, they sound and look delicious! (and I approve of your rebellious personal version with less sugar, haha!)

    1. It's awesome, right! Glad you approve of my recipe. Until you pointed it out, I didn't realize how funny it is that my version of rebellion is putting in less sugar, not more. =] Lol! Thanks for the comment!


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