I wanted to make a July 4th dessert that was nothing like the clichéd concoctions that appear in mainstream womens magazines, predictably featuring an array of blueberries and raspberries arranged *just so* on a tart or ice cream cake.
Hence, I made Washington Pie. A simple and tasty alternative.
Washington Pie, a precursor to Boston Cream Pie, is really a cake. And it couldn't be easier to make because unlike most cakes, there's no frosting or filling to prepare separately. The cake layers are spread with raspberry or apricot jam (hmmm....shouldn't it be cherry?) and the top is dusted with a fine layer of confectioners sugar. (Boston Cream Pie, also a cake, is filled with vanilla custard and topped with chocolate.)
This is a light and delicious cake, and was much appreciated by the ladies of Henry Street Settlement's Home Planning Workshop, led by the amazing Ruth Taube, 86, (below, pretty in pink, in a dress she designed and sewed) who has been teaching sewing, knitting and crocheting to Lower East Side residents for more than 40 years.
The workshop, located in the basement of the Vladeck Houses, a public housing project, hasn't changed much in 50 years. Inside, ladies (and sometimes men) sit around two tables, or at sewing machines, busy at work on projects, while Ruth goes from person to person, teaching a technique here, solving a problem there, offering all manner of advice, not all of it limited to the needle crafts. (Instruction and advice are free.) There's laughter, gossip, camaraderie and, almost always, cake or another sweet. I was thrilled my contribution was so well received -- this is a tough audience!