Pound Cake 2 of 2 600x400 After School Special

It’s a quarter past three and they’re at the gate, their long fingers clutching the bars. They pretend they are in jail, and when I turn the key to liberate them, they shuffle across the brown-colored concrete of the courtyard, howling in make-believe despair, arms flailing, their eyebrows turned into apostrophes, their backpacks magically turned into iron shackles, putting an unbearable weight onto their hunched shoulders. They nudge each other while they take the stairs, two steps at a time, and arrive at the apartment door giggling, the jail game forgotten, another one already brewing.

They race each other through the doors of their bedroom hoping to make it first to the bathroom, leaving behind a trail of discarded jackets, notebooks, and shoes. Their shrieks of delight echo around the house and follow them when they emerge from their sanctuary in a tangle of long legs and intertwined arms, my beautiful middle school bunch of tumbleweed.

They skip into the kitchen inhaling the smells wafting from the stove or the oven, trying to guess what surprises I might have for them. Their senses are already discernible and they twist their heads left and right trying to find the best nose angle for deciphering all the aromatic ingredients that combine to fill the house with the unforgettable smell of comfort and security.

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In between sniffing and inquisitive glances, they bombard me with short, explosive recaps of their day, overlapping each other’s excited expressions, competing in speed-talking and emphasis, until I manage to get a vivid picture of all things wonderful and horrible that marked their day.

While I lay the white plates on the counter, they drag papers from their backpacks and run back, elbows working overtime to ensure the coveted front position. I shift my eyes from the serrated knife zigzagging through the buttery crumb of the cake and look at barely marked essays and math tests, a smile of pride alighting my face. I carefully place yellow slabs on the plates and scoop a few heaping spoonfuls of sliced strawberries that yielded to sugar, becoming softer and pliable. The cake thirstily absorbs the scarlet juices as the red fruit triangles glisten like jewels. A dollop of whipped cream, barely kissed by sugar, nestles comfortably on top, like a snow cap on a mountain. A light dust of powdered sugar wafts from my fingers and settles over the plates.

They squeal and yelp, their eyes wide open in anticipation, their excitement more than enough to show their gratitude. As I hold the plates and start toward the dining room table, they encircle my waist with their arms, snaking around me lovingly, resting their heads on my shoulders, the soft hair tickling my neck. I lean my head to one side, and then the other, inhaling their sweet smell, dividing my time equally between a straight strawberry-blonde and a wavy light brunette, elated and saddened at the same time that my girls are taller then me and heading out with ever accelerated speed.

028 600x400 After School Special

They settle at the table and poke at their treat reverently, the forks leaving trails in bright red juices and coloring the pristine white of the whipped cream pink. When the forks cut through the mound, the shrieks and yelps are silenced for a moment. They proceed slowly, allowing barely warm strawberry-soaked cake to melt on their tongues, savoring harmonious flavors that play pleasant sensory games with their taste buds.

They bring their clean-looking plates to the sink and retreat again to the room, their faces basking in afterglow. For a long time I hear only rustling of paper and dull thuds as they pull their overweight text books off the shelves and down to the floor. I wrap the remaining pound cake and wipe pink strawberry drops that speckle the counter top, still smiling from the retreating line thrown my way: “I am so happy you are my mother!”

Pound Cake 1 of 1 600x400 After School Special



  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz, 4 Tbsp, 115gr) of butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • powder sugar (optional)
  • strawberries (optional – if you choose to use strawberries, slice them and place them in a bowl with some sugar (1 Tbsp per cup) to macerate for 30 minutes before serving)


Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, and mix until well combined. Add flour alternating with milk until smooth.

Pour into the pan and flatten the top surface. Bake for 55-60 minutes until done (I usually stick a bamboo skewer in the middle and if it comes out dry or almost dry, the cake is done.) Let it cool off for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve dusted with powder sugar, with macerated strawberries and whipped cream, or with everything, as I did.

12 Responses to “After School Special”

  1. Beautiful strawberries! You make me yearn for Summer again & we haven’t even started winter!!

    • Ah, I always forget that we are on the opposite ends of the planet:) You are getting ready to roast pumpkins and we are welcoming the strawberries!

  2. I used to make snacks for the kids like that. I found that if we all sat together over a snack, I’d get lots more than “yes” and “no”. :)

    Lovely after school delight!

    • I don’t subsrcibe to “no talking at the table”. I think many secrets have been divulged over the food:) It’s easier to make the kids talk, even if their mouth is half-full!

  3. Lovely post Lana – wish I could come over to your house for snacks every day! I will not let my kids read this post :-)

  4. The rythyms of everyday life at like poetry in your hands. GREG

  5. Jako mi je zao sto nemam uvek dovoljno vremena da lepo citam tovje postove… Ovaj sam procitala i bas sam uzivala u tvojim recima… :)

    • Hvala, Milkice! Znam vrlo dobro kako je voditi bitku sa vremenom – nikada nema dovoljno sati u jednom danu za sve sto zelimo:)

  6. Lana- I don’t know that my kids have ever reacted like that to anything I’ve ever made. But I bet they would be quiet for a spell, at least while they were scarfing it down!! I’ll let you know ;)

    • Stephanie, I might have caught them in a particularly pensive mood? Mine tend to giggle and bicker most of the time:) But good luck with yours!

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