Friends! While We Were Dating finally comes out next week, on Tuesday July 13th! This book means a lot to me, and I’m so excited and so nervous about letting it out into the world. I wrote it last year, and this book was what really got me through some of the worst times of the year. I love it very much.
I am heading over to East Bay Booksellers to sign a whole bunch of preorders as soon as I send this email, so if you’re reading it and you want a signed copy and you haven’t preordered yet, here’s the link to order any of my books from them, signed! I’ll also go back and sign some more books there next week, so this isn’t like, a deadline to get signed books or anything. But also next week, you can wander into your local bookstore or your local Target and find it right there on the shelves and get it immediately! I will have virtual events all week to celebrate, and I hope you’ll all join me at one or more of them! On Monday the 12th, the night before the release, I’ll be talking to Ashley Ford at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern; on Tuesday the 13th, I’ll be talking to Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern; on Wednesday the 14th, I’ll be talking with Leah Johnson, moderated by Tia Williams at 7 pm Pacific/10 pm Eastern; and on Friday the 16th, I’ll be talking with Glory Edim at 4 pm Pacific/7pm Eastern! I hope there will be some opportunities in the fall to do some in person events; let’s all please keep our fingers crossed for that, shall we?
Also, this week I got to be on Forever 35, one of my favorite podcasts! I give some pep talks and talk writing process, and how writing a book during a pandemic made me write in a very different way than I had before, and all sorts of other things! Also, I got to chat with Time Magazine — along with some of my favorite romance authors — about writing a romance novel in 2021. And I wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal this week where I share my most controversial opinion. (It’s about pockets).
Speaking of Leah Johnson, which I was just above, I have to take this opportunity to talk about her new book, released just this week, Rise to the Sun. I’m so excited that we’re going to get to do a book event together, because I loved this book so much — ever since I’ve finished it, I’ve had one of those good book kind of hangovers, where you get excited to pick up your book again and then remember you finished it and get mad, you all know what I’m talking about, right? It’s about Olivia and Toni, who meet at a music festival, and look, at first I was like okay, I love Leah Johnson’s writing, but I am very much not a music festival kind of person, will I be able to get this book? Yes, absolutely, I got it and loved it — it didn’t make me a music festival person, but it made me at least understand music festival people. And I loved reading about Olivia and Toni, who are both going through very hard things, and have lots of messy emotions about them, and I wanted to give them both very big hugs and tell them how proud I was of both of them. This book is very different than You Should See Me In A Crown, (Leah’s first book), but I loved it just as much.
Okay so as those of you who have subscribed to this newsletter for a while know, I’m a big fan of baking cake. While I love an elaborate, frosted layer cake, I’m a procrastinator at heart, so I am an even bigger fan of the kinds of cakes that I think of as last minute cakes. Those kinds of cakes where you think “yeah, no, I think I do want to bake a cake for this thing,” and then you get up and go into the kitchen and you can have the cake in the oven within thirty or so minutes. The Smitten Kitchen Strawberry Summer Cake is that exact kind of cake — you may have already made it, I saw many people on my Instagram feed making it over the weekend, like I was — but it was my first time making it, so if you haven’t made it yet, you should, and if you haven’t made it yet this summer, you should do that too. I tinkered with it a little — I made it in an 8x8 square metal pan, instead of a pie pan, which worked great, I added lemon zest, which also worked great, and I can’t wait to make it again.
Strawberry Summer Cake
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
the zest of one lemon (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved
*Okay, here’s what I do when I want to make a cake at the last minute and it calls for room temperature butter and all of my butter is refrigerator cold — I take the butter out first thing, cut it into small-ish cubes, and let it sit there while I gather everything else for the recipe. Here that took a little time because I had to wash and hull and halve all of the strawberries. Then, once I’m ready to start mixing, I give the butter an extra minute or two with the mixer before adding anything else to it, and it’s more or less softened. Yes, this isn’t as good for the texture if I had properly softened butter, but I’m not on Top Chef, here, I’m just baking a cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter your pan; she calls for a 10 inch pie pan or a 9 inch deep dish pie pan, I used an 8x8 square metal pan, which worked perfectly, use what you’ve got. (Her recipe notes say this does NOT work with a regular 9 inch pie pan, so be forewarned). I also put parchment at the bottom of the cake pan, which made the cake much easier to remove.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar until they’re all mixed together and fluffy, about 3 minutes, depending on your mixer. Add the lemon zest, if using it, and then mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla until just combined. Add the dry mixture slowly and combine until just mixed — this part is easier to do by hand.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and smooth the top until even. Then arrange all of the strawberries, cut side down, on top of the batter. You will think they all won’t fit, but jam them all in there, they’ll shrink as they cook, and you’ll want them all. Sprinkle that 2 tablespoons of sugar over the berries. Bake for ten minutes at 350, and then turn the temp down to 325, and bake for another 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (Your house will smell soooo good). For me, in the square pan, this took exactly 50 minutes at the lower temperature, so I’d start checking after like 45 minutes at the lower temperature, depending on what kind of pan you use. Let cool (she says let cool in the pan on a rack, but I let it cool for a few minutes in the pan and then took it out of the pan with the aid of my parchment paper sling). Cut into squares or wedges and eat for dessert and for breakfast the next day and be happy.