I almost met Ne-Yo once. Well, I almost had a private concert that very possibly could have resulted in meeting him, but then things happened, as so often occurs with life. Back when I was but a wee sophomore in high school, the local Top 40 radio station ran a contest. The school who got the highest percentage of their students to sign a petition to always wear their seat belts would win a concert from Ne-Yo. This was back in 2006 when Ne-Yo’s only popular song was “So Sick.” I was a Ne-Yo fan, though not at the level of my grade school fandom of NSYNC and Britney Spears, but a fan nonetheless. And the chance to have a private concert by any singing sensation sounded pretty awesome.
I didn’t know much about the contest and had no idea my all-girl Catholic school was a part of it until I signed the petition with a group of girls from one of my classes not even thinking much of it. I figure I had probably been absent when the school announced the contest or scrambling to finish some homework I didn’t want to do at home. Mere days later I was certainly glad I signed, as the end of the contest was drawing near and the incredibly competitive nature of this school came out. Students who had not signed were called down to the office after morning announcements to do so. The school was determined to win.
Win they did. Excitement filled the school as the Dean of students told us we won. I was kind of expecting it as there was no stopping this school when it put its mind to something. You know by now I hated school day in and day out, so much so that after this sophomore year I began homeschooling and never looked back, but even I was super excited about this concert, this chance in a lifetime happening. What would I wear? Would I get to meet him? Could this be some kind of big break for me? Whatever it was I was ready to learn every Ne-Yo song and sing and dance my heart out.
The next day there was a decidedly different feel in the school when I walked in. Totally out of the loop almost all the time, I knew something was up but had no idea what. Instead of going to first hour, we stayed with our advisors. An important announcement would be coming our way. The seniors were more than happy to oblige in telling me what had happened without waiting for our rarely seen principal to share her words of wisdom with us. There would be no concert.
As mentioned above this was a Catholic school, and they suddenly found an issue with Ne-Yo’s lyrics, even though they hadn’t changed in the day between winning and this. Instead of a concert we would get an assembly where the principal would explain her decision. Good times. During the course of the day, my Spanish teacher had to threaten taking away our free time for the rest of the year to get us to stop talking about the concert, my religion teacher threw out the day’s lesson plan and focused on it, siding with the students for the most part, the lyrics of “So Sick” were changed to express our disdain over the situation, phone calls to the radio station were constantly made from the unsupervised cafeteria, and at the end of the day local news trucks were parked right outside the gates, as administration refused to speak to them or allow them on school property.
During the assembly, the principal pointed out the small group of students that brought the questionable lyrics to her attention and ruined things for the many, as well as the student who helped administration organize everything. The principal said the organizer agreed with the decision and was okay with it, but it made the rounds among the student body that she didn’t and wasn’t. It turns out Ne-Yo had even agreed to work with the school on eliminating questionable lyrics. But they no longer cared. I still wonder what the concert might have been like, and I am a bigger Ne-Yo fan than ever. His music always brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step. To his credit, students from my school were offered free admission to his concert at a local teen nightclub. I didn’t go and am not sure if anyone from the school did.
What does this Oatmeal Cake with Maple Glaze have to do with Ne-Yo and this almost concert? It’s a superstar of a dessert. Seriously, we’re barely into the New Year and this is totally a new favorite dessert. I saw Teaspoon Bakery featured on Unique Sweets a little while ago with this cake and wanted it immediately. Unfortunately they don’t ship, but I found the recipe on Cooking Channel’s website and put it in the to-bake queue instantly.
Though I had to tweak the recipe some, this cake did not disappoint. The cake itself is soft and moist, with a large crumb and slight chew from the oatmeal. The crust is brown and caramelized while the interior stays perfectly fluffy and cakey. I added vanilla and am thrilled with the addition, as the flavor reminds me of some muffin or cake I had as a child but a million times better. This mild, vanilla sweetness I haven’t encountered in a cake in a long time is so comforting. Then I made the glaze, only two ingredients, confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup. It is much thinner than the TV and bakery version, but I loved that. It soaks into the cake, giving it extra moisture and wonderful maple flavor. And it’s all very easy to make. You guys have to give this cake a try – I know you’ll love it. Maybe put a little Ne-Yo music on your iPod as baking accompaniment.
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup (I used Blis Vanilla Infused Maple Syrup)
- Make the cake. In a medium bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk. Allow to sit in the refrigerator about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8 inch square baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until once again light and fluffy. Alternately add the flour mixture and oat mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. I did three installments of flour and two of oats. Mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake come out with only a few moist crumbs. After 30 minutes the cake must be covered with foil to prevent browning. The cake should also be rotated at least once during baking. Cool cake completely in pan.
- Cut the cake into pieces. Make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and syrup until a thin glaze forms. Immediately pour over the entire cake, making sure all of it is covered and allowing it to run down the sides of the cake. Cake may be stored at room temperature in an air tight container for up to 2 days or frozen in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours or in a 350 degree F oven wrapped in parchment placed on top of foil for 15-20 minutes.