Cookbook with a mission

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One of the most rewarding experiences for the Yale employees who work at Science Park is planning events that enrich the community surrounding Science Park — including an annual holiday party for the students at the Wexler-Grant Elementary School.

This year, to help fund their activities, the Science Park Outreach Committee has put together a cookbook full of recipes contributed by Yale employees from across the University.

Ann Brainard-Dougan, who helped to compile the submissions, notes, “The book is a great cross-section of recipes – including ethnic and old family recipes — I was starving during every moment of editing.”

With over 200 recipes, the cookbook describes its mission in its forward: “As you broaden your culinary horizons whipping up a batch of kheema or some stuffed squash blossoms, know that you are also helping to broaden the horizons and enrich the lives of many within our neighborhood.”

The spiral-bound “Science Park at Yale Community Cookbook” is available for $15. To purchase a copy, contact or

Here is one sample of what the book includes:

Nana’s Fig Cake
Submitted by Hilary Thornley, Yale Shared Services

This is my Nana’s recipe. You can eat this right away, although I find it is best to let it set up overnight.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, ground cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon (Note: you can also substitute 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice if you don’t want to buy three separate spices)
  • 1 cup oil (or butter, if you like, but you’ll need to be careful not to dry your cake out in the oven)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk mixed with 1 tablespoon white vinegar – let this curdle the milk for five minutes)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 jar of fig jam

   Ingredients for glaze

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or ½ cup whole milk mixed with ½ TB white vinegar – let this curdle the milk for five min. before you add it)
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup (or just add an extra TB of sugar and a little water and be sure you cook that sugar down to liquid)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions for cake batter

  1. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, ground cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon
  2. Add oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and fig jam
  3. Bake in greased, floured 13x9-in pan for 45-60 min @ 325 degrees – or until your toothpick comes out almost clean.  If you over bake, it’s actually okay.  The glaze will take care of that.
  4. Remove from oven and let it set for 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Pierce it all over with a fork.  The glaze will drizzle down into these fork piercings, so pierce liberally. 

Directions for glaze

  1. Bring all ingredients to boil then transfer to a glass container and let it cool off a bit.
  2. Stir the glaze (it should be warm – not hot, not cold) pour it over the cake, slowly, concentrating on the outer edges of the cake. 
  3. When the glaze is all poured, tilt your cake pan around to distribute it evenly. Don’t let the glaze settle in the middle of your cake, or you’ll have a soggy center and dry edges. 
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