Two years ago today, I started this blog with a two-month-old babe asleep in my arms. I read and wrote and learned to be a mama and hoped that as life continued to change that I would have one constant, this place to return. A place to write and to be heard in the middle of washing diapers and roasting tomatoes and weeding the garden and watching movies and so I couldn’t let the writing slip. Not with you around anyway.
The good news is, I’m still here and so are you. Whether you’ve been here all along or just stopped by today, I couldn’t be happier that this is so. I combed through the archives earlier because it’s always good to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. My first post was about an architect from New York who hosted a dinner party on the Brooklyn Bridge. More than anything, what I wanted to share then but didn’t was that I, too, wanted to host a dinner party much like the architect. To show the importance of sharing food and drink and conversation and stories. And to tell you to pull up a seat whenever you like.
Here, we dine together. We talk art and music and life and travel. In this nebulous but tangible blog space. Seated at a long wooden table overlooking whatever it is we’re overlooking on any given day. Today it happens to be the cemetery across the road with the towering pine trees and blue painted bench in front.
This is what the blog is about. It’s what I didn’t know then but do now.
To celebrate the two year mark, I baked a cake. I thought about making a savory dish of homemade beet ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, walnuts, and swiss chard and believe me, it’s in the works although a birthday above other foods, at least in my book, calls for cake. After a few weeks spent testing recipes and eating much more cake than I found desirable (and I do like cake, even for breakfast—on occasion), I returned to Ina Garten’s lemon yogurt cake recipe which happens to be truly spectacular after fiddling with three other recipes. I started with a blend of spelt, kamut, and all purpose flours, but the cake was a bit dense so I kept only kamut flour and pure maple syrup which lightened up considerably. Although the next time I make it, I’ll separate the eggs (beating in the yolks first and folding in the stiffly beaten egg whites at the very end, after the oil has been added) as in traditional pound cakes to see if the cake produces a slightly lighter crumb.
The cake is ever so sweet with a pound cake-like crumb strewn together with tart lemon threads. I like to think of it as an everyday cake to be dressed up or down with a heaving spoonful or less of goat cheese cream. Tonight, it’s raspberry syrup. Tomorrow, it’s plain.
So here’s to you. Now let’s have cake.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons kamut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup pure maple syrup (divided)
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or try walnut oil)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside.
Sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 3/4 cup maple syrup, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, bring the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk occasionally. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-syrup mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool. Serve with a mound of Goat Cheese Cream.
Yield about 2 cups
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup raw sugar
4 ounces plain goat cheese (preferably Chevre)
Whip the heavy cream and goat cheese together until soft peaks are formed. To finish, fold in the raw sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.