Forced Recreation.

Where have you been, Beautiful Wallflower?
Ahh, there’s a question…
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I enjoy telling my story through pictures, because an image can capture the emotion of the moment; it can both affect and effect. It’s communicating to the world from the lens of the observer. Images become indelible memories of experience, of time.
Tender, vulnerable, revealing.
A fine way to get to know someone, really.
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In the past month, I have attended festivals
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Made more baked goods than a girl probably should
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Ran faster than the wind
Sought comfort and rejuvenation with friends
Celebrated birthdays and milestones
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And sequestered myself with a cold…
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As my inbox gets bombarded with loads of good things to create, my neighborhood filled with new restaurants to try, I am still called to the kitchen, with a yearning to create. I’ve been baking my way through Zoe Nathan’s Huckleberry, annotating what changes I’ve either made, or need to make, to ensure success the next time around.PicFrame
I’ve made at least four (five?) recipes now, and continue to be inspired by the gorgeous photography and straightforward directions.
Zoe has reignited my love of the teacake, that perfect excuse for a sit-down with a good cuppa something steamy.
I was inspired to make a citrus-fennel cake recently, a variation of her lemon kumquat poppy teacake.IMG_6434
I had a fragrant Cara Cara orange on hand that was begging to be put to use, and I always have several lemons at the ready. But fennel! I don’t know why it came so strongly to mind, however the subtle anise-like flavor seemed just the right thing pair with the citrus.
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And holy mackerel! This is by far one of the best cakes i’ve made in a while. The crumb, dense and buttery, was exactly what one might expect from a proper tea/pound cake. The flavor, so citrus-y and bright; the toasted bits of crushed fennel rounding out the experience better than I could have imagined.
 This recipe will be in regular rotation, for sure.
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Citrus-Fennel Tea Cake
Inspired by Zoe Nathan’s Lemon Kumquat Poppy Teacake
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Ingredients:
1 c butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
zest and juice of one large lemon and one orange, separated (~1/4-1/3 cup juice)
2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp heavy cream
1.5 c flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp fennel seeds, lightly smashed
4 tbsp sugar
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Method:
Preaheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan. I like to line the pan with parchment, which eases removal of cake from the pan.
Using your fingers, massage sugar and zest together until fragrant. Add to mixing bowl with the butter and salt.
Mix at medium speed until fluffy and light; about 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl periodically.
Sift baking powder and fennel seeds into flour; set aside.
Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and cream.
With mixer on low-medium speed, slowly drizzle egg mixture into creamed butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed for ~1 minute.
Add flour and mix just until combined; no more than ~10 seconds. It’s okay if there are still bits of unincorporated flour; simply fold into batter with spatula.
Scoop dough into prepared pan and bake for ~60 minutes. Cake is fully baked when an inserted knife or toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 10 minutes, then remove from pan and set on a cooling rack.
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While cake is baking, prepare the glaze: in a small saucepan, combine juice and sugar. bring to a boil, whisking while the sugar dissolves, turn heat down or a minute and allow the juice to reduce, just a bit. Brush over top and sides of warm cake.
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Enjoy, and much love,
J

Virtue by Way of Cake.

My breakfast lately has consisted of a noble mix of hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds and slivered almonds embedded in yogurt and almond milk, with currants, wild lingonberries and just the slightest kiss of honey.
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I like to follow it up with a handful of Girl Scout cookies. What can I say?
Moving on.
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This past week has left me with little enthusiasm for cooking, however last night found me wanting to bake.
I recalled my friend Lisa serving up a sliver of her grapefruit olive oil cake some time ago. I’d begged her for the recipe, to which she said nothing, then several days later, I received a link to the blog where she’d discovered it. You can find it, here.
Grapefruit and Fennel Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Glaze

Grapefruit and Fennel Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Glaze

So with a ripe grapefruit already on hand, my mind went immediately to this cake. I’ve made it several times, with little tweaks here and there. This time around, I added a whiff of fennel seed to perfume the cake, not overpowering; rather like a silent partner, giving a little boost from behind the curtain.
The glaze evolved from other items on hand, some candied citrus peel, sugar and sweet-tart Meyer lemon juice.
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This is the kind of cake can easily be justified as breakfast with a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt, goes well with afternoon tea, or any other time when the need for a bit of sweetness strikes.
Grapefruit and Fennel Olive Oil Cake
Enjoy, and much love.
J
Grapefruit olive oil cake with Fennel seeds and Meyer Lemon Glaze
Adapted from Sarah’s recipe for Olive Oil Cake at The Yellow House blog
Ingredients:
For the cake:
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 tsp fennel seed (whole, not ground)
1 heaping tsp grapefruit zest
juice of 1 grapefruit (~1/2 cup)
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
3 eggs
2/3 c olive oil
1 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each baking soda and sea salt
For the glaze:
1/4 c Meyer lemon juice (you may substitute grapefruit juice, as desired)
1/4 cup each brown and granulated sugars
2 tbsp candied citrus peel (optional)
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Brush inside of a bundt or rectangular pan, ~9×5 inches; flour. Shake out excess flour and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients; set aside.
  4. Gather a small bowl and, using hands, rub zest and fennel seeds into sugar until fragrant.
  5. Whisk into sugar the eggs, juice, yogurt and olive oil until well-combined
  6. Pour wet ingredients into dry; quickly whisk together until smooth; about 30 seconds
  7. Bake for ~45 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for ~5 minutes in pan, then invert onto serving plate.
While cake is baking, prepare glaze:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-high, without stirring, until boiling.
  3. Allow to boil for ~60 seconds; remove from heat.
  4.  Spoon glaze over top of cake, and allow to cool completely before serving.

Kitchen Therapy.

I’m constantly balancing work and play, ensuring adequate self care, investing myself fully in being a mother, a partner, a colleague; a friend. I keep lists of ‘to do’s, deleting my accomplishments as I go. Vitamin: Check! Pick up kid: Check! Pedicure: Check! Run – no need to make a list for that one. It’s a part of my operating system now.
Mediation I still struggle with. So, as I sit here with consciousness-invoking tunes streaming through my headphones, I naturally relax into creativity mode.
Which brings me back to Sunday:
I love casual Sundays; the rain in Seattle really helps invoke that nurturing and creative side in me. Most recently, I wanted to make a dinner that would really impress. And of course, dessert would be involved.
I have a thing for citrus cakes; last year I was on a grapefruit-olive oil cake run that I made multiple times, inspired by the incredible Yellow House blog post. I served it at dinners, I made it for friends. Be sure to take a gander, if you have time.
This cake is similar in its density, with citrusy bitters mingling with syrupy sweetness in a dense almond flour base. I loosely followed a recipe for clementine almond cake found in the Jeruselem cookbook (again – planning to cook my way through this one!), however while out procuring ingredients, my eyes wandered over to the giant globes of grapefruit.
Grapefruit Almond Cake

Grapefruit Almond Cake

A combination of citrus would work really well here; I’m thinking blood oranges would be lovely, once in season. Feel free to play around with sweeteners; this cake is quite forgiving. It’ll keep several days, and makes an excellent breakfast, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt or cultured cream.
Mmm. Already fantasizing about when I will make this again!
Grapefruit Almond Cake
2.5 c almond flour (finely ground almonds)
3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c butter
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 c sugar (I used unbleached cane sugar)
Zest of one grapefruit
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Syrup:
1/3 c sugar
Juice of one grapefruit and one lemon
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Butter and line a 8.5-9-in springform pan with parchment
3. Combine all dry ingredients; set aside.
4. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, along with lemon and grapefruit zest.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating into the batter.
6. Add almond extract.
7. Work in dry ingredients, about a cup at a time; beating until just incorporated.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for ~50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
(note – monitor cake ~40 minutes in, as it may need to be covered with foil or parchment to prevent excessive browning)
While cake is baking, prepare syrup:
Bring sugar to a boil, then simmer on low for just a few minutes, stirring to prevent burning. You’ll want to have ~1/2 c of the juice/syrup.
Pour over cake immediately, once removed from oven
Let cake cool completely, then remove from pan. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or whip cream.

I won’t go into great detail about dinner, however I must share a teaser, as it was a truly stunning meal:

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Lamb Kofta with Tahini Sauce

Much love to you!

jlh