It feels so nice to sit down at the computer for a moment. To breathe. To sigh. To let things sink in just a little. It’s been a difficult week. I’ve spent most of every day sitting in the hospital with my Dad and my family. Watching him sleep. Watching him trying to eat and not being able to. Cleaning him up when his meals come back up. Encouraging him to walk, to get out of bed, catching him when he collapses. Wondering what is going through his mind. So many emotions. I wouldn’t k now how to begin to describe them.
I made this cake several weeks ago, before things had gotten bad. It feels like a different time, even a different life when I made it. It was such a pleasant day, one of those days where everything has a sense of harmony to it, things click along with ease. I woke up to the rain pounding down on the roof and I decided to make a cake. I made coffee, turned on a CD of Garrison Keillor stories and started baking. The falling rain, the smells of burnt sugar and citrus wafting through the house, the warmth of the oven – made everything feel like a happy dream. What I remember most from that day is hearing Garrison say, in one of his many Lake Wobegon stories, that friendship is a thing that comes about when you discover a mutual need in another. It stuck with me.
And now, several weeks later, those words have taken on a deeper meaning for me. In all of those moments when I discover all the ways that I need and am needed – when I hold my Dad’s hand and I know it says more than words; when I walk with my Mom while he’s sleeping and we laugh and vent and comfort each other; when my sister and I stay up until midnight talking – I feel that need that ties us all together. Because I think that need that Garrison was speaking of – that dependency people feel, the sense that another fills some requirement of your spirit that you just can’t survive without – I think that’s what creates the feeling of family too. Knowing that you are needed, and knowing that you need.
So here is the recipe, a perfect cake for sharing with the people you need (and love) most.
A Cake of Citrus and Teff
I used a few Seville oranges I had left over from marmalade making, but lemon would be perfect too since not everyone has Seville oranges knocking around. This is what I like to call an afternoon cake – not too sweet, a little more on the wholesome side – something you could snack on with a cup of tea.
- 1 lemon, sliced thinly into rounds
- 2 tbs demerara sugar
- 4 tbs water
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup teff flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/3 cup demerara sugar
- zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees F and line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment. (Or use a 9 inch loaf pan).
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan with the lemon slices. Simmer until most of the liquid has been evaporated (about 5 minutes) and the lemons are sticky and delicious. Set aside.
Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix till combined.
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the citrus zest and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, and mix until well combined
Add the flour mixture, the milk and the lemon juice and stir until everything is incorporated.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan and arrange the sticky lemon slices over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before taking out of the pan and serving.
Update 5/26/12: My mind must truly be more out of it than I thought because someone quietly and sweetly pointed out to me this morning that there was no sugar listed in the ingredients but there was in the directions. Whoops! I’ve fixed that in the recipe now, but I truly apologize for any confusion or unsweet cakes that have resulted from that mistaken omission.