Yesterday, two am.
Tonight, we ate al fresco. In our garden. Who said you’re not allowed to play make-believe anymore?
I made dessert. One strawberry tart, only it’s so much more. Black olives, vanilla, and olive oil shortbread. White chocolate crémeux. Strawberries from the little patch that somehow resisted the month of May; or perhaps, I should say the month of rain. Strawberry coulis and jam, just so. I topped it with borage flowers, and basil blossoms. And it was pretty amazing.
One massive pistachio and cherry cake. So simple. And yet, the hint of cinnamon in the hidden white chocolate mousse felt just right. We had a slice each. And then a second.
By that time, mosquitos began dancing around us, making our heads spin. By that time, stars started to fill the sky, not unlike light through a moth-eaten blanket.
After dinner, I read. A lot. But most of all, I found this.
“She made some of her “griddles trimmed with lace,” as only Barbara’s griddles were trimmed; the brown lightness running out at the edges into crisp filigree. And another time it was the flaky spider-cake, turned just as it blushed golden-tawny over the coals; and then it was breakfast potato, beaten almost frothy with one white-of-egg, a pretty good bit of butter, a few spoonfuls of top-of-the-milk, and seasoned plentifully with salt, and delicately with pepper,—the oven doing the rest, and turning it into a snowy soufflé.”
Adeline Dutton Train Whitney (1870), We Girls: A Home Story
This morning, eight am.
I woke up with the sun through curtains so light they seemed to glow. I buttered a 24cm-wide cake tin and turn the oven on.
Coarse polenta got mixed with flour, sugar, and a lot of milk. And cream was poured with no other explanation than this cornbread I’d read about yesterday.
I didn’t grow up on cornbread. But cornbread grew up on me.
It might have been because of that guy with deep-blue eyes and the cutest American accent ever. He would make me peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and halve strawberries into salads. We had matching front teeth, of the large kind – yes, I do believe that I only fall in love with boys who have two large front teeth, just like mine; but we’re not here to talk about genetics.
This very cornbread can’t wait.
While it was in the oven, I rolled green tea puff pastry and made vanilla crème diplomate. I wrote a little too. And after an hour had passed, I took the glorious bubbling cake out from the oven and let it cool while coffee was being made.
I had a slice, still warm, with plenty of runny honey. And trust me, I think all mornings should be like this.
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg‘s A Homemade Life.
I did not know what to expect from this cake. Sure, knowing both Molly and Jess, I knew it’d be good. Sure I had a picture in front of my very eyes. And yet, it always feels like magic to me when a batter separates into layers.
When it was baked, I could barely wait to slice it. And the cream was still on the slightly runny gooey side. Not that there is anything wrong with it. Now, a few hours later, it’s firmed up into a silky custard (yes, I totally had a pre-lunch slice).
The edges remind me of canelés. The bottom is rich with corn. And the top feels like a pillow of creamy custard.
makes one 24cm cake
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a fat pinch salt
45g caster sugar
480g whole milk
50g butter, melted
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
240g double cream
Butter a 24cm-wide cake tin, preheat the oven to 170°C, and place the tin in the oven to warm up.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. In a jug, whisk the eggs and sugar, add the milk, butter, vinegar and vanilla extract.
Slowly pour the wet ingredients over the flour, and mix until just combined.
Scrape the batter in the hot tin, then slowly pour the cream in the centre of the batter. Bake for one hour. Allow to cool for 30 minutes or longer, and servee in thick slices with syrup or honey.