“Good morning!!” beamed the guy behind the counter at Pain Quotidian, as I struggled to summon the words from my sleeping brain to convey that I needed a lot of coffee. “Are you having a great day?!”
Since it was basically dawn pre-choir rehearsal, I told him honestly that I hadn’t had a whole lot of day yet to be great in. Then, because that might have come across a touch snarky, I remarked that he seemed very cheerful.
“Oh,” he said, “that’s just me. I’m from Arizona. We’re all pretty much perky all the time in Arizona. But I decided there was too much sunshine there already so I thought, Come to New York! The Big Apple! Follow my dreams! Bring the sunshine with me!”
“You’re probably wondering how that’s going for me,” he asked rhetorically as he lidded up my cappuccino. “Well so far, I’ll be honest, the auditions haven’t been working out quite the way I hoped for. Well, Yet anyway. Yet. Ha. So. Yeah. And I think my roomate is stealing my food, but things will work out better soon! So. Happiness!”
You know when people smile, but their eyes are suddenly cold, like an iguana? Yeah. That.
The city can do that to a person sometimes. Also, the weather. Having spent a sunny Saturday planting out herbs on the balcony, only to spend a rainy Sunday protecting them from the storms with makeshift cardboard box wind breakers, I turned to the kitchen for solace in the form of this comforting, yet still spring-y cake.
Vanilla Almond Cake
This recipe is from Michele Cranston’s beautiful book Seasonal Kitchen, which makes you want to jump into ever photograph. It’s a very satisfying cake to eat – with yogurt and honey from breakfast, warm with a cup of coffee any time, or with berries and cream for dessert. It’s also a very satisfying cake to make – all in the processor, no messing.1 cup caster (superfine) sugar 1 1/3 cups blanched almonds ½ vanilla bean 9 oz (250g) room temperature butter 4 large UK extra large US eggs also at room temperature ¾ cup flour 2 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350f, and grease and line a tin – I use a bundt pan or a loaf tin usually, but round would be fine too
- Put the sugar and almonds into the processor and snip in the vanilla (helps the blades along). Process until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
- Chop the butter into cubes and add, processing until the mixure is creamy. Add the eggs, flour and baking powder, and blend to a smooth batter
- Spoon into the tin and bake for 40 mins – keep an eye on it – if the top starts to brown, cover it with foil. Let the cake cool in the tin before un-molding
- Sprinkle with icing sugar, serve with whipped cream and berries (mounded in the middle if you made a bundt shape)