â€œGood morning!!â€ 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. â€œAre you having a great day?!â€
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.
â€œOh,â€ he said, â€œthat’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!â€
â€œYouâ€™re probably wondering how thatâ€™s going for me,â€ he asked rhetorically as he lidded up my cappuccino. â€œWell 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!â€
You know when people smile, but their eyes are suddenly cold, like an iguana? Â 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 Cranstonâ€™s beautiful book Seasonal Kitchen, which makes you want to jump into ever photograph. Itâ€™s a very satisfying cake to eat â€“ with yogurt and honey from breakfast, warm with a cup of coffee any time, or with berries and cream for dessert. Itâ€™s also a very satisfying cake to make â€“ all in the processor, no messing.1 cup caster (superfine) sugar 1 1/3 cups blanched almonds Â½ vanilla bean 9 oz (250g) room temperature butter 4 large UK extra large US eggs also at room temperature Â¾ cup flour 2 tsp baking powder Â
- Preheat the oven to 350f, and grease and line a tin â€“ 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 â€“ 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)