The comfort of grey skies and well known cakes on an Autumn day
I started the week in some need of comfort. I woke up on Monday needing the comfort of a grey, clouded, cold day outside, and was greeted by dazzling sunlight. I put on a flowery dress, one that I couldn't seem to fit into for the past four years, and that suddenly slipped on like a glove once again. I put on a dress because the sun was shinning, but my whole heart begged for clouds and darker skies. Stubborn as I am, I covered my legs in dark, thick, plum coloured tights and wore my new victorian like boots. My feet felt warm, and then downright hot.
By lunchtime, as I walked up the road inside one of my Winter coats - the flowery dress being flimsy and light - I was nearly drenched, as the sun bore down on my back. And still, my whole body cried out for the comfort of a cloudy day and the possibility of turning on my fairy lights and a scented candle or two for good measure as well. Stubborn as I am, I had already downed some turkish apple and rose tea. I felt flustered and warm after I finished it.
For lunch I had a hearty, warming lamb stew that pushed all the right buttons on a November day in the Northern Hemisphere, even though I felt like I was actually somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, given the temperatures outside. It sat badly on my stomach, and I yearned for the comfort of a cold Autumn day so I could wrap myself around a throw and feel protected, and somehow safe. Stubborn as I am, I had mulled some wine the previous night and partook of a sip at lunch. I felt heavy afterwards, but still had to take the kid to school, when all I wanted was to curl up on the couch and sleep some.
Luckilly enough, my husband was home and drove us all to school, and we took our leisure and our time in getting ready and out the door, so much leisure and so much time we eventually became pressed for it, and I had to hurry both father and son. As it was, I forgot my Winter coat on top of my bed, and left home in a flimsy, light, flowery dress that would not have been amiss on a late Spring afternoon. Stubborn as I am, I convinced myself I would not be cold, even after my husband told me the temps seemed to have gone down a notch in the space of an hour. As I walked to the car, I felt slightly cold.
And then, there it was. The sky, like lead. Covered in grey clouds, some light, some darker. The humidity coming up from the river, the mist already creeping over it towards the trees. The wind picking up speed, blowing my hair only slightly, in a promise of dropping temperatures and a chill in the air. I had begged for the comfort of an Autumn day, in its essence of bleakness, its scenery of colourless horizons, its cascades of tumbling yellow and russet leaves, floating to the will of a dancing bitter breeze, and here it was. The flimsy dress that felt way too cold, the boots that warmed my feet, the tights keeping my legs safe, temperature wise, the want for a throw and a candle and fairy lights. Stubborn as I am, I had gotten my wish.
And in the midst of such a wish, of such a day, where the brightness and cheerfulness of the fallen leaves in their jewel like colours, marked the only spots of intensity over the dull, dark grey tarmac, and the bruised, dark grey sky, I was reminded of a colourful cake, with carrots and apples, looking like fallen leaves, the poster child for Autumn, in all its tasteful glory, a rustic at first sight, but such a gem of a cake once one bites into it. This cake, like many others, is a cake so perfect for Fall, for a chill afternoon, along with a cup of tea, sitting by fire - even if mine is electrical - reading a book, or just dreaming away of stories to come up in one's head and through one's fingertips. I needed the comfort of a grey Autumn day so I could present a bright coloured cake to the world and feel it comforting me as a much needed hug. Stubborn as I am, I got my wish and felt better for it. If only I could comfort the rest of the world in such a way...
If you feel you might need this cake, here's the recipe and may it comfort you when you most need comfort for your very soul.
- two small carrots
- two medium sized apples plus three apples for topping
- one cup olive oil
- two cups flour
- one and a half cup dark muscovado sugar
- one generous tablespon honey
- four eggs
- one teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of cinnamon plus another pinch to dust topping
Peel and grate the two carrots and the two apples. Peel and thinly slice the other three apples, drizzle with lemon juice and reserve. Turn on the oven at 180º, and line a baking tin - we used a round one, works well in a loaf tin too. Add the carrots and apples to flour, sugar and oil and mix. Add in the eggs and the baking powder, adding the pinch of cinnamon at the end. Make sure it's all well mixed up together, with no lumps of fruit accumulating at any spot. Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the oven for ten minutes. Take the tin out and scatter the sliced apples over the batter, covering up with a dusting of cinnamon. Return to the oven and bake for about thirty five minutes, checking with a skewer every now and then to test the baking point. Soon as the skewer comes out clean, turn off the oven, bring the cake out and allow to cool before setting on a plate and serving. Goes well with apple teas, as well as red berries tisanes. But of course, plain black tea drenched in milk just the way I like to have it, goes well too!!