December 30, 2014
I am quite certain it was an idea that came to me in that flex of time between wake and sleep. I kept repeating vanilla, poppy, cardamom, lemon zest. Over. And, over.
It is not something that I would have thought of before as my spice knowledge is quite green given my age. But it came to me and I could not ignore it. Now I can only think of the thing I will think of next. I have thought of honey, lavender and orange zest. Surely this is not a new idea. I know that a quick search will confirm.
So with vanilla, poppy, cardamom and lemon zest haunting me I set out to make a cake. A simple cake that stands in denial of its ethereal existence. A humble—there is that word, again—cake.
I looked to Joy of Cooking because it always seems to have almost exactly what I'm looking for. Sandwiched between it's thin pages was the most deliciously simple recipe for a coffee cake. A cake that could be made casually whilst thumbing through the morning paper or hanging wash out to dry. A cake that could be made with both eyes shut and one hand tied behind one's back.
I like the idea of simple. I also like the idea of experimentation to a certain degree. The coffee cake recipe had two of the four ingredients already listed. I only had to figure out the ratio of poppy and cardamom. A quick search—that's all it really takes—and I was ready to add in my two cents.
The resulting cake was undeniably delicious, perfuming the kitchen with the slightest scent of the exotic. Cardamom, the exotic. And, poppy. Breathing in the heady warmth was all at once terrifying and gratifying. Of course I had to exhale—as I was holding my breath—before I could truly enjoy the fruits of my labor.
But all was not as I had envisioned. I had forgotten the vanilla. Momentarily let down, my spirits were quickly lifted. For one bite brought a flood of excitement. I could hardly contain myself. Literally, I pat myself on the back and smiled.