Sunday, June 20, 2010
Warm Weather + Warm Spices = Warm Feelings
Summer is almost here! Officially, I only have to wait 2 days. Unofficially, it's more like 8, but for me, the good times have already started. My weekends are getting more relaxed - I'm enjoying time doing nothing or having outdoor adventures without that nagging "you've got marking to do!" in the back of my mind. Monday, instead of looming over me, has become something to look forward to - let's face it: no one really does much teaching during the last week of school, right? And the warm weather (crossing my fingers) finally looks like it's here to stay. The sun pops her head up around 5:30 instead of 8:00, and by 9:00, I can already shed the sweater I've put on and walk carefree in a t-shirt. And did I mention that certain people have already started wearing sandals?
Although I can honestly say that we're truly blessed with having all four seasons, and that I do love winter with her blustery fresh cold air and fluffy snowflakes which give me the perfect excuse to put off the marking and go trampling outdoors, I must admit that the warm weather is definitely lifting my spirits. So why on earth, you would ask, am I baking with warm winter flavours instead of fresh summery ones? Instead of lemons and strawberries, why would I turn to oranges and nutmeg? I don't know. I honestly do not know. But what I do know, is that what came out of the oven didn't remind me of Christmas or snowfalls or days spent curled up inside. The smell was lovely, warm, inviting: the perfect baked treat to share with a friend who I desperately needed to catch up with.
See, I was meeting my friend yesterday in the mid-morning. My weekday biological alarm clock went off around its usual time, so I had a bit of time of spare, but not too much. I didn't want to start off the already steamy day by working up a sweat in the kitchen. So, after a nice long workout and a quick, cold smoothie, I decided to bake a little cake. I decided that the Ontario strawberries in the fridge would serve me much better blended up in a smoothie or eaten as is, plus I didn't feel like spending all that time hulling and chopping. Although I did have some lemons, I thought that I'd probably need them for our upcoming Father's Day barbecue when we would have to come up with a marinade for chicken. So, with warm weather outside and warm thoughts of meeting an old friend, I turned to the warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and the fresh zing of orange zest. I slightly modified this recipe for orange crumb cake that I used way back in December and waited patiently as it baked in the oven. Not only did my partner wake up to a nice little slice of warm, spicy sweetness, but it put a big smile on my friend's face when I gave them to her. Plus, it was so easy and almost healthy -- no butter in a crumb cake?! I promise, you won't miss it.
So I'm not that good with seasonal baking. So what? Bake the orange crumb cake and save the lemons and berries for tomorrow.
Orange Crumb Cake
(slightly adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches)
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of ground almonds
1/2 cup of brown sugar
zest of half an orange
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup of canola oil
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of skim milk yogurt
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flours and spices. Add in the ground almonds and sugar and stir to make sure everything is evenly combined. Add in the oil and juice and mix to form a crumble. Set aside a heaping 1/2 cup of this mixture for the topping.
2. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, almond extract, baking powder and soda and yogurt.
3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Don't over mix! It will be lumpy and that's ok!
4. Pour the batter into a small loaf pan and top with the reserved crumble topping. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
5. Feel warm and cozy inside as you take a little bite and share with your friend.