At a mere 50 days in, 2020 has woken, kicking and screaming and setting all hell loose with the Australian wildfires, Hong Kong protests, and Wuhan coronavirus which make our little dark-room grown carrot president down in the States the least of our worries.
For whatever reason, it is in these dark months that I decided to subject myself to the climate change preachings of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. Intelligently written, begins densely but picks up, fiercely positioned. It’s a heavy read – in subject and in expression – but it gives language to what we didn’t have prior. A language that modern economy censors, and capitalism stifles.
That we are not, even as a collective, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all there is to the equation.
That the invisible hand is a greedy algorithm.
A harrowing thought, particularly having just read Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up, that the past 300 years of flagrant arrogance could be leading up to the fuck-up of fuck-ups.
So as I always do when I feel I’m suffocating, not from the epidemic, but from the heaviness of its shadow, and the shadow of a dozen more impending dooms that we’ve invented, squandered, literally dug our ways into, I procrastibaked.
I put all my favourite things of this moment into it. Pistachios to promise me Rome. Matcha to mourn the loss of my had-been upcoming trip to Tokyo in March. Sakura to suggest the nearness of spring, and cherries to carry the hope for summer.
If you ask me, I still don’t feel better.
Pistachio Matcha Tea Cake with Cherries
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp pistachio butter
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup 18% cream
- 2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp matcha
- 1 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup drained sour cherries (reserve the syrup for the glaze) or 1/2 cup dried cherries
- Preheat the oven to 335 degrees F, with the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line the bottom of a loaf tin with parchment paper and have a muffin tin lined at the ready (I don’t like my loaves exceed 10cm in height, so I’ll bake extra batter into baby cakes).
- In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, pistachio butter, salt, and almond extract until smooth. Stream in the milk while whisking until completely incorporated.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, matcha, and baking soda into a separate large bowl and stir in the sugar,
- Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until a streaky batter forms. Add the cherries and roughly fold through. Do not overmix.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin to about 6cm (2.5 inches), pour the remaining batter into the muffin tin. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, and 45-55 minutes for the loaf, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.
- Cool completely before running a thin knife along the edges and unmolding.
Sakura Cherry Glaze
- 4 tbsp sour cherry syrup
- 2 sakura blossoms preserved in salt, rinsed of excess salt
- 2 cups icing sugar
- Microwave 2 tbsp of the cherry syrup until hot. Add the sakura blossoms and let steep for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is completely cool.
- Add the steeped syrup to the icing sugar and stir until a glaze forms. Add the remaining syrup a teaspoon at a time to achieve a thick pour-able consistency forms.
- Pour onto the cake (loaf and muffins), and allow it to set slightly before garnishing with crushed pistachios.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It is ready to slice once the glaze hardens.