A Tea Cake of Favourite Things

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 and Sakura Cherry Glaze
Pistachio Matcha Tea Cake with Cherries and Sakura Cherry Glaze

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
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, matcha, and baking soda into a separate large bowl and stir in the sugar,
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Pour onto the cake (loaf and muffins), and allow it to set slightly before garnishing with crushed pistachios.
  4. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. It is ready to slice once the glaze hardens.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

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