Hello! It’s been ages, how are you all? The last time I posted, way back here in April, I was just taking off to Thailand for what was supposed to be a month long trip. Well, I missed my flight home (by accident- I promise!) and ended up staying in Asia for a total of three months, traveling on to Vietnam and the Philippines.
My trip was a lot of things- adventurous, exciting, sometimes a bit scary- but mostly, I would say it was a teacher.
Backpacking forces you to come to terms with essentials, both physical and emotional, and puts you in situations you’d otherwise never find yourself in, like the one night in Vietnam when my bus let me off at 4 AM and I had to find my hostel in the pouring rain, or the time my mask malfunctioned while diving in Thailand. I never thought of myself as a very resilient or spontaneous person by nature, yet I kept being surprised by myself. I think that’s one of the wonderful things about being alive: there is so much to learn about yourself, always, forever. You can be 21 or 67; still, there will be parts of you to keep discovering. I think that’s beautiful; at the very least, it keeps life exciting.
On that note, I have some news that may come as a bit of a shock to some of you: after blogging and working in food for almost 8 years, I’m ready for a change. I’ll always love the writing, the creative aspect of blogging and the visceral feel of flour in my hands, of putting a cake in the oven. I’ve especially enjoyed getting to meet so many of you through my videos and at various demos and workshops; truly, that’s been one of my favorite parts of this whole journey.
But I no longer feel fulfilled by this work the way I used to. I crave meaning in my life, especially from my career, and food just isn’t doing it for me. I followed my heart into this world because I believe in pursuing the things that give you joy. Now I’m following my heart down a different path.
I’m going to pursue a dream of mine from when I was a very young girl: working in the mental health field. I’m in school and I’ve started training at a volunteer counseling center. Working with people gives me so much joy and I feel extremely passionate about what I’ve learned already. I loved food, but it didn’t hold meaning for me the way this does. There’s a long road of school and work ahead of me, but the challenge is invigorating. Bring it!
That being said, I will keep blogging as a hobby, hosting demos and workshops and writing freelance. It won’t be my main focus, but it’ll always be a part of me, and I’m honoring that. I am not one thing or another; I am everything, the sum of all my very different parts. And it feels good to recognize that. 🙂
OK, on to cake! I’ve kept it from you long enough, I apologize. I’ve spoken about how much I love Concord grapes before, both here and here. In fact, when I found these at the Union Square Greenmarket in the city, I had to battle with a horde of bees just to get my hands on a box. It was intense (hint: a battle with bees is not primed in your favor) but I can’t argue- bees know what’s up. Flowers and fruits. They’re all over the good stuff.
I didn’t have enough to turn into pie or jam, so after eating a good portion of them, I put the remainder in cake. The batter’s made with cornmeal and einkorn flour, both of which give it a nutty, almost savory crumb, and it’s enriched with olive oil and sweetened with minimal sugar. That’s not to say it isn’t sweet- it is- but you could easily skip the glaze and turn this into a kind of Thanksgiving side. It would be delicious alongside cranberry sauce and turkey.
The cake gets sprinkled with raw sugar before it’s baked, which gives it a really pleasant texture, but I can’t leave well enough alone, so I used my last few grapes to make an icing to glaze the cake with. It sinks into the craggy tops of this cake and gets delightfully crackly- plus, how can you resist this color? It’s bright, it’s fuchsia, it’s all natural! I’m not saying you need the glaze here, but I’m also not saying you don’t. Make of that what you will.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I’ll be celebrating a day early with some nears and dears; there will be roast chicken (let’s be real: it’s miles better than turkey) homemade dinner rolls, garlicky green beans and two kinds of pie (which I will, of course, be baking.) I will also be bringing this cake, because the more the merrier. I hope you enjoy it.
Be back soon!
PS: I’m hosting an intimate pre-Thanksgiving pie workshop in Brooklyn- you can nab a spot here, if tickets aren’t sold out yet. Also, did you know I’m a regular contributor to The Nosher? I really love their recipes and their sister site, heyalma.com– give them a look! Lastly, I have a very comprehensive article on backpacking in the latest issue of Fleishigs Mag. You can pick up a copy at Barnes & Nobles.
Lightly adapted from here
Why I love this recipe: this cake has a nutty, corn-like flavor thanks to fine grind cornmeal and einkorn flour, and it’s minimally enriched with olive oil and buttermilk, which keep it just plush enough. Pockets of sweet-tart grapes add jammy sweetness and the glaze- fuchsia and grape flavored- is the literal icing on top.
For the cake:
- 1 cup fine grind cornmeal
- 3/4 cup einkorn flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup mild olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups seeded Concord grapes, divided
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
For the icing:
- 1/2 cup Concord grapes, seeded and mashed
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- extra grapes, for decorating
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ round pan with baking paper.
Seed the Concord grapes by cutting them in half and removing the pits with a knife tip. Don’t worry if skins slip from the flesh.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine the cornmeal, einkorn flour, baking powder, and sea salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs and 3/4 cup sugar, and beat until thick and frothy, about 2 minutes. Add buttermilk and beat to combine.
Scrape down sides, switch mixer to medium speed, and drizzle in olive oil. Switch mixer to low and add the dry mixture.
Strain any accumulated juices from the grapes, and fold all but 1/4 cup into the batter.
Scatter the remaining grapes over top of the batter. Finish with 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar. Bake until cake is a rich golden hue and the cake begins to pull away from the sides, 25 – 30 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the icing. Heat the mashed grapes in a pot until dark purple liquid bubbles up. Use the back of a wooden spoon to press out as much liquid as possible from the grapes. Strain the grape juice from the pulpy grapes and discard the pulp. Combine the grape juice with the confectioner’s sugar and hot water and mix to combine until completely smooth.
Cool cake for 30 minutes. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and let harden and set. Serve. Cake is best day-of, but will keep well covered at room temperature for a day.