Friday, September 12, 2014

flaky mooncake

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was last Monday.  It's sort of like the Chinese version of Thanksgiving -- a time for reflection, giving, and family.


I celebrated in my own way by reflecting a little on this blog of mine.

Sometimes, I click the"older posts" arrow on my blog a bunch of times until I get back to freshman year.



Sometimes, I have this urge to delete all of my old blog posts and start fresh, so I can have one of those pristine, consistent blogs like Smitten Kitchen or Martha Stewart.


I want to erase all of the times that 14-year-old me gave embarrassing Instagram "lifestyle" posts, the times my pictures were taken with a Pentax point-and-shoot, the times I listed "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" as an ingredient, the times my font size was all wonky and I tried to sound like the Barefoot Contessa (and failed).  

... but then there'd be nothing.  So I stop, and restrain myself from pressing delete.  


As tantalizing as the idea of a fresh start is, I don't think I'll ever do it.   There's something endearing about those old recipes, and having them lined up all neatly in order chronicles my life all the way from ratatouille to flaky mooncakes. All the way from being awkward during my Freshman Orientation scavenger hunt to sitting here as a Senior in the library, tapping away at my college applications.  It's my whole high school existence archived in buttercream, brownie batter, and banoffee banana bread.  It includes all of those milestones:  finding my blogging voice, learning how to get a DSLR, going to the emergency room while making layer cake, and getting butter inextricably wedged into the dials of my camera. 


My backdrop has evolved from a leftover piece of poster-board from my 8th grade science fair project to the fancy-pants piece of marble that my dad got me for Christmas.  


Yes, the perfectionist in me will surely look back at this time with this same sort of head-shaking disdain in a few months when I think I've got funnier stories, better backdrops, and tastier recipes than I do now.  But isn't that the whole point of a blog?  We are moving onwards and upwards from here!


Here's a tasty recipe for flaky mooncakes, traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Something that hasn't changed much since I started blogging is that I've still got to get this timing thing down so I can get you all these holiday recipes before the holiday happens.  Planning, someday it will happen.  Anyways, I was going to bring these in to my Chinese class, but ended up eating them all singlehandedly with my mom (sorry).  The flaky crust is surprisingly simple to make -- using an oil and water dough technique (much less tedious than rolling puff pastry.  Give it a try!

With love, 
Erica



This recipe makes four moon cakes, so feel free to double.


Ingredients

water dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter
1/2 cup water

oil dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter (melted)

filling:
-red bean paste
-lotus paste
-coconut paste (recipe below)

topping:
one egg (for egg wash)
sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the water dough, mix the flour, sugar, and shortening together roughly.  Pour all of the water in at once and knead to form a soft dough. Set aside.

For the oil dough, mix the flour and melted shortening together to form dough.

Dust the water dough with flour and roll into a 1/2 inch thick circle.  Roll the oil dough into a ball, place in the middle of the water dough, and seal it inside of the water dough.

Roll out the new ball of dough (the oil dough wrapped in the water dough), into an oval shape.  Then, roll it up like a swiss roll.  Turn it lengthwise, and roll out into an oval again.  Roll up swiss roll-style once more, and roll out into a 1/2 inch thick oval once more.

Cut the oval into four even sections, fill each section with filling of choice and seal.  Place seal side down on a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pastries.  Brush each pastry with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Coconut paste:
1/2 cup cream of coconut or condensed milk
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla, matcha powder, or cocoa powder for flavoring (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together into a paste.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

green tea frappucino bars


One of life's more important questions:

If you were a Disney princess which one would you want to be?


Sometimes I want to be Jasmine, running around the house in my glittery balloon pants (classy PJ pants), showing the sultan who's boss, and chilling with my awesome cat.

Other days I want to be Belle.  Telling that Gaston guy he's a jerk, being the nerdy Disney princess, and getting sung to and fed by dancing silverware.

Pocahontas is a compelling choice too.  Down with global warming and the evils of colonialism!  I'd get to talk to animals (and not in the loopy way that Snow White does), wear turquoise everything (my favorite), and paint with all the colors of the wind (that's a lot of colors).


The only thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn't want to be Sleeping Beauty (Aurora... but who remembers that girl's name?).  Hopefully I don't lose readers over this, but she was by far the lamest Disney Princess.  She just slept for a while and looked pretty... that's it.


But today, I'm feeling like a total modern day pre-Prince Charming Cinderella.  That's because my oven's been in overdrive lately and started spewing smoke so I had to clean it.  Currently I'm sitting here in my 8-year old baby blue dress with my hair in a huge messy bun and soot covering every inch of my body.


Anyways, my hour spent cleaning the oven was totally worth it because I got to make these blondies afterwards!

Remember my super-easy blondie recipe?

I pimped it out with some matcha powder, white chocolate chips, and marshmallows.  BAM.  Starbucks' Green Tea Frappucino in bar form.  You're welcome.


With love,
Erica

Ingredients
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Butter an 8x8 square pan.
Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Once melted, add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in egg and then vanilla.  Add salt, stir in flour and matcha powder until the whole thing is a light green color.  Fold in white chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Pour into a prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set in the middle.
Cool and then slice into squares.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Friday, August 22, 2014

guest post: gluten free overnight swirly blueberry buns

Ok, quick update before getting into this delicious guest post by the beautiful and talented Thea of Baking Magique. Last time we talked, I was still off in California stargazing. Since then, I finished my research project on supernovae, went to Disneyland (!!) and visited my cousins in Honolulu.  Now I'm finally home, working at the restaurant, facing the ginormous mess in my closet, and oh yeah, baking like a mad woman (I've been away from my oven for over a month! Can't help it). 

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Hello everyone!


I’m Thea and I am the writer of a gluten free baking blog called Baking Magique. I always get excited when I find another teen food blogger in the internet world. I can’t remember how I found Erica’s blog but  I was stuck immediately because of her personal posts and unique recipes. Even though most of Erica’s recipes aren’t gluten free I still get inspiration to use in my own gluten free baking experiments.


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Some notes about the recipe:
1. It’s made with fresh yeast because that’s what I’m used to bake with and I prefer it over dry yeast in gluten free baking.


2. I think it’s much easier to measure my ingredients by weight and in this recipe I’ve included units in both oz and grams. I created the recipe using grams and therefore it will be most accurate if you use grams. For the filling I’ve also used cups for some ingredients.


3. Gluten free baking is very different from ”normal” baking. The dough won’t look like a dough at all before rising, it will rather look like a batter. But whatever you do, don’t add more flour because that will give you rock hard and dry buns! Trust the recipe and trust me. I promise you, these buns will taste divine if you follow the recipe.


4. This is not really about the recipe but you may have noticed in the pictures above that I used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper... DON’T DO THAT! I was out of parchment paper and had to do it but it’s not fun to tear off the foil from the buns when they come out of the oven...


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Gluten Free Overnight Swirly Blueberry Buns
12 pieces


50 g (1,8 oz) butter
350 g (12,3 oz) milk
12 g (0,4 oz) yeast


1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt


100 g (3,5 oz) buckwheat flour
60 g(2,1 oz) rice flour
60 g (2,1 oz) potato starch


15 g (0,5 oz) psyllium husk


100 g (3,5 oz)  soft butter
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp potato starch


Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the milk. Heat to 100°F/38°C

In a large bowl crumble in the fresh yeast. Pour the liquid over and whisk until the yeast is completely dissolved in the water.

Add the freshly ground cardamom, sugar and sea salt to the bowl and whisk.

Then stir in the rice flour, buckwheat flour and potato starch.

Stir in the psyllium husk powder very quickly so that no clumps will form.

Cover the bowl with cling film and let rest for 1 hour. Then put it in the fridge over night(9-12) hours.

In the morning: Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 12*14 inch / 30*35 cm rectangle. Turn it a lot as you roll it out and add more flour when needed. You do not want it to stick to the surface.


Mix the soft butter, raw cane sugar, vanilla powder and vanilla extract in a small bowl with a fork. Spread it out on the dough. In a small bowl gently mix the fresh blueberries, potato starch and powdered sugar. Evenly spread out the blueberries on half of the rectangle. Fold over the other half.

Cut off a little of the sides and then cut the rectangle into 12 equally big strands.
Twist the strands by gently rolling them on the work surface and then roll together to a swirly bun.

Add some blobs of butter on the parchment paper on a baking tray and sprinkle some raw cane sugar on top. Place the buns on the tray and cover with a tea towel. Let rest for 1 1/2 hour in a warm and non drafty place. Preheat your oven to 435°F/225°C.

Brush the buns with egg wash and sprinkle raw cane sugar on top.
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Note: These buns are best eaten while still warm from the oven but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days and they will still be delicious!


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© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

weekly inspiration: an imperfect picnic


I wanna have an imperfect picnic.

Minimal planning and minimal expectations, maximal food consumption.

The kind of picnic where olives get trampled in the grass, but we don't pick them up so squirrels just scurry over and pucker their faces on the sour olive juice. 

The kind of picnic where I have this maple butter smeared all over chin but nobody tells me about it because it gives my face a nice glow. 
The kind of picnic where we all sigh about how we're never going to finish all the food... and then eat even more at the end of the night.


The menu wouldn't be planned or balanced, we'd just bring buckets of good food and hope tastes good outside. There wouldn't be any snooty picnic foods like white bean salads in mason jars or crust-less cucumber sandwiches. Maybe I'd bring spanakopita, salami, and the stereotypical picnic baguette for shits-and-giggles. Maybe I'd bring cold cinnamon rolls and lo mein, haphazardly scooped into Ziploc containers. We'd eat a whole watermelon with metal spoons.  We'd bring a can whipped cream and spray it on fresh strawberries.

For dessert, we'd share a thermos of wildly thick hot chocolate, we'd eat Missisissippi mud pie and caramel peach cobbler with our fingers, starting daintily with the crusts, and then barbarically grabbing irregular clumps from the gooey center. 

I'd wear an old soft t-shirt, because I know I'll leave with blueberry stains on my clothes, but I'd wear my fancy and impractical orange heels, because this picnic is nonetheless an occasion.

By sunset, all of my picnic-goers are in a blissful food coma, so we all just kick it in the grass for a while as our brains melt a little and we tell secrets, stories, and laugh for no reason at all, stretched out in the dwindling sunshine.

Even though we're stuffed and have vowed never to eat again, we would build a fire and eat our weight in toasted marshmallows. Then, once it's dark, we will channel our inner pyromaniacs and throw random things in the fire and just quietly watch them burn and lull as the night sweeps over us all.

Then we'd go home, breadcrumbs in our hair, smelling like charcoal, fingers slightly sticky with cobbler and watermelon juice.

Would you go on an imperfect picnic with me?

With love,
Erica

(Pictures from the Davis Farmer's Market)

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

weekly inspiration


Is there any smell in the world better than the smell of fresh waffle cones?

I miss baking so much out here I'm actually going insane.  I'm 85% sure that my hands are searching for measuring spoons to level and frosting-laden spoons to lick while I sleep in my dorm here.  I was planning on making a batch of my oreo cheesecake brownies for my study group in the dorm kitchen, but the RA wouldn't let me use the oven (or even the microwave) due to "safety issues."  I thought that was funny for a second... I've probably opened the oven more times than most thirty-year-olds.  And c'mon... we're basically functional adults, we're using telescopes that cost insane amounts of dollars and Bunsen burners on the daily, I'm pretty sure we can use a microwave without burning our faces off. But they didn't buy it, so now I just have a big, sad bag of (now half-eaten) Double-Stuf Oreos and chocolate chunks sitting in my dorm room. 

Regardless, I've been doing a ton of daydreaming about the baking rampage I'm going to go on when I get home.

I've been dreaming up a lot of "fusion" recipes lately -- mixing Japanese and American classic recipes into crazy mash-ups.  I don't want to give all of my secrets away, but prepare to see mochi, tempura batter, and matcha powder where you've never seen it before -- along the lines of this miso caramel.

I want to venture into the world of dairy-free desserts. My mom and I shared an amazing vegan cheesecake before I left.  A lot of recipes use coconut milk, soaked nuts, bananas, or even tofu as a dairy replacement. I want to try them all.  I'm going to start with this, this, and this. 

But I could never go no-dairy myself.

Ice cream french toast... what the what.

I also want to churn my own butter. 

I also went to this California chain called C.R.E.A.M (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me) with my roommates. Think Cold Stone, but cheaper and for ice cream cookie sandwiches. Yeah.  I got there early when the whole place smelled like fresh baked cookies. Coffee ice cream smooshed between two warm snickerdoodles - perfect. I'm going to start experimenting with my own ice cream sandwiches (check these out).


I went on a day trip to San Francisco on Saturday.  Food.nerd.paradise.  I went to Boudin sourdough factory and watched those bread baskets swirl above my head for a solid 20 minutes, and got lost in the pools of chocolate at the Ghiradelli factory.  Sourdough waffles sound like the move.

Even though I've been deprived of my oven, I've been making the most of the dining hall here. Speaking of waffles, they have a spankin' "make-your-own-waffle" station here.  I like to make mine monstrous... with four pats of butter, every square inch covered in whipped cream, a hefty scoop of cherry pie filling, and a thorough drenching in syrup... stargazing counts as cardio right?  The cobbler here is also pretty great, I was a total jerk last night and scooped all of the majestic crumbly topping into my bowl, just leaving the stewed apricots for the rest of the line.

my homemade postcards
I swear I'm not always thinking about food/eating food here... I've been sending a bunch of letters home which is fun.  If you're looking for some letter inspiration, check out Mysterious Letters, it's exactly what it sounds like, two dudes send great letters to strangers and blog about it. 

With love,
Erica


© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

banana oatmeal nutella pancakes

Lately, I've been doing a lot of "in the larger scheme of things..." thinking.  Here at astronomy camp, we've been talking a lot about big things, like black holes, supernovae, and ominous things like "dark matter" and "dark energy."


Thinking "in the larger scheme of things" can make me feel small and insignificant.  I am smaller than a dustbunny of a dustbunny of a dustbunny in our solar system, which is one of many in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of billions of billions of galaxies in a universe that is constantly expanding.  We are living on the periphery of a very average galaxy, orbiting a very average star... puts my seething rage toward the dude who took my java chip frappuccino at Starbucks yesterday into perspective.

That's the thing...if I'm so incredibly small, do things really matter? 


The universe isn't going to care if I smiled at you on the Metro.  Space aliens will never find out if I replaced the toilet paper roll.  Mars wouldn't know if I wrote you a handwritten letter or a sloppy Facebook message.  The black hole at the center of our galaxy definitely doesn't give a damn whether I washed my hair this morning (thank god).

I guess this is one way of looking at things, "in the larger scheme." But the other geeky way of looking at our place in the universe is that every action has a reaction.  Every shake and rattle sets off another and another.  In this scenario, the little things do matter.

Although the former way of thinking about it is tempting (and gives me an excuse not to wash my hair so often), I'm pretty convinced that the latter is better. 






Think about flipping pancakes. The trick to making good pancakes is to wait until you see little bubbles form around the edges of the pancake. These super tiny bubbles signify that the pancake is "flippable."
These bubbles are smaller than my pinky fingernail.  In the "larger scheme of things" they are  practically invisible. However, that little bubble makes the difference between a big, shriveled, goopy mess of pancake batter and a glorious, fluffy stack of pancakes. The difference between a grouchy, hungry morning spent washing batter off my black yoga pants, or leisurely watching pools of butter melt atop fresh flapjacks while sipping a mug of coffee. 

With love, 
Erica


Ingredients
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 banana, mashed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Nutella
Stir together all of the ingredients except for the Nutella in a large bowl until well combined.  Gently swirl in the Nutella.
Spoon the batter into a hot skillet over medium heat.  Cook each pancake until the batter starts to bubble at the edges, flip and cook until golden brown.  Continue cooking remaining pancakes. 
Enjoy with butter and maple syrup! (and perhaps some more Nutella!)

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

shake it like a polaroid picture




I've been at astronomy camp for the past week, out in the California desert where the sky gets pitch black at night and uncovers a blanket of stars -- unlike back home in D.C. where the only star I can see is the sun.

Today, instead of giving y'all the low down on all of the supernerdy things I'm doing out here, I'm going to tell you the three reasons why I have a newfound love for Polaroid photography.

1) Polaroids are small 

I used to carry my DSLR camera around my neck on all of my adventures, but then I realized that I was doing all of my adventuring through the lens of my camera instead of my own pupils.  Lugging around a DSLR was like putting a wall between myself and the world in more ways than one -- it instantly identified me as a tourist, it restricted the activities I could do, and caused heaps of anxiety.

"Crap, I can't go swimming, because a beach bum might steal my pricey DSLR/sand will scratch the lens/it will get stung by a jelly fish (?)."


"Shoot, I can't dance with you, street performer, because dancing with a DSLR around my neck is not only awkward, but there is an 80% chance I will smash your tooth out with it."

"Nooooo! Did I get guacamole on the lens?!"

Polaroids are small, hardy and can be tossed in a bag or bike basket or fanny pack with ease. They're also pretty resistant to guacamole.  


2) Polaroids are inefficient.

It's easy for me to get snap-happy with a memory card that holds 2000+ photos, or worse, my iPhone camera.  However, with my Polaroid, I can only take ten pictures per film pack.  It forces me to slow down and think "do I really need a picture holding a bell pepper that's shaped like a heart?" (yes) "do I really need an artsy picture of myself holding my morning coffee?" (no) "...but my nails look real nice today" (still no).  It weeds out the multitude of squirrel pictures, selfies and "artsy" cappuccino pictures that used to be mindlessly downloaded onto my computer never to be looked at again. Instead, I get 10 or so thoughtful pictures that sum up the day.

3) Polaroids don't always work

My camera's fussy- sometimes it decides it just doesn't want to print me a picture.  This happened yesterday when I went to a minor league baseball game in Sacramento - I had my camera poised to take the perfect shot of the fireworks at the end of the game... and then it decided not to print.  But then, I got to lie back and enjoy the fireworks fully without worrying about getting the perfect snapshot.  Even when the pictures do print they don't turn out crystal clear -- there are always strange little light squiggles over people faces, or little blurred halos in the center of the frame(check out my dismal food photography of a strawberry crepe).  How is this a plus?  It lets me relax and enjoy the moment, not for the picture-perfectness of it, but for the moment itself.

Polaroids are messy, fussy, and imperfect - much like the memories they capture.  Also much like the memories, they are unique and singular.  I can't print out a million copies of a Polaroid picture, but I can mail it off to a friend or tuck it away in a book for myself, giving that imperfect snapshot meaning and value that a digital picture can never have.  These pictures can't be photoshopped or airbrushed - but even when they've got red eye and light splotches, they can transport me back to the moment that I took them... and isn't that the whole point of a picture?

With love,
Erica

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Friday, June 20, 2014

protein pancakes









It has been almost two weeks since I've been on the Internet -- I'm going to tell you what I’ve been up to.

Not much. But then again, a whole lot.

I actually was somewhat busy -- just two Thursdays ago I took my Chinese final and went to prom (I'll save that story for another day).  Then, I just sort of dropped off the face of the Earth.  I worked part-time as a hostess at a cafe, did some reading (just finished Paper Towns by John Green), snapchatted, did some almond butter stress eating, and a whole lot of wandering.

Yesterday, I wandered down the street aimlessly, first into a CVS to buy a few pointless things like tanning oil and Icebreakers gum.  Then I talked to some of the volunteers collecting signatures outside the metro station for a good while about string quartets and the weather.  Then, I wandered downtown and had Mediterranean style tacos with my mom at 3pm.  Leisurely summer livin' at its finest.

A few nights ago, I got into bed at 10:10 p.m.  Turned off the lights.  My room was nice and warm because I never turn the AC on.  I stayed up until midnight just watching Breakfast at Tiffany's on my laptop and then drifted off to sleep. 

It's like time just slowed down twofold.  My brain cells were burnt and fizzled to a crisp.  The thought of sitting down and writing made my stomach turn.  I ate a lot of Popsicles.

And then I realized that I had not been blogging and felt totally ungrounded and lonely -- so I’m back!  I'm looking forward to going on wild summer adventures and telling you all about them.  I'm going to bake luscious cakes and eat them and tell you all about those too. I don't regret my disappearance; I think it was healthy to do a bit of wandering.  Now, I'm ready to get caught up in the world again like I'm known to do and attack whatever comes my way and report to you all about it.

Speaking of attack, this is total "attack food."  These protein pancakes have two ingredients, protein powder, egg whites, and pure power.  Eat these for breakfast and you will feel like a literal beast for the rest of the day.

With love,
Erica





Ingredients

1 scoop protein powder
3 egg whites

Beat the protein powder and egg whites together well in a bowl. Add a dash of cinnamon/vanilla/stevia to taste.  Heat a bit of coconut oil in a skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side over medium heat.

Feel free to jazz these up with chocolate chips, blueberries, bananas... whatever floats your boat.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

moka cake


We were talking about what our biggest fears were. 
His was spitting cobras.  
I racked my brain for mine.  

 
I'm scared of a lot of irrational things. 

Poking my eye out with an umbrella, eating a spider in my sleep, getting lost in the supermarket. 

But my biggest fear is forgetting things.


“Forget” is such an ugly word.   I think we all have this fear of forgetting.  My dad digs his nose into World War II history books, as to not forget his mother who fled across the German border.  The dishwasher, Jose at the restaurant I work at wears a wooden cross around his neck so he doesn’t forget about his children in Mexico.


I’ve become a compulsive note taker to cope with this fear.  My white bed sheets are strewn with legal pads and deep blue pen marks.   I often wake up with paper cuts on my shins and squiggly ballpoint scribbles on my thighs.  I have weeks and months and years of scraps saved by now. 


Last weekend, I had dance performance at school.  I wrote a note to myself backstage and tucked it into my leotard.  My heart sunk when I undressed and found the note as a soggy, sweat-stained piece of paper, the words lost in an indecipherable blue ink swirl on my ribcage.  I don't remember what it said. 



I write on my hands, I write on the insoles of my shoes.  I scrawled the word "Bunky” on the back of my Metro card.   There is an old man who wears wife beaters and takes drop-in advanced adult ballet with me.  He wears loafers instead of ballet shoes and, thus can't point his feet.  He has a faded tattoo that spells "Bunky" on one of his arms.  I don’t want to forget him because I want to learn how to feel the music like he does, and stay on my feet even when I can’t touch my toes.  



I keep some of these things because I think they might make a good story someday.  But most of them won’t.  I just like to collect them.  First date, they talked about alligator skins and she chewed on ice.  End of story.  It’s still worth remembering though.

Unfortunately, I never wrote down the recipe for this cake.  I'm going to do the best I can to remember what I did.  

With love, 
Erica


Ingredients

sponge cake: 
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup self-raising flour

custard:
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla


coffee icing:
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
4-4 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp vinegar
First, prepare the sponge cake.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 11x7 baking pan.  Beat the sugar and butter together in a stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time.  Add the flour until the mixture is homogenous.  Spread into pan and bake for 25 minutes.  Once done, set aside. 

Next, prepare the vanilla custard.

Have eggs ready in a bowl, and set aside where it will be within reach.

Using a whisk, combine milk, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat on stovetop. Allow milk to scald (heat to the point when tiny bubbles form around edges of pan). Whisk occasionally to prevent cornstarch from clumping on bottom edges of pan.

Remove milk mixture from heat, preferably to a burner that's turned off.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of scalded milk mixture into eggs using whisk, then introduce eggs into milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking milk mixture constantly.

Immediately return pan to heat and whisk gently until custard thickens, another two or three minutes. Do not allow to boil. (If you find that you have egg white strands in custard, feel free to pass it through a fine-mesh sieve into a different bowl now.)

Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.

Next make the coffee icing.
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the coffee granules, cocoa powder, milk and vinegar. With the mixer on low, gradually add icing sugar until combined, then increase speed and gradually add coffee mixture. Beat on high until fluffy and well-combined. You may need to add more sifted icing sugar if your icing is too runny. It should be easy to spread but stiff enough to hold its shape.


Assemble the cake. 


Spoon some warm espresso on the cake layers and allow it to sink into the sponge.  Stack the cake layers with the custard between each layer and frost with the coffee buttercream!



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