Greetings, dear readers, from the depths of (thesis draft) chapter seven. This chapter is taking me what feels like ages and ages. But we’re about halfway through and I’m busy re-familiarising myself with arguments about family meals and tables so I can rewrite the first few sections of the chapter so they make more sense (and are not simply collections of field notes and interviews and form an actual argument). Then I’ll be moving on to talk about “proper meals” (and then the last findings chapter on packed lunches…). It’s going to be a busy writing weekend so I can get everything finished by Sunday and then draft a paper for publication and start the packed lunch chapter. Like I said, crazy busy at present. (I know it’ll all be worth it in the end but wow, it’s sort-of-rather-very stressful at the moment – which is also why I am obviously also socialising like a queen bee, the more work I have and the more stressed I am, the more I want to go out!)
It’s fun going through all my data again and being reminded of all the amazing practices and ideas I witnessed (plus some of the stranger things). Unfortunately, deciding what to include and what to exclude takes time and bravery. I am always worried about leaving something important out, or missing a relevant example, or using a piece of the existing literature (what if I’ve interpreted it incorrectly?!). Writing a thesis is all about decisions and they’re hard ones to make. Plus deciding that THIS IS THE ARGUMENT takes quite a lot of faith in oneself. I know what I saw/witnessed but what if the examiner disagrees with me? Such questions plague my 1am frazzled brain.
Fortunately, at such times, there is this cake. (In truth, there is always cake, but this one is particularly lovely in the early summer.) My friend H, who is also a PhD on my course, requested the recipe after I gave her some to sample on Wednesday and then reminded me that I still hadn’t shared it so here it is.
This is pretty simple cake to make. It only takes one bowl (always winning) and can be made with a wooden spoon. I’ve made it three times in the last month or so (twice this week in fact) and I thoroughly recommend it. It’s dense, slightly crunchy with poppyseeds, and the blueberries are like nuggets of sweetness that surprise and delight.
The original version of this cake came from Smitten Kitchen and you can find it here. Whilst I love pound cake, I love poppyseed cake more and so this is a perfect combination of the two. It holds up well in travel and improves on the second day. Things to note: I halved the recipe Deb made, mostly because I never have occasions for loads of cake and her recipe made loads. This still makes more than enough (the one I made earlier in the week fed tutors, the netball team, and some PhD’s) and cut into around 10-14 reasonable slices. I worked out the gram measurements from cups – the flour and sugar are both 1 1/2 cups worth (if you prefer to make it with those). You can obviously play around with flavours here – oranges and lemons, frozen raspberries (also a cupful), white chocolate (about 1/2 cup) also all work in various combinations in this cake.
Blueberry, Lime and Poppyseed Pound Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
170g butter, unsalted, soft
115g cream cheese (philadelphia)
325g golden caster sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla paste
215g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one large lime (two limes if yours are teensy)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp poppyseeds
Preheat the oven to 175C and grease a bundt tin with butter. (My bundt tin is 21cm across so of the slightly smaller variety).
Place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. (You can use electric beaters for this too but if the butter is very soft, a spoon works just as well.)
Add in the sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth. The sugar will mostly disappear and the mixture will become whiter and smoother.
Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
Add in the flour, lime zest and vanilla paste. Give everything a good beat, until all the flour in incorporated.
Lastly, fold in the poppyseeds and then the blueberries.
Scoop the batter (it’s fairly thick) into your greased tin. Smooth it with a spatula.
Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour. The cake will be risen and golden. A skewer inserted will come out clean and the cake will have pulled away from the sides of the tin when it’s done. Place it, still in the tin, on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Now, I glazed the particular cake that is featured here but it’s not really necessary – only if you’re so inclined. It works perfectly just plain. But if you do want to glaze it, I used 75g icing sugar (golden kind which is why the icing isn’t white) and the zest of half a large lime. I then added in about a tablespoon of hot water just to get the consistency I was after. Feel free to do what suits you.