Cherry poppy seed cake + JOMO

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I have to say that I am digging my 30s way more than I did my 20s. Even though two annoying strands of hair magically sprouted on my chin as soon as I turned 30 and my hangover lasts for a week, this decade is way more fun.There is overall less anxiety, I am finally comfortable with my jiggly thighs and stretch marked ass, I am lucky to be in a marriage that feels like a big sleepover and even though business is floundering, I love what I do and therefore don't mind failing at it until I get it right. 

I also know what I like (freshly brewed coffee, clean sheets, books, running on the beach with my dogs, chicken curry, yoga, small dinner parties, wine and chocolate) and what I don't (wet bathrooms, aggressive people, trifle pudding- yuck! I am specifically talking about ones made with store bought custard powder and red jello o, very popular in India. yuck, yuck, yuck! and pretty much anything related to Bollywood). So it's easier to say no to things I don't want to do and that has been the greatest gift of all this decade. JOMO or joy of missing out is a real thing and there is nothing I like more than sitting out social engagements that do very little for my mental stimulation and require a ton of effort.

Like the other night, a few friends were going out for a party. The thought of dressing up and spending hours in traffic to hang out in a noisy place was not what I had in mind for a chill Friday.  Instead, I put on my pyjamas and started mixing ingredients for a simple loaf cake. It was pretty therapeutic hanging out in the kitchen alone, listening to my morning jacket, chatting with my best friend and her one year old on the phone while sipping a glass of cheap ass wine.

The cake turned out great and I loved the combination of tart cherries with the nutty poppy seeds in a lemon scented batter. The whole thing is covered in a cinnamon oat streusel and baked for about forty minutes. The cake had a depth of flavour which I wasn't expecting and loved the crunchy bits of the streusel plus it was so easy to make.  I polished off three slices in lieu of dinner and patted myself for getting adulting right.


Cherry Poppy Seed Cake

One 9-inch (23cm) loaf

Adapted from Sweeter Off the Vine by

INGREDIENTS

Streusel

1/4 cup (35g) flour

2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats, rolled

2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted, at room temperature

Cake

1 1/2 cups (210g) flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder preferably aluminum-free

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar

grated zest of 2 large lemons

1/2 cup (125ml) neutral vegetable oil such as canola or grapeseed

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup (225g) plain whole milk yogurt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups (210g) pitted fresh cherries 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan, dust with flour, and tap out any excess.

2. Make the streusel by mixing the 1/4 cup flour, oats, brown sugar, poppy seeds, cinnamon or cardamom and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and use your fingers to break the butter into small pieces, until the streusel is in small bits. Set aside.

3. To make the cake, whisk the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt together in a small bowl.

4. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together very well with your fingers, encouraging the lemon oil to saturate the sugar. Whisk in the oil, eggs, yogurt and lemon juice. Add the flour mixture all at once, stirring with a rubber spatula until it’s almost completely incorporated. Fold in half of the cherries and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

5. Dot the remaining cherries over the top and sprinkle with streusel. Bake the cake until golden brown on top and it feels set in the center, about 45 to 50 minutes. 

6. Let the cake cool on a wire rack. When cool, run a knife along the outside of the cake to help it release from the pan and tip the cake out of the pan.

Storage: The cake will keep for up to three days at room temperature, if well wrapped. You can freeze it for up to two months.