Or The First Cake I Made In a Long Time During a Family Holiday, because it sounds 100 times more special that way.
A bit more than a while. That would be a good way to describe this period of absence. The air is heavy with moisture and the air con remote is a touch too far. Sweat is threatening to ruin the afternoon, but I’m learning to be ok with that again. The heat is foreign, but this is home. It has been too long since Home. Having just touched down here after a 10-day trip to New Zealand, it all does feel a little strange; the past couple of months have been saturated with train hopping and exploring more of the never-touched or heard or loved. From London to Germany to Austria and New Zealand. Never has a heart been so full or a conscience so sharp. I miss it, but Home is lovely and missed, too. Soon the plane will be calling again, and the suitcase will be bursting at the seams. Now? Now is for Here. And that means reminiscing the sweetness of the long gone with the pictures you see below, starting with Germany and ending with Queenstown. It’s a story starting with rustic pre-Christmas German charm, bellies warm with mulled wine and lips sweetened with lebkuchen (gosh I miss that so much already), then sun and adrenalin shaking up the frame in a town of all-smiles.
In short, a whirlwind of a year. From travelling a lot more to publishing my first book, to more moments of simultaneous despondence and ecstasy, to meeting someone special, doubting and then hoping, and then ultimately trusting. I have my doubts, like those concerning the western world and North Korea and the circulation of science and technology in the hands of people most can’t will themselves to trust. But perhaps the silver lining is trust. A lot of hope is stabilised with just that– trust in oneself, in those who love you, in love itself.
11.49pm. 11 minutes to 2017, here in Singapore at least, and I sit here reminiscing bits and bobs and splatters of time, grateful for what has gone and what has to come. What exactly remains unsaid, and that’s the way it will always be. The most important thing is to be wild, be the best of yourself. As of now there is no standard list of resolutions, no I Will Be Fitter or even a I Will Be Better or I Will Stop Judging and Being a Bad Sister. Which sounds ridiculous, like I’m some downgraded version of yesteryears, the worst of all the possible Alex’s. But I see the new year as a chance to hone previously set goals, and to love what I love with even more fervour and passion. I want to continue the upkeep of this blog, to weave stories of food and knowledge and life and love and science. To understand, then create. To explore and wander.
The last morning in New Zealand came and I decided to make something simple but festive. A tribute to both Christmas and New Year’s, with a gold sparkle and kick.
The top is crispy, the middle mottled with brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and plenty of desiccated coconut. A bite takes you to a good middle state of longing and bliss– post-Christmas, Pre-NYE. This is perfect with coffee (or champagne, hey), a dollop of yoghurt of coconut cream, and more grated coconut on top.
Coconut Molasses Cake
260g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (alternatively, use self-raising flour and leave out the leavening agents)
160g sugar– 125g white and 35g soft brown sugar (subs: coconut/maple sugar)
1 tsp each of ginger and cinnamon (optional)
130g butter (sub: vegan butter/ Earth balance/ coconut oil)
120ml blackstrap molasses
120ml milk of choice (normal/plant-based)
100g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
2 eggs (sub: flax eggs– make one by mixing 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water and letting sit for at least 5 minutes)
In a microwave, heat together the water and butter until both are melted. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and grease a 9×9 or 7×13-inch baking pan. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter-water mix, then mix in the rest of the ingredients on the list. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-28 minutes, then take out and leave to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve with coconut cream or yoghurt, grated dark chocolate and more desiccated coconut.