She was not certain what she wanted from life, or what to expect from it, for she had seen so little of it, but she was sure that in some way—because she willed it to be so—her wants and her expectations were the same. — Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve had copious amounts of sleep or time to actually think, but I woke with a start in the middle of the night with the realization of this: in two years I will leave this country for another one. I don’t know where or how, exactly, but I know this needs to happen. Two months ago I took a holiday in France — just another week off where I was intended to eat and not think about work or work email or work meetings — and I came back completely changed. Flying into JFK I no longer regarded New York as my home; the patina of this great city, the place of which I’ve called home for the whole of my life, was suddenly dull, lackluster. The city reminded me of a woman’s lipstick kissed off one too many times, and I started to find myself getting irrationally angry with the tourists who move here, proclaim this their home because they’ve watched one too many episodes of Sex and the City. At turns I feel New York has changed and I along with it. The buildings and stores I once knew have been replaced by new shops with fancier placards, people — the wild ones — I knew have moved away, coupling off to propagate and flood Facebook with a steady stream of photos as evidence, and there is only my memory to sustain me.
Part of me, the rational part, begs me to stay. New York is easy. I’ve a great job, friends, and I know this place eyes wide shut. But I no longer want easy. I no longer want to walk around blind. I want the jolt of the fresh, frightening and new, and I want to plant roots somewhere, anywhere, else. Because I’ve never been the one who’s left, who’s practiced the business of leaving. Come 2013, I’m paying off debts, saving and will start to explore.
And that’s all I’ve got for now. A grand proclamation and the determination to leave. That, and a loaf of comforting pound cake to see me along the way.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, with modifications
For the Cake
1 1/2 cup (150g) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp freshly-grated grapefruit zest (from 1-2 large grapefruits. I used ruby grapefruit as that’s what was easily accessible in the market)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp (30ml) grapefruit juice
1/3 cup almond milk
For the Syrup
2 tbsp cane sugar
1/3 cup grapefruit juice
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5 inch with coconut oil cooking spray (feel free to butter the pan if you don’t mind dairy).
In a large bowl, rub the grapefruit zest into the sugars with your fingertips. Not only does this release the grapefruit essence and some of the juice, you’ll find your sugar wonderfully damp and fragrant. Add the sugar mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Whisk in the oil until smooth, and then add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a second bowl. In another bowl, combine the grapefruit juice and almond milk, and whisk together until combined. Add the flour and the almond milk mixtures, alternating between them, to the oil-and-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
Spread the batter in the pan, smooth the top, and rap the pan on the counter to ensure there are no trapped air bubbles. Bake for 45min-1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.
For the syrup, combine the sugar and juice in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting it onto a rack set over a tray or tin foil. Poke holes in cake with a skewer or toothpick, then spoon or brush the syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.
To be candid, I never thought I would enjoy this bread. It seemed simple enough to make and an easy carry-along to work, however, I find myself SCARFING THIS DOWN TO NO END. The mixture of the smooth and sweet oil olive and the acidic ruby grapefruit is a pleasurable one, and the syrup keeps this insanely moist.