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I sometimes feel as though I am standing at the precipice of a huge canyon. Sometimes the canyon is empty for miles; other times, there is a small camp of people far below. I shout into the canyon and my voice echoes back at me, but no one else hears it.
When I was younger, my family took a lot of camping trips, especially to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We would camp near the Teqhuamenon River and hike through dense woods to get to the river’s famous falls, then follow the path along the river for a couple of miles. I used to daydream along these hikes that I was a Native American squaw, being marched by captives to some distant village. My imagination often ran wild in those days.
Lately, however, I’ve been getting the same feeling I’d have while daydreaming and hiking- like I’ve been walking for miles, and I can hear the roar of the falls in the distance, but can’t see anything yet. I’ve come a long way but I’m still in the woods.
This blog is now roughly about a year old, and I feel as though in this last year, I’ve grown more than I have in the past five. I’ve (at last!) discovered a way of working with food that makes me happy, and while it hasn’t grown into an actual money-making career yet, I feel a lot of hope and strength that it will get there eventually. I always had faith in myself that I could do things, and go places, and be the person I wanted to be. I just took this long, meandering hike while getting there. I spent too many years not concentrating on a career that fulfilled me, and instead fulfilled myself with relationships and travel. While I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything, I feel like it’s truly time to put the last decade behind me and start Getting Stuff Done.
This lime poke cake reminds me a little of what this site has meant to me in the last year. I started tinkering around with a totally different cake recipe. I took what I had- limes, and a cast iron pan, and a lot of powdered sugar left over from holiday baking- and turned a cake recipe originally by Thomas Keller into something that fit me, and my strengths and my tastes.
While baking, this cake morphs into three distinct parts; the sugar and zest on top crisps and crusts as it bakes, and snaps away with each bite. The center is not only soft and cake-ish, but almost gooey, and decadent. The crust of the cake smooths out during baking into a toothsome texture, but still not too sweet. It’s just perfection, and I’m thankful I made the Big Man take a few bites, which means it wasn’t just me who finished the entire thing off in one night.
The thing about beginnings is that sometimes you don’t know when you’re at one, until the beginning part has moved away and you find yourself a little further down the line.
Cast-iron Lime Poke Cake
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ plus ⅓ cup white sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime zest, divided
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
for the lime syrup:
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the sugar, egg, 1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lime zest and vanilla, whisking until creamy and thick. Add in the milk and coconut oil with a wooden spoon till combined.
- Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients with the wet, being careful not to overmix. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8” cast iron pan, and pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the lime syrup. In a small pan over medium heat, heat the lime juice until steaming. Add the ⅔ cups white sugar and stir to dissolve. Let simmer for one minute or so, making sure all the sugar has completely cooked into the syrup, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- After 30 minutes, remove the cake from the oven. Using a chopstick or the end of a small wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the lime syrup in top, making sure each hole has been saturated with the syrup. Top with the lime zest and powdered sugar combo, then place the cake back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.When storing, keep the top of the cake loosely wrapped. The crispness on top will fade if the cake is left too tightly stored.