This post is several months late, but you know, it’s a spice cake and those are very winter appropriate (not to mention Thanksgiving appropriate if you want an alternative to pumpkin pie!) so here it is nonetheless. This past summer was the 11th year of my annual reread of Lord of the Rings, and this time my friend Katie joined me. To make it a truly immersive Middle Earth experience, every time we finished one of the books, we’d prepare a themed meal and watch the corresponding movie. For Fellowship of the Ring, we had a dinner of mushrooms that even Farmer Maggot would envy. But for The Two Towers, we wanted something sweet.
I love when birthdays roll around — it gives me an excuse to whip up a special cake that might seem too weirdly decadent when the only other occasion is “It is Tuesday.” This month, my wonderful friend Samantha celebrated her survival of another year, thanks in no small part to the absence of overnight zombie apocalypses and/or spontaneous raptor attacks (though I also suspect she’d handle herself juuuust fine in either of those scenarios).
Samantha is also living the gluten-free life, so I made sure her birthday cake was devoid of those pesky flour products. But I didn’t want to just make a cake that tastes good “for a gluten-free dessert,” which is like saying that Leprechaun: In the Hood is good for a movie about a leprechaun in the hood. Just because something is good for what it is doesn’t mean it’s actually good. In my eyes, a truly successful dish is one that is great and wonderful all on its own, to the point where you don’t even notice it is vegetarian, or dairy-free, or is made entirely of kale and corrugated cardboard. Now that is a culinary homerun.
That is why I arrived here at this lovely citrus cake by Nigella Lawson — it is gluten-free, but it isn’t just delicious for a gluten-free cake — it is delicious in general. And that, my friends, is how you do it. And to add to the list of Reasons Why You Should Make This Cake, consider this novel concept: to get all that juicy clementine flavor, this cake uses three entire clementines, peel and all. Whoa.
I spent most of last week kicking back in Sunriver, Oregon. You guys, that place is incredible. The sky is vast, and so unmarred by big city light pollution and skyscrapers that at night, the stars look like powdered sugar dusted onto black velvet. And during the day, the sun warms the forests so that everywhere the air smells slightly of pine.
I’ve returned now to Seattle with remnants of many mosquito bites, a wicked farmer’s tan, and a hankering for these avocado paletas (or popsicles, if you will). Something about the high desert climate of Sunriver made me think of these. The hot, arid days there just demand something light and refreshing, but not overwhelmingly sweet like your traditional ice creams and sorbets. Enter the avocado.
I know. Avocado? In a dessert? But trust me, it makes sense. This won’t taste like you just froze some guacamole and put it on a stick. Think about the flavor of an avocado by itself — cool, kind of like a luxurious cucumber. Add in just a bit of simple syrup and lime for tang, and oh my. Summer treat heaven.