I know the value of nourishment now. I used to smoke cigarettes until I got sick. I drank coffee and added packets of sugar to make it bearable. I ate pizza in my college mini fridge and ignored phone calls from my dad when he said he missed me.
I know what nourishment is now, to be mindful of the present. To pick quality. To say sorry. To spend time with my family, to remember birthdays and anniversaries and baby showers. I’m spending the week at my parents’ home in North Carolina, with my uncles and aunts and cousins from Indiana. I’m different than I was when I saw them last—at a grandfather’s funeral or at an obligatory Christmas in middle school. I’m different because I laugh more now; I can’t take life so seriously. I got a beer for my cousin who looks like me and we each took a drag on my brother-in-law’s Pall Mall.
It’s something I needed, to grow up. To try a little harder than what I was used to. I see the world in its potential rather than through my obsession with opportunity. Its potential to reincarnate itself into a thousand manifestations of God and God is a thousand manifestations of endeavor.
Trial and error.
I made this cake before I left. I kept it simple. I kept it about quality, about the ingredients I had in my pantry. I made a gateau breton, more shortbread than cake. A performance of cultured butter and confectioner’s sugar. A dance between countryside fever dreams and beach-going haze. A nod to my vacation with rum-soaked cherries. A dessert that lasts for days and is gone in minutes. Like respect, like quality, like forgiveness.
Cultured Butter Gateau Breton with Rum-Soaked Cherries
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's gateau breton recipe, with rum-soaked cherries and a tanginess of cultured butter with a high quality product from Vermont Creamery.
- ¼ cup dried cherries
- 2 TB coconut rum (or any rum or whiskey you may enjoy)
- 1 ½ c AP flour
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¾ cup white sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup culture butter, softened
- 7 egg yolks, separated
- 1 TB vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- Zest of 1 lemo
- In a small bowl, soak cherries and rum and let sit
- Prepare an 8-inch springform pan (or cake pan, if you don’t have a springform pan…no need to stress over it) with butter and parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 375*F
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, sift together flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar
- Add butter and mix on medium-low. Batter will be crumbly
- Begin adding 6 of your yolks, one at a time. Add the subsequent yolk once previous is fully mixed
- Add zest, ginger, and vanilla. Mix for a few seconds to fully incorporate
- With a sieve, drain cherries
- Fold cherries into the batter (note that the batter will be thick and sticky)
- With floured hands, pat the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top with a wetted spoon
- Now, with your seventh egg yolk, mix with a tablespoon of water and spread this glaze atop the batter
- Cut a diagonal pattern into the batter and sprinkle with a small amount of sugar
- Bake for 15 minutes at 375*F; reduce oven to 350*F and continue baking for an additional 25-30 minutes (begin checking at the 25 minute mark)
- Let cool completely and remove from pan. This is a hardy cake and will do well with a little confectioner’s sugar and perhaps a squeeze of lemon
- Cut on your diagonals to serv