Olive Oil + Tea Cake with Tea-Glazed Strawberries

Olive Oil Cake and Tea Glazed Strawberries 6-6

 

From my dad and his mother, I inherited small bones, straight dark hair, and a crazed tendency to worry about everything. So when I say that I am scared whatever the future holds, my mom hands the phone over to him. There’s always this little unspoken space, a no-go area, when I’m talking to them. We never talked about the bad things that happened to me, when I was a young teenager and the other thing during undergrad. If we don’t talk about them, they never happened. Instead, a tiny awkward silence grew between us and filled the space where acknowledging those things should have been.

The truth is, I am choosing silence these days. Six months ago, give or take, I was sitting at my desk, reading Facebook posts that reminded me I was supposed to order my graduation supplies by some specific date that I’ve forgotten now. I felt tired. I’d begun to pull the little hangnails off my left thumb again. Facebook also informed me that there was some sort of a graduation gift from the school, a mug. People were pleading for extra tickets so they could have more loved ones watch them to walk. I probably couldn’t even use all of the tickets allotted to me. More hangnail pulling ensued. It sort of hit me then: why I am doing this? I was free! Oh, I know, how silly, how empty, how clichéd, to say that after some life has changed in some way. What does it even mean? The more I tried to explain it to myself, the more hysterically happy I felt. I wanted to laugh but there was a lump in my throat. FREE! Is there a word that so perfectly expresses it’s own meaning? It sounds like a shout, with that joyful syllable at the end you can stretch out as long as you want. I didn’t need that gilt-lettered mug. I wasn’t going to do the ceremonial graduation walk because I couldn’t see the point. For the first time in ever, there wasn’t a person I was responsible to or for. Why I hadn’t realized this before, what this freedom means? In part, it is letting go of what’s expected, of someone else’s notion of ‘perfect’. It is nearly impossible for another know everything you’ve been through, the places your thoughts and emotions have taken you. Who then can say what sort of life you should pursue?

So now, I try to silence the noise around me. For the longest time – a short lifetime, a growing up – I thought that if I followed the prescribed path, if I played the part of good daughter, good student, good partner, karma would send me safety, security, and unconditional love. However, when the person you thought you loved from the moment you first saw each other on a sunset-lit street in Berkeley until the howling windy night he abruptly walked away from you, less than a month before 1L finals, you experience for yourself how the world doesn’t work that way. And then you spend the next two years hoping some sort of answer would appear that would make everything that came before – all of it, not just that – make sense. Yet, no matter how many times you stare at the sky or the ceiling with tears in your eyes, no signs appear. Finally, when you have no more tears left and you’ve stopped looking up for answers, you look back down at your own hands. You don’t even recognize them anymore. How did you get here? Most importantly, where do you go from here? Not to take up the sentimental notion of a journey or becoming more yourself, as if “life” or “you” have an end goal. You have to figure out living the sort of life you want, and how to get there instead. You have to believe that you are capable and work at changing what you think needs to changed.
 
Eggs in carton 1

I don’t think it will be easy. There’s security in whatever path that your society/culture/family/friends prescribe. And without it, there will be days and weeks of doubt, exhaustion, and loneliness. Your confidence will be shaken. That’s o.k. Use it as fuel for the fight, to work harder and become stronger. As for me, I have a lot of ideas and hopes and dreams, all of that. And even though I’m doubtful and scared, I’ve never felt such peace either. I don’t know what that means exactly, it is just a feeling. Wish me luck? I’ll need it.

 

Olive Oil Cake and Tea Glazed Strawberries

 


Olive Oil Tea Cake + Tea-Glazed Strawberries
For Cake
6 tbsp milk
1 tbsp black leaves, preferably Darjeeling (!) or Earl Grey
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine-grained salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup olive oil
For Tea-Syrup
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp black tea, preferably Darjeeling or Earl Grey

Preheat oven to 325°F. Oil a 9 * 5 loaf pan.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan. When it just starts to simmer, turn the temperature down to the lowest setting, add tea leaves and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, let stand for 3 – 4 minutes (3 for Darjeeling, 4 for Earl Grey or other black). Strain milk, pressing down on the tea leaves to extract the most flavor. Set milk aside, discard used tea leaves.
In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. In a small bowl, combine eggs, yolk, olive oil, and milk. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry mix. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester poked into the center comes out clean. Test at 40 minutes.*
While the cake is baking, make syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves into water. Add tea leaves, heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Strain out and discard tea leaves, return liquid to medium heat and heat until the syrup is just thick enough to coat a spoon.
When the cake is done, cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, pour 2 tablespoon of tea syrup slowly over the cake, making sure it absorbs into the cake. Turn cake over, and pour the remaining syrup over the cake. Serve sliced, with strawberries and whipped cream.

Tea Glazed (lacquered?) Strawberries
1 pint of strawberries (do NOT remove the tops)
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp black tea, preferably Darjeeling or Earl Grey
While the cake is baking, make syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves into water. Add tea leaves, heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Strain out and discard tea leaves, return liquid to medium heat and heat until the syrup is just thick enough to coat a spoon.
Working as quickly as you can, use the top of each strawberry to dip the strawberry into the tea syrup. There should be a thin coat of syrup coating the strawberry. Place top-down on a plate to dry, the syrup should dry and thicken.

*My oven runs cool, which is why I advise to test early.

 

34 comments:
  1. i keep referring to inspirational quotes on difficult times. Recently, I have been reading and re-reading this one…“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
    – Doe Zantamata

  2. I’ve only just stumbled upon your journal of sorts today, but two hours have passed and I’m still reading. It’s so comforting to know that what I’ve been thinking recently is in fact felt by other people (though admittedly I’m at a different place in my life). From one tea enthusiast to another, I wish you luck with whatever direction you head in!

    – Natasha

  3. lena,

    This is so beautiful and honest, it took my breath away.

  4. I certainly never expected to find tears in my eyes reading about tea cakes but it was a nice surprise. Breathtaking is the correct word and I so appreciate you sharing your pain, soul-searching and hope. What a wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing it.

  5. What a seriously gorgeous post! As a 17 year old, this was really inspiring to me. I love your honesty. And of course, this cake looks stunning and I love the idea of tea-glazed berries!

  6. Emma,

    Your words are so heart-breaking, honest and sweet all at the same time and written so eloquently. That awkwardness you wrote about, just spoke volumes to me.

    Oh and lovely, lovely looking cake with those tea flavours. And such pretty eggs! I love the speckled brown one :)

  7. Heavy and beautiful. The line about the things you don’t talk about with your parents got me the most. I hate those spaces that grow between friends or family members and I long to break through them and yet it is SO HARD because there is usually so much pain in those spaces. We all want to be known and to feel close and yet the pain freaks us out. It freaks me out.

  8. You write with a beautiful voice! I wish you luck and success in all that you have dreamed of, my friend. Cakes make me smile. I hope this one made you smile too since it is so pretty.

  9. I’m so scared to finish my degree and actually figure out what to do with my life! I so loved reading this :) The cake looks delicious! So simple and elegant.

  10. I came here to check out your recipe, which I do like, by the way. But then, I read your post and instead I want to tell you this….

    A fews times in my life I was hurt so bad I cried everyday for a very long time, and during that time the only thought that got me through was to be patient and “there will be clear skies after every pouring rain.” ….. huge hugs to you during the rain in your life, Joyti, but it will get better, I promise you.

  11. What a heartfelt, honest and inspiring post. I enjoy reading your posts so much, as they are so expressive with real emotion. Plus, you make some beautiful food! I have never had olive oil in a dessert, but I feel I must now. How could I not?

  12. Deb,

    The honesty in your post drew me in. I kept reading as the brave soul opened and flowered for your lucky readers. I stayed to enjoy the Olive Oil Tea Cake with Tea Glazed Berries. An outstanding post!

  13. Juliana,

    Oh Joyti…always so nice reading your posts…and I sure wish you all the happiness and successes…
    Your olive oil orange tea cake looks delicious…great paired with a cup of tea…
    Have a nice week dear :D

  14. Lovely and eloquent post! Life can indeed be bittersweet and wonderful. This dessert looks amazing, and is beautiful too! : )

  15. hannah,

    a beautiful and moving post x

  16. Cailee,

    I’m sorry about this difficult time :( But I hope things go well!! Lovely recipe as well! So pretty and tasty!

  17. You are brave to pave your own path. I wish you all the luck in the world.

  18. Honestly don’t know what to say, it seems like you’ve gone through so much, and it must’ve taken alot of courage to put it up there for everyone to see. Thank you so much for sharing- it gives others, including me who’s going through quite a stressful time right now a peace of mind- that there are others around who seem to have a tough time but still persevering, always in hope for something better, soon, out there somewhere along the path. It gives me comfort and strength to read this from someone I knew so little about- just a food blogger named Joyti who posts beautiful photos of food and recipes. Thank you again and I wish you all the best in everything you choose to pursue!

  19. Joanne,

    Such an inspiring post. If you were here I’d be giving you the BIGGEST HUG. As it stands, I’ll just have to make this lovely tea cake and think of you…and that will have to suffice!

  20. Hi Joyti, of all of our losses, losing a loved one for whatever reason is such a wrenching, a shock, one that no amount of questions and answers and speculation can settle. maybe just time. those feelings of peace–hang on to them, remember them, your dreams too. sending all good thoughts your way. Nancy

  21. Sending you all the luck you need – and more freedom each and every day. I have just made an olive oil cake and love the tea aspect to yours. By the way, if you can get Bach Flower Remedies where you live try White Chestnut :)

  22. Kelly,

    This is such a heartfelt post, sending you lots of good thoughts no matter what the future brings. Lovely tea cake, it looks so elegant and delicious!

  23. Lyddiegal,

    Life can be so strange, so confusing, and so utterly overwhelming. I wish you the best of luck in finding your path and experiencing many joys along the way.

  24. Damn delicious!!!
    never had tea infused cake before, tempting to try!!!
    the photograph is really seducing me….

  25. Very heavy and deeply felt. You said yourself in the writing – let all that confusion, insecurity, loneliness and stress be the fuel. Thats for all of us to understand – so simple and takes you places.
    I love that marble board. I want to buy one too but yet to come across the extra large pastry block size I like.
    Also all the best wishes in the world my friend, some day if we meet we will have darjeeling tea and this cake – just my kind of catching up! :)
    Take care

  26. Congratulations Joyti! You have done what most haven’t! You have graduated and realized much more than most at your age. I say go for it girl. Nothing can stop you now!And if you ever get to Denver, I have very good ears!

  27. Best of luck as you choose the next path!! This tea cake looks superb. Love the sound of tea glazed strawberries :)

  28. Suzanne,

    Tea can’t cure
    everything, but it
    sure helps, doesn’t
    it?

    My heart is both
    heavy and light for
    you, at the same time.
    Life is such a roller-
    coaster–which means
    there will be UPs as
    well as downs–believe
    me, it’s true.

    Here’s to the wind on
    your face and the butterflies
    in your stomach, because
    even when the coaster is
    headed down, it’s still an
    amazing ride.

    xo Suzanne

  29. mjskit,

    First of all – congratulations!! I’m sorry there was so much worry and stress associated with graduating but glad to read that you realized the freedom you now have! I hope that wonderful feeling of freedom stays with you for a long time! I did have to giggle a little at the beginning because the one thing I inherited from my mother was the ability NOT to worry, just go with the flow. Of course my husband tells me that I go overboard at times and that “a little” worry or concern is good for you. :) Anyway, beautiful writing and a lovely cake! So simple and elegant. Lovely pictures as always, but I really like the one of the eggs.

  30. X.,

    I admired your brutal honesty in expressing the worries that I believed many would have experienced once before. Those problems of worrying too much, I couldn’t agree with you more than that, and it does drives me crazy to the point that fear pulled me away from doing any actual actions I promised myself to do, & I am still trying hard to win this mental battle everyday :( It’s a rare gem to find such personal views of yours in blogosphere I think, and I am glad for you that you managed to come through with this beautiful journal instead of letting worries overtake you :) Keep up the great work and wish you the best of luck in future endeavors!

  31. Dolly,

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR PHOTOS!

  32. Pingback: How to Worry Less? - Food, Pleasure, and Health

  33. There’s so much wisdom in this post, in your words. I wish I could stand there right by your side, Joyti, give a big hug, and wish you luck on your journey. Instead, I’m sitting here over 5000 miles away from where you are and trying to express how much I wish you to find your happy place in this crazy, unpredictable world we’re living in. xoxo

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