As of last Wednesday I am officially unemployed. It's a strange, slightly uncomfortable, position for me to be in. For the last ten years, I have either worked or gone to school, or for most of that time, awkwardly balanced a combination of the two. Yet, in expectation of our up coming adventure, the time has come for us to leave our jobs of five years, and in all honesty, it wasn't an easy task for me to do. I have always been one of those people who complained (a lot) about having to work: the time it takes away from my hobbies, the physical exhaustion, the 4:30 a.m. wake up call, and the one-in-one-hundred customers who were less than nice - it all gets to me, wearing me down day after day. So, when the time came to leave our jobs, Adam and I jumped with joy at the opportunity. But now, less than a week into freedom, I miss the routine. I miss my mornings spent sipping Americanos, gossiping with the bakers, and seeing the same beautiful faces of my favourite customers morning after morning (buying the same thing day after day). Never before have I had I the opportunity to work in a place where I felt so proud about the product. Where the ingredients used were as fair-trade, as local, and as top quality. Where the farmers who supplied us with grain, eggs, and produce were known on a first name basis. Where everyone was so deeply committed to put out nothing but the finest and most wholesome food they could each and every day. And where everyone just wanted to make a lasting and positive influence in the community. And for this, I salute them.
I will miss the quiet morning chats with my coworkers. I will miss the funny stories they shared about their kids, their boy troubles, their girl troubles, their life troubles. I will miss hearing their plans for the future. How they went out to a show the night before and only got two hours sleep before coming into work, and I will miss making them a cup of tea in the hopes that it will make them feel better and ease their hangover. I will miss seeing them grow, get married, have babies, and move on. I'll miss my friends, they are truly such amazing people. Five years is the longest I have ever worked in one spot, but a bit of me wishes I could work there forever. In celebration (and condolence) of leaving work, I made a healthy (okay, maybe just healthier) vegan cake inspired by the tastes of local produce, lazy summer evening, and unadulterated holiday leisure. This cake is moist and lightly sweetened, with a fine crumb. As there are no eggs in the cake it can be a bit delicate, so one should take extra caution when cutting it horizontally. I sandwiched the layers of orange cake between blackberry jam, but for a take on a vegan berry short cake, it would also be lovely to stack the two cakes between a layer of fresh coconut whipped cream as well as a generous serving on top.
Orange Poppy Seed Cake With Summer Berries
Recipe: (Makes two 8" cakes)
3 ½ Cups Sifted or Light Spelt Flour
1 Cup Coconut or Sucanat Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Sea Salt
3 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
2 Cups Organic Apple Juice
¾ Cup Light Oil1 tsp. Vanilla
Zest of 1 Orange
½ Cup Jam of Choice (I used Crofters Blackberry)
1 Cup Unsweetened Yogurt of Choice (coconut, almond, goat) drained for an hour or so
1 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 ½ Cups Fresh Berries for Garnish
1. Begin by mixing the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, combine the apple juice, oil, vanilla, and zest. Mix well.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.
4. Divide the batter amongst two 8 inch round greased and floured pans.
5. Bake in a 175 C (350 F) for 30-35 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
6. Let the cakes cook slightly before flipping out onto racks to cool completely.
7. Slice each cake in half horizontally to make four cakes. On one cake, spread about two Tbsp. Jam. Top with another layer of cake. Spread the second cake with more jam, repeat until all the layers are used, but leave the top of the cake plain.
8. Meanwhile, put the yogurt in a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl. This is done simply to remove the extra water and help make a yogurt cheese. The coconut yogurt I used was thick enough that this step wasn't necessary, but this will depend on your yogurt.
9. Combine the yogurt with the liquid sweetener and vanilla.
10. Just before serving, top cake with the yogurt and fresh berries of choice.