"n. the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach—lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, huddled in the company of other misfits, unable to recognize the ambient roar of your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home."
I have a plane to catch tomorrow to New Zealand. My other home in the world. I am supposed to be packing but my back pack is empty save for a few pairs of socks, a pair of scraggy blue jeans and a morbidly obese cat who has decided to nap in there for the time being. The will to organise is eluding me - I go into my closet, pick out a few pieces, sigh heavily, throw them on the bed and trundle off to find a new activity to occupy myself for an hour before repeating this process again and again and again. Seriously I have done this four times already. I am making no headway.
Why am I dragging this out? Why the procrastination? To an outsider it would seem that I am annoyed and don't really want to go. Nothing is further from the truth. I cannot wait to get back. It is the coming back that will annoy me. It is returning to Australia that I don't want. I haven't even left yet and I am already worried about coming home - wtf is that? Plans keep half formulating about how to stay. Trust me if I could line up a job I wouldn't board the plane home.
I'm a spoilt child. But have you ever felt that before? That deep connection with a place that makes you say - this is home? Or living in a place you feel no connection to at all - that persistent nausea of being out of place. Monachopsis may be a made up word but it certainly sounds right.
Part of my procrastination at packing today involved turns around the garden picking the last of the spring flowers (before they wither and die like my soul under an Australian summer) and this rhubarb cake. We used to grow rhubarb in one of my student flats in New Zealand. We'd make crumbles, friands and cakes out of it. Cakes like this one. Comfort baking. The rhubarby syrup will run through the cake making it a little denser and wet than normal. This is fine just go with it. Add a dollop of cream when serving it too. A couple of things to note;
* Flip the cake out of the tin ten minutes after removing it from the oven. If you let it cool in the tin the rhubarb top will most likely stick to the cake pan.
**The amount of rhubarb you need is dependent on what kind of pattern you create with it. My striped design took 5 stalks - You can shape it or just scatter it or do what ever the fuck you want with the rhubarb on top - its still going to taste good.
Rhubarb Upside-Down Yogurt Cake
For the rhubarb topping;
- 4-5 stalks (1lb/450g approx) fresh rhubarb, ends trimmed
- 4 tbsp honey
- ⅓ Cup water
- juice of ½ an orange
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
For the cake;
- 1 cup/125g Plain-all purpose flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 100g unsalted butter
- ½ cup/100g granulated sugar
- 2 free range eggs
- 1 cup greek-full fat yogurt (unsweetened)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- To make the rhubarb topping: Cut the rhubarb into desired lengths. In a medium saucepan combine the rhubarb, honey, water, orange juice and vanilla seeds together and set over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer stirring occasionally. Cook the rhubarb until it is tender but still intact (roughly 5-8 minutes). Remove the rhubarb from the syrup and set aside. Continue simmering the syrup until it has reduced a little more (not too thick). Set aside.
- To make the cake: Heat oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 20 cm spring form cake pan. Cut a piece of baking paper to line the base of the cake pan. Arrange the rhubarb in a desired pattern (or scatter pieces along the base). You can add a very little amount of the syrup to the rhubarb now but if you add too much your cake will not cook properly.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the plain flour, spelt flour, baking powder and bicarb soda. Set aside. In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the yogurt and lemon juice and mix well (it may look curdled - this is fine do not panic - it is just the lemon juice reacting with yogurt and butter mix). Fold in the flour mixture, ensuring there are no lumps of flour as you go.
- Pour the cake batter over the rhubarb. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 mins or until cake is golden and springs bake when lightly touched. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the tin before inverting onto a serving platter. Release the cake tin, remove the parchment paper and adjust any rhubarb pieces that may have gotten stuck to the paper. Pour some more of the reserved syrup over the rhubarb. Cut into thick slices and serve warm with a dollop of thick cream and any remaining syrup.