“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
I have been absent the last couple of weeks from this space. From everywhere really. I go to sit and write just about every day but nothing happens. I freeze. My mind is raging but I cant find the words to say what I need to. Everything I seem to say comes out jumbled and mangled, or it trails off, not one of my thoughts seem quite whole or complete these days. Which makes for atrocious writing. The truth is I am just very tired. Not just my body, which is aching as if I have endured a three day mountainous hike. But also my mood. My psyche. Everything that is me is all just so very very exhausted. The type of fatigue that eats its way down, right into your very marrow. I have come to recognise these bouts of lassitude as a precursor to much darker spells of savage melancholia, the kind usually spent crying in bed and flirting about with my more destructive personality traits for weeks on end. The kind of wretchedness that myself and everyone else wants to avoid. Balancing on a tightrope refusing to look down as it were (for lack of a better metaphor). I think I am doing ok now. I sleep a lot where I can, avoid the news and anything that requires opinion, I blast music and tv when I am on my own, a delicious kind of white noise to keep me steady. And I walk and bake whenever I can muster the energy (and eat it when I can't). Simplistic withdrawn being. Existing without expectation until a sense of normality returns and I can follow a thought through to completion. I realise that this kind of behaviour is inherently selfish and that withdrawing from the world is not sound advice but sometimes you gotta be selfish and do what works for you.
Tangy plums set in a soft pistachio cake batter and drizzled with a yogurt icing, tinged pretty pink with plum juice. This is a cake I baked a few times during this period of self indulgent withdrawal. Easy, familiar and adaptable. A comforting early autumnal cake using stone fruit from summer just passed. Lightly sweet with a warm and slightly salty nutty crumb. The cake is not dense but it is not airy either, a perfect in between state. The original cake is an almond and fruit cake from my grandmothers handwritten recipe archives - I have substituted half the almond meal with pistachio meal (which is pistachio kernels blitzed in a coffee grinder or food processor until fine and flour like) and added in some yogurt for extra moisture.
Plum & Pistachio Cake
- 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup /150g caster sugar
- 3 Free range eggs, at room temperature
- 3 Tbsp Greek yogurt, unsweetened
- 1 Cup Almond meal
- 1 Cup Pistachio meal
- 1/2 Cup Plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 7-12 Plums, halved and pitted (depending on how big yours are)
- Pistachio kernels, crushed to decorate
For the yogurt icing
- 2 Tbsp natural yogurt
- 3/4 Cup Icing sugar
- Optional: Roasted plum syrup - I always have a lot of roasted plums this time of year so I added the syrup for extra plummy flavour and to make it a pretty pink colour - you can omit this though :)
- Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F. Grease a 20 cm springform pan with butter and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt.
- Mix in the almond and pistachio meals. Fold through the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Place the plum halves on top of the cake batter. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Allow cake to set in pan for further 10 minutes then transfer cake to wire rack, unclip cake ring and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl mix together the icing ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over cool cake and allow to set. Scatter with remianing crushed pistachio kernels.