All around us sit buckets and mops. It’s raining so hard the roof is leaking again. Google the Dog sulks near the wood stove, soaking wet. She’s having a bad hair day.
Our house seems to exist in its own (rain) cloud. My daughter is watching an animated movie while my husband is glued to a soccer match. I contemplate whether to make a cake. Why a cake? Because I’m fed up with dealing with laundry on such a soaking wet day.
It’s a very ordinary Saturday afternoon in a very ordinary November in an old farmhouse atop a mountain in Umbria. It’s peaceful and boring at the same time. And it’s full of love and comfort. For me, all that matters is around me.
That’s when I decide to go online. There I read about people who want to put up crosses or burn crosses. I see guns in the hands of children. I see guns pointed at children. I see people living in fear. Most unbearable is the lack of compassion for those who don’t even have a roof on their heads, let alone a family, a slice of cake or just a little comfort.
That makes me deeply sad. So I turn off the computer and head for the kitchen. Call it tuning out, but the end result is tasty.
Orange and Olive Oil cake
- 140 grams (1 cup) wholegrain white flour.
- 100 gr (1/2 cup) semolina flour.
- 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
- 120 gr (2/3 cup) light brown organic sugar.
- 2 eggs.
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil.
- 1/2 cup sweet dessert wine (Vinsanto will do the trick).
- 1/3 cup milk.
- Zest of 1 orange.
- 1 teaspoon of aniseed, fennel seeds and ground cinnamon.
First, mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Place them in a generously buttered 1.2 liter (5-cup) terrine or loaf mold. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C (350F) until golden and dry inside, about 35-45 minutes.
This cake was inspired by a recipe my friend Nancy Harmon Jenkins published in her recent cookbook “Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil”  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
While eating the cake, ignore the rain and treasure your loved ones.