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January 20, 2014

Confessions (+ a Gingery Honey Cake)

in baking,sweets

I’ll begin this by mentioning that last night was a rather rough night: 3 wake-ups by a ravenous wee girlie (growth spurt!) so please forgive any incoherencies. It’s just that I don’t want to let too much time go by without sharing this recipe for a delightful ginger-honey cake, my version of a molasses-less gingerbread.

A few confessions to you, dear blog, on this holiday Monday where the sun is drifting in and our and the dryer is loudly pounding along downstairs. One: I have been eating far too many sweet things these past months, generally accompanied by multiple cups of coffee; and two: I’ve lately been experiencing not a few what my husband aptly describes as ‘low down in the trough’ moments. Perhaps these are related? I would not be surprised. Sugar has never been an addiction of mine but holy goodness it has become one. I am not proud of this but it’s true. My sister in law Emily emailed recently and mentioned she was doing a cleanse and thus was taking a break from coffee and this idea sounded so, so good to me I can’t even tell you. I need to do this myself: green tea only, no sweet treats, no snacks, just good vegetables and whole grains and the stuff I do still eat regularly but just more of that and less of the other. And yet … now is not quite the time. I still need a bit of a treat in these sleep-deprived days. I will get there. I hope.

The truth is that when you’re deeply tired, so tired that you put salt in your coffee instead of sugar (yes) and your morning dawns grey and with the memory of the three wake-ups you endured the night before still lingering you may find that you toss aside the idea of that long-anticipated run in favor of a strong cup of coffee and a piece of cake (or a batch of biscuits). A third confession: you can hardly bring yourself to care. I am not proud of this phenomenon but so it goes. This is an incredibly unique time in my life: not only am I a new mother but I have left comfort and familiarity (not to mention language fluency) behind to live on a new continent. Were I in California I’d be able to slip out for a run even in the dark, this being absolutely impossible here, or catch a weekend yoga class, or even get decent take-out on nights when I feel too wiped to cook. In lieu of those lovely opportunities I have been baking in copious amounts either whilst the girl sleeps or with her in tow. It makes utterly no sense and still —

Christmas felt a bit wan this year, mostly because I’d come down with my traditional holiday cold and wasn’t feeling particularly jolly overall. The few decorations I’d ordered from amazon did not arrive until the new year and while we hung up some lights I was yearning for festive. So I baked: three kinds of cookies, a maple-laced butter cake with caramelized pears, a sort of gingerbread sans molasses (I used honey instead) that turned out to be the dark horse of my sweets repertoire for that week. The pear cake was deliciously simple and buttery and good but the gingery honey cake had us making up excuses to drift into the kitchen just to cut one …. more … slice and brew another pot of coffee.

This is not a true gingerbread and so I will not call it such but I do so love the idea of a gingery honey cake for these mid-winter days that might push us all a bit down into the trough no matter where we happen to live. This cake more than fits that particular bill. It’s a cake that’s wonderfully full of honey but is not overly sweet; I draped a lemony glaze over top to give a bit of additional oomph. I think crystallized ginger, called for in the original recipe, might be lovely, too, though I was very happy with my version. Not gingerbread, no, but good sturdy cake in its own right that was perfect for the holidays as well as this first month of the year.

I confess that if I had this cake sitting on my counter right now I might eat roughly one-half of it in one go. Maybe you will, too.

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{ 6 comments }

Brittany January 21, 2014 at 7:06 am

How Could it be called a gingery honey cake if There its no honey in this recipe?

Janae Monir January 20, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Sorry to hear about your sleep troubles. I have forgotten what that was like, and yet I will have a new little one in about 8 weeks and I’m slightly, um, what’s the word? Oh, terrified. But, it is just a phase in the long run; I think it helps to remember that. I know that probably doesnt help when you’re salting your coffee though! And also, you are so far from home with a baby; I know what that’s like, too. And I can tell you it gets better. Hang in there! And your cake looks lovely :)

Pam January 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

I am thinking of you, Nicole. Wish I could drop by for tea and cake with you. . .and long conversation! Holding your sweet baby would be the “frosting on the cake” so to speak. Blessings!

Rosanne January 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

Molasses is known as black treacle in Europe. You might also find it under that name in Morocco.

Lisa January 20, 2014 at 8:51 am

This looks really, really delicious. I baked up two loaves of a cream cheese pound cake last night and do so intend to freeze one for after-baby, but if by any tiny chance it doesn’t make it to the freezer (ahem), then perhaps I should bake this up and throw it in there instead? Looks so, so good.

I hope you can offer yourself some grace and love and tenderness in these hard months. The power of sleep deprivation is real, and every kid is so different – some throw us a bone sometime in their first year, and begin sleeping longer stretches, and others don’t. Also you’re lonely and isolated and away from so much comfort and support. And do you think there’s any chance this is more than just the sum total of all that transition and stress – could you be struggling too with PPD?

RE the sleep thing … what helped me most was cosleeping, learning how to nurse lying down, and letting go of any ideas I had of when I might start sleeping in longer stretches. But for other people it’s some kind of sleep training, and there are so many routes you can go with that.

Sending lots of restful thoughts!!

lunch at 11:30 January 20, 2014 at 7:26 am

now is *not*quite the time! also: coffee (mmmmm). hang in there, mama! sending lots of love from baltimore (where you can’t run in the dark either. or, you know, during the day. in some neighborhoods. which may or may not include ours. unless you are a really really fast runner, in which case you should probably be fine.)