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Cakes and Loaves, Sweet, Travel

Of Barcelona, lost sunglasses, and my very first Ricotta Cake

Long time no write, so many news, so little time. I’m aware of the risk of ending up writing a novel instead than just a post, so let’s go, first things first: my holiday in Barcelona.

Is fabulous the right word to describe it? What’s certain, is that I am very close to describing it as the best holiday of my life, if it weren’t for a small inconvenient which actually ripped my heart into small pieces right at the start: the loss of my beautiful, beloved vintage sunglasses, which my mother used to wear when she was my age, and which are, to date, the only sunglasses I have ever tried on that actually look good on my face. Never mind, was her reaction, it’s nothing but a piece of plastic. Never mind, we’ll find you another pair and you’ll remember them as the ones we got together was my boyfriend’s. Be as it may, and although I know well that it’s not good to get too attached to objects, the feeling of having lost one of my favorite things is heartbreaking – especially for one, like me, who usually pays maniacal attention to all her belongings. It’s just like when I lost my favourite jacket on a train, back in 2006 – and yep, that’s right, I never lose anything, except what’s important to me: I just hope this excruciating pattern of failing to keep an eye on what I love will never reach out to people.

On a more pleasant note, Barcelona is fantastic. It was exactly what I needed to remind myself that things such as spending whole days enjoying the sun and the warm weather, and walking until I’m exhausted and my legs ache, and discovering new places and sights and foods, do actually exist. I had a much-needed reminder of what spring (or even summer) is, and marvelled at every single thing I saw.

We will become silhouettes.

Take the Sagrada Familia: as short as my life might have been, and as inexistent my faith in divinities, I am still convinced that it is the most amazing sight I ever had in my life. If you think that its construction started in the 1920s, and they are still following the original designs to complete it, you’d expect it to look old, almost ancient; it is actually a feast for the eye, a marvel of color and light, which might as well have been erected yesterday, overnight, bright and spacious as it looks.

And then there were Gaudì’s colorful sculptures in Park Guell, the pleasant feeling of walking at the seaside, the heaps of fresh fish and delicious pastries that I stuffed myself on without regrets  (pasteleria Santa Clara is the name: if you ever visit, you have to go there for breakfast, period). I loved the city, loved the atmosphere, loved the five days I spent without a problem or a care…

Resist temptation.

…and then I landed back in Luton, and it was raining again. Too cold for my leather jacket and summer Converse shoes, so cold that when I went out for dinner I was already wearing my coat again, and my winter scarf. What the hell, it’s May. London, you shouldn’t be allowed to do this.

Today there’s a wonderful sun outside, which makes me think I’ll lose the rest of the morning to my weekend ritual of going for a run along the picturesque, stimulating (sarcasm here, in case you’re wondering) Hendon Way. I should be doing something more enjoyable, like planning a much more satisfying outdoor lunch to forget the bitter disappointment I felt upon discovering that all tickets for Amanda Palmer‘s June gig are already sold out after going on sale yesterday – but hey,I said I’d run every weekend, and I already missed two: despite myself, I’m bound to catch up. Not before having left you a little something to try at home, of course: and don’t worry, I’m certainly not talking about the latest DIY exercising technique. I’d probably be better off if I had one myself, rather than just running with all my fingers crossed in the hope of not spraining my ankle for good!

Breakfast Ricotta Cake

(makes 8 – 10 slices)

Treat this well, as it’s the first cake I have ever baked. I was 15, and had never ever cooked before, apart from some attempts at biscuits that resulted in rock-hard, shapeless blocks no one dared to eat. I still have no idea why my mum came up with this recipe and proposed me to try it: she probably just fancied a cake, or was desperate for me to find something to do in one of the many dull afternoons that marked my teenage years back home.

Be that as it may, I baked this cake so many times, afterwards, that I wouldn’t hesitate in defining it one of the foods I grew up to – and one of the sweetest memories I have of sharing things with my mother, together with the late night tv serial marathons on Fox Crime, and the expectant wait for her to finish the books I already read, loved and recommended. (We still do that, sometimes. I just sent her a copy of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth for her birthday, which she is definitely not expecting, and I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t just adore it.).

Making this cake again after many years gave me the sort of feeling that is so well described in Proust’s famous madeleines scene. Memories brought back, a new yet familiar taste, the sensation of being 15 again, and then 16, and 17, but certainly not almost 25…So treat it well, as I said: if you share it with your loved ones, it’ll most certainly brighten up your breakfasts.

Ingredients

  • 250g sugar;
  • 350g ricotta cheese;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 300g flour, sifted;
  • 1 sachet baking powder;
  • lemon zest.

Recipe

  • Mix the sugar and ricotta cheese in a bowl;
  • Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest, and mix well;
  • Pour the batter in a greased cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180°;
  • Bake for about one hour, then remove from the oven and leave aside to cool down.

See? One of the easiest recipes I have ever tried. It’ll take you no more than 15 minutes to prepare the batter, and after that you’ll only have to sit back, relax, and wait for the oven to do its job. Simple, savoury and stress-free: doesn’t it sound like the perfect treat?

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  1. Pingback: Simple Chocolate Cake | Whatever Gets You Through The Day - April 17, 2015

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