It's come to that time of the year again - exam time! And how time has flown by. It has been about three months since I last posted, but not because I haven't had anything to post about.
Somehow in August and September all the bad things seemed to happen at once, one after the other, in quick succession, with a fresh problem occurring just when one resolved. I'm sure that most regular people would be able to re-gather themselves quickly and move on. Unfortunately as I've come to realise over the years, I am rather more sensitive than the usual person, so whatever the situation is, good or bad, I seem to feel it more and take more time to recover back to a state of normalcy.
Now I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that there is not really such a thing as "normal" life, one where everything runs smoothly, everything's in order, and life events can be planned out carefully. But that is ok with me! In spite of the extremes, I don't think I would want life any other way. Accepting that normal can mean erratic bursts of chaos has helped me to be more happy with situations and people (including myself) even though there may be limitations and imperfections. And it pushes me to take more action in putting the balance, fun, and peace back into my life, rather than just waiting for things to change.
Now onto some more light-hearted talk after all that reflection! As I mentioned, I have had a number of occasions in these past months which provided some good baking opportunities. One such occasion was my mother-in-law's birthday last month, and birthdays naturally means there must be birthday cake! However, with summer looming and concerns about losing that sneaky winter weight, I wanted to make a simple and light cake that would look impressive but that wouldn't take too much fuss. Luckily, as I was idly flipping through food magazines, I came across a recipe for chocolate zebra biscuits which triggered a distant memory of a zebra cake recipe I had read about ages ago. With some research and a few tweaks, I had the makings of a perfectly pretty birthday cake.
First, I decided to replace the chocolate with a pink batter, as I thought this would love more feminine and festive. Then, as a healthier (and easier) alternative to a full buttercream icing, I decided to top the cake with some dollops of light cream cheese and strawberries.
I was quite pleased with how easy it was to make. Basically you just have to put alternating spoonfuls of batter on top of each other. Normally when a recipe is described as being simple, I somehow find a way to get confused, and I really did not believe that such a simple method could create such perfect layers (at least not in my hands).
|My first tentative spoonfuls|
But, to my joy and relief, I did achieve an orderly pink and white striped cake! The only problem I had was that my circles started to drift to one side as I poured the batter on!
|My swirls drifting towards the left...|
So what I did was to slowly drift my circles back in the other direction as I poured them on, which seemed to do the trick (although it did mean my cake no longer had a bullseye look, but more of a random swirls look).
|Slightly off centre swirls...|
Although the cake was simple, it was enjoyed by the whole family, particularly my mother-in-law! Whilst it tasted like a simple butter cake, the swirls of pink seemed to give it a special lift (I'm sure pink is a flavour!). I was also surprised at how nicely the little dollops of cream cheese went with the cake, adding a rich creaminess to the cake. And the batter uses oil instead of butter, again reducing the saturated fat and also making the batter super simple to prepare and work with.
So overall, it really has actually been a good few months - these "life lesson" times always seem to turn out that way, even though it feels like it's all too much at the time. Now I'm looking forward to finishing exams (only one more to go - yay!) and hopefully to sharing more of what I have been up to soon!
Pink Zebra Cake
Adapted from Lorraine Pascale's Crounhing Tiger, Hidden Zebra cake, recipe from My Baba