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the very depths

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So here’s the plan: the charming fiancé and I are getting hitched this coming August (!). Thus, we are planning a wedding. We are trying to do so whilst maintaining our principles concerning: simple living, ethical consumption, gender equity/feminism and general reasonableness…and ensuring everyone’s inclusion and happiness…and anticipating bumps in the road prior to tripping over them and falling flat on our faces…and wanting a celebration reflective of us but pushing hard against the notion that it simply must convey the very! depths! of our souls and love for one another. SO EASY, right?

No. No, it is not easy.

Along with my wonderful, involved, calm fiancé and the collection of other sane people I’ve gathered around me, A Practical Wedding is my salvation. Also the fact that we’re getting married this summer; no use spreading the aforementioned stress over more than a few months, wise folks have advised. Because no, it’s not really in my nature to calm down even with all the time in the world. I agree with APW pretty universally, and I don’t intend to turn this into a wedding blog, so read that if you wonder, and I’ll say no more (for now).

Except in regard to how this relates to food, which of course it does, because if you ask me, everything does, and which is to say: Monday night, I was in great need of comfort. I wanted a home-baked treat to calm me, yes, and to serve as a reward for energy exerted, but I also wanted to sift flours, melt butter, dirty measuring cups, fill my home with a sweet aroma and feel like I’d accomplished something worthwhile, with tangible, edible results in less than two hours’ time. I paged through cookbooks and gauged my cravings and inventoried my pantry. No walnuts; that was one recipe I’d pondered now out of the running. A limited amount of baking powder available. Spring produce still sorely lacking here in the Midwest.

After much indecision (my unfortunate fallback mode), I returned to this favorite. Though not an old favorite, per se, it has the dependability of something trusty and old and tried-and-true…not to mention the topmost crust of any baker’s dreams.

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Does it convey the very depths of my current emotive state? Well, no. But does anything convey the very depths of anything else? Yeah, probably not. So here’s to yet another delightfully simple cake and the whole glorious concept of snacking and blessedly calm fiancés and being in love and breaking the wedding-planning mold. Things do not have to convey the depths of one’s soul to be meaningful and beautiful and good. I shall keep this firmly at the forefront of my mind, until and straight on through early August.

(Also, speaking of love, did we all read this, I hope? If you have not, I encourage you to do so. I just read it again, and like the first and second and third times I read it, I feel better about the world.)

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Snacking Cake

Adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite

The original recipe calls for a full cup of brown sugar and 2/3 cup of butter. I have reduced those quantities here, and, especially as a snack, I prefer it this way. But if you want something just slightly more decadent (while still surely snack-able), feel free to bump those back up. For flour, I have used the original all-purpose and whole wheat blend as well as white whole wheat flour for the full amount; both work out nicely, with a similar texture and crumb.

That crisp top crust is simply perfect on the first day. Slices freeze well, toast wonderfully and are delicious topped with jam.

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour + 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (OR 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8×4 or 9×5 -inch loaf tin, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt or buttermilk, vanilla and cinnamon. One at a time, add the eggs, and whisk until completely incorporated.

In another, smaller bowl, combine the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet, whisking until no longer lumpy.

With a spatula, fold the melted butter into the batter in 3 additions.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the tin, and then turn it onto a wire rack to continue cooling.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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