Dear DfB readers,
It has been so long! I've missed wishing you a Happy 2015, and an entire month has already flown by of this new year, faster than we can even inhale a piece of cake. It's February already. Goodness gracious.
You guys, tenure track is no joke. It's always so funny to hear that undergrads think that our jobs just involve showing up to lecture and teaching them. Maybe holding some office hours, too. Bwahahaha. Allow me to set the record straight right now. Teaching is about, like, 20% of our jobs. The other 80% is filled with research, grant-writing (and grant-crying when you get rejected), service to run the department, the university, other teaching duties like proposing and evaluating new classes, majors, minors, degree programs. Oh, did I mention the research? That's what really matters. Publish or perish, folks. It's real.
So yeah, sorry, blog. Any energies to write and think have largely been sucked into academic writing. Hours and days are now measured by the yardstick of, "is this time that I would make a cake better spent writing a few pages of that overdue paper?" The answer is... nearly invariably, yes.
But, let's not talk about all that for today. Let's talk about fun, yummy news today! Let's take a brief reprieve from the crush of tenure track and academia, and talk about beautiful, delicious, happy moments of sugar and fruit. Of friends and tea. For you all today, I have some extraordinarily exciting news: a cookbook shot by yours truly and written by Annelies Zijderveld all about cooking with tea is coming to a bookstore near you!!! STEEPED: Recipes infused with tea is coming in April!!!
^ There it is! The physical, advanced copy of STEEPED. In all of its beautiful, printed glory. During the summer, between moving cities, and ending grad school, and starting professor-hood, Annelies and I hunkered down in my old studio space for one final hurrah there. Over the course of three weeks, Annelies cooked up a storm downstairs in my kitchen with her wondrously creative recipes using tea in all different ways, and I snapped away upstairs, styling food, dipping my fingers in everything to try, wading through a room full of props (more linens and plates and forks than Downton Abbey likely has), racing sun and light ... to produce the photos for her book. I'm so thankful to Annelies for her amazingly collaborative spirit, entrusting me with the huge job of translating her mind's eye vision in her words to the visual world, making her recipes come alive on the page. I hope I did her food justice. And, if I may sound ever so proud, the final book is quite gorgeous. ^^
When our advance copies of the book arrived in the mail, Annelies and I got together for an afternoon to celebrate (and to make some promo photos). Upon hearing that I'd basically been shut up in my ivory tower headspace for the past several months, Annelies insisted that I take the afternoon and make a cake. I've been so obsessed with matcha lately--ever since shooting the book, and also since going to this cafe in Portland, which specializes in matcha tea lattes--and have been fantasizing about making a matcha mochi cake for the upcoming Chinese New Years'. At the same time, my meyer lemon tree has been bursting with fruit, and stares at me forlornly through the window every day because I haven't had time to go harvest it. So, I at last picked off some of the lemons for some matcha cake.
The result: a matcha green tea and meyer lemon mochi cake, which I like thinking of as a preview of the spring!, embodied in cake form. The luminous candied meyer lemons--just ever-so-slightly carmelized on the edges from baking--meld into this earthy, chewy, layer of grassy matcha mochi cake. It's a cake with such a satisfying, toothsome texture. There's nothing crumbly or fluffy here. Instead, it's dense mochi that seems almost paradoxically light-hearted from the brightness of the matcha and meyer lemon flavors.
I know things have been too quiet on this blog lately, but at least, thanks to Annelies, I have this wonderful news about the book to share, and a cake recipe for you, just in time to wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year! See? I didn't miss New Year's after all.
More sneak previews from the book coming soon, I promise.
Read on for recipe...
Matcha & Meyer Lemon Mochi Cake
makes one 10-inch cake
4-5 Meyer lemons, in 1/8-inch slices
2 cups (460 g) water, plus more for blanching
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 1/2 cups (345 g) 2% milk
2 tspn matcha green tea powder
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) vegetable oil
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 tspn baking powder
1 lb. sweet rice flour (e.g., Mochiko)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously oil the bottom and sides of a 10-inch quiche pan (or cake pan) with a removable bottom. Set aside.
2. Place the Meyer lemon slices in a medium saucepan. Cover the lemon slices in water. Blanch by bringing the water and lemons to a rolling boil, then drain the water. Put the 2 cups (460 g) of water in the saucepan with the lemons. Add the 1 cup (200 g) of sugar. Return the pan to heat. Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature to simmer. Simmer the lemon slices for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the rinds are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In another saucepan, heat the milk to just a bare simmer. Then, remove from heat. Using a whisk or matcha chasen (matcha tea whisk), whisk the matcha green tea powder into the milk. Make sure there are no more clumps remaining.
3. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil, and sugar. Gradually whisk in the matcha milk.
4. In another bowl, mix to combine the baking powder and rice flour.
5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Arrange the candied lemon slices on top in one layer. It's okay if some of the lemon slices overlap. Reserve the lemon syrup.
7. Bake the cake for 50 minutes to one hour, until the edges of the cake are golden brown, the edges of the lemons begin to turn golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly.
8. While the cake is baking, return the lemon syrup to medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Simmer and reduce the liquid, until only about 3/4 to 1 cup of liquid is left. Remove from heat.
9. When the cake is done, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the cake with a small amount of the reduced lemon syrup--just enough to glaze the lemon slices. Let the cake cool completely before removing the cake from the pan.