For the last year, I’ve been doing yoga pretty regularly thanks in part to how excellent it feels and also in part to discovering the most inspirational and community-creating teacher I’ve ever had, Shuja De’Peace. Really, if I can recommend anything, it’s finding a Shuja in your life. Each Friday I go to his hip-hop inspired class (with a touch of freestyle dancing) to “flow hard and love deep” and 10 times out of 10 leave feeling like I just sweated out about 5 pounds of anxiety. We roar like lions, sing Rihanna, and clap when it’s done…that’s how amazing this class is.
This past Friday as we begin, Shuja tells us that he recently learned about the human body’s reaction to the changing of the season and especially the transition from summer to fall. It is a time where it is so important for us to actualize desires. It’s like a “if you want it, then you should have it” sort of time in life. If the body wants exercise, grant it that. If any sort of bodily function needs to happen, do it. Sex? Hell yeah! In a way it mimics how animals prepare for hibernation, to fulfill needs and wants, when they are wanted to prepare for the transition into a time and a season that’s a bit tougher, physically and emotionally.
Per usual, this resonated hard. I’ve had a tough couple of months, to be honest. Being a newly-ish single person requires remembering that person that you were before, that you admired and loved so much, before your life became intertwined in so many ways with another person’s. You emerge into this new space feeling naked and vulnerable, like each day progresses with a missing…something. You sort of grabble at the things that come up in each day and take on each new opportunity because that feels like the only way to make it through. So then of course it would be logical that now especially, now that I’m finally feeling “me” again at this time of transition, I should indulge the desires, the things my body craves.
And last week my soul needed cake.
One of my many social activities last week was a visit to Book Larder, a cookbook bookstore, to listen to a discussion with Julia Turshen, author of the new Now and Again, and local Seattle food legend, Molly Wizenberg. We also had the wonderful pleasure to meet with Julia during the book signing. Her messages of using food to facilitate change for the good and just generally giving a fuck about what you eat fit in with all of this too, a message about using something that you need to also feed the soul when it needs feeding. And from the good ole world of Instagram, I know already that her applesauce cake has been a mega hit. I just couldn’t resist.
This cake is everything for me at this point in life when ALL of my baking things live in Virginia and I, lonely and KitchenAid-deprived, live in Seattle. But guess what! This cake doesn’t need a mixer! You just need a bowl, and some jacked yoga arms to whip of the frosting. Good thing I’m well equipped on both fronts. The resulting cake, lightly sweetened and heavily spiced, is what I would describe at the perfect “snacking cake” It’s sturdy, though not stodgy, and only needs a mini little layer of the frosting to amp it up with a bit of tang. Will cake fix everything right now? No, probably not, but it sure felt damn good to feed that craving, to listen to what I want, and do that.
For the Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
1 Tbs ground ginger
1½ tsp diamond crystal kosher salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1½ cups unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup coconut oil
For the Frosting
6 oz room temperature cream cheese
2 Tbs. sour cream
¼ cup honey
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake tin with a round of parchment paper and spray with cooking spray or rub the bottom and sides with some coconut oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Add in the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, applesauce, and coconut oil and whisk again until the mixture is just combined. Use a rubber spatula to transfer to the baking tin.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until just firm, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, use a whisk or a mixer to combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt until light and whippy.
When the cake is cool, invert onto another cooling rack, remove the parchment, and flip again onto a platter so it’s right side up. Frost the top of the cake with as little or as much of the frosting as you desire.