It's been a rough week. I had been complaining about all the usual things - end of semester stress, workshop fatigue, money issues - but between the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, and the explosion in West Texas, things have been placed firmly in perspective. It might seem odd to go from human pain and suffering to chocolate cake, but for me, baking is a coping mechanism and a comfort. It's no wonder I was driven to the kitchen.
This cake happened on Wednesday night. I finished up a shift at the wine store at 6:30, rode my scooter home, walked the dogs, and ate some leftovers for dinner. Nathan was working late and I had a huge pile of student poems to grade, but I couldn't bring myself to sit down in front of my computer. I felt unsettled, sad, and disappointed in the world. The only solution was to bake.
Our cupboards are pretty bare, but I knew I had flour, a bag of sugar, some cocoa powder, and plenty of eggs, thanks to the ladies. Cookies seemed like too much work, and cakes are for celebrations. I finally decided to make a chocolate loaf - simple, sweet, and unassuming. A perfect mid-week treat.
I ended up following a Martha Stewart recipe almost exactly, with two important alterations. First: I made the loaf dairy free by substituting 3/4 cup of buttermilk with 3/4 cup of almond milk, mixed with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. (DIY vegan buttermilk!) I did use eggs, which is new and different for me, as I was a flax meal devotee before getting our own chickens. And finally, instead of sprinkling the loaf with chocolate chips, I gave it a generous dusting of unsweetened coconut flakes prior to baking it. This turned out to be an excellent choice.
I cleaned the kitchen while the loaf baked, and by the time it was done I felt better - more centered, more peaceful, and more accepting of the world as a balance of horror and beauty. Such is the power of the kitchen.