Cranberries are, for me, one of the best things about late fall and they show up right in time, just as all of the other colors disappear. The ginkgo trees, always one of the last November holdouts, simultaneously ejected their green/yellow leaves last week and ever since, pretty much everything outside is looking rather… greige, but not like the charming shade of the boots I want. And then, out of nowhere, perfect red berries appear and things look up.
When my husband had a bit of, uh, bonus awesome free time on his hands this summer, he got into the curious habit of running while not being chased*, which led to him taking part in his first 5K a few weeks ago. To celebrate, we had people over for a little New York brunch (that is, bagels and lox, no, not homemade, not when they’re this good) back at our apartment, and, still trying to dig out from under our overzealous apple-picking, I made apple cinnamon buns. I didn’t think they were a big deal; I mean, they were good, just your standard cinnamon bun with two apples, diced small, scattered over the filling but it turns out, you cannot causally mention homemade apple cinnamon buns on the internet without causing a RECIPE PLEASE ruckus. I should know this.
In my defense, I resisted this crumble for possibly even a single hour before going to the kitchen to assemble the ingredients. A whole hour, an hour in which we could have had a buttery, spiced gingersnap and brown sugar crumbled lid atop a glurp-ing puddle of soft, sweet pears and slumped, tart cranberries, bubbling through cracks in the rubbled surface. An hour in which I instead thought there were better things to do, like pretending to clean the kitchen while staring into space and imagining how good the crumble could be. They give out medals for this kind of valor, right?
Is it too soon in our relationship to say that I miss hanging out with you guys more? I hope not. The fact is that these days I am so deep in the throes of
oh my god what was I thinking a certain cookbook I’m supposed to be halfway (ha! hoo! hee! I wonder if Knopf will find this so hilarious) finished with that it’s taking time away from hanging out here. Which is a shame, as it is my favorite place outside a certain striped carpet covered with The Mop Who Came to Live With Us and his toys and a bar I haven’t found yet that makes perfect Manhattans.
Almond cake, schmalmond cake… Can we just talk about this syrup? I got briefly and over-enthusiastically into making fruit syrups this summer when this September arrival forced me into a mocktail kinda lifestyle. I had quickly dismissed all of those new grown-up sodas everywhere; they were either too sweet or their so-called “natural” nature was a theory easily poked holes in upon a cursory glance at the ingredient label. Wouldn’t it be easier to just make my own fruit syrups and stir them into a glass of seltzer? I did alright with a rhubarb and a mango syrup, but they were really nothing to write home, er, I mean to you all, about. It took me a while to get back to the drawing board.
I know it would seem that someone who makes as many celebration cakes as I do would dream only in stacked layers, draped ganache and swirled buttercream, but the truth is that I think that the best kind of cake on earth is a coffee cake. They’re simple and cute; they’re alll flavor with minimal flair; they take a third of the time to make. And they may not make people gasp when walked into a room topped with sparklers, but they, without fail, never make it out of said room intact.
I am the first to admit that I do not create nearly enough of my *own* recipes. Oh, I tweak, I adapt. I skip some things and add others. But I don’t often enough decide that I want something enough to go out and find my own way to get there, which is a shame because when I do, it is never nearly the disaster I expect it to be.