goals

Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping


Right now I am lying on my bed with my shoes on. 
White sunlight coming in through the window. 
Two nights ago, I saw a band called Chipper Jones play. 
Of course the beauty of music, and the particular beauty of live music, is that it brings you into NOW.
Watching the drummer play, I thought he was so graceful. Even though I’m still not totally sure what “grace” really even IS. Internal peace? Quiet? Silent passion? 

So much of my time these past few years has been me struggling to find a rhythm that makes sense— trying to find the grace in motion. 
Like the kind of grace I thought that drummer showed, even if only for a moment. 

I don’t know. 


I realized the other day that from here on out, with only one semester of college to go, not that it hasn’t been real— but that the planned time is mostly ending. 
It’s like the feeling I get when I think about how old I’ll be in ten years. 
Or how I felt when I first realized that in the next few years many of my friends will get married, someone is going to have a baby, everyone falling in and out of love across time zones, working working working on their New Year’s resolutions for the rest of forever until 
The End. 
Of course, this is the beginning of the rest of forever.

I made a cake the other day. 



A buttermilk skillet cake with a walnut praline topping because I like it when things are tangible. Because making things gives rhythm to days that pass so quick/slow. 
And making things feels like grace. 

This year, I want to make things. 

One of my favorite people in the entire world sent me a mostly incoherent, very drunk email on January 1st. At the end of the message he said, “all my love. from a lost yet broken yet wonderfull soul.” 

“Lost yet broken yet wonderfull.” 

Somehow, I feel that this really sums it up. 

"Yet wonderfull." 

I love you I love you I love you. 


xoxo
m


Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping
from The Joy the Baker Cookbook

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the praline topping:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
generous pinch salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 375F/ 190C, positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Butter and flour the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9-inch cast-iron skillet (or a 9-inch cake pan).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until blended and lighter in color, about 3 minutes. Add egg and yolk, beating for a minute between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Turn the speed to low, and add half of the flour mixture. Next, add the buttermilk, and when the flour is just combined, add the remaining flour. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gently finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula, taking care not to overmix. Spoon the batter into prepared skillet or pan, spreading evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake bakes, make the praline topping: in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, cream and salt. Bring the mixture to a soft boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and nuts. Inhale.
Let the mixture rest in the pan for 20 minutes, to firm up. Once it has rested, and the cake has been removed from the oven, pour the praline mixture over the warm cake, spreading evenly. (If you chose to bake this in a cake pan instead of a skillet, remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cake plate, before pouring the topping over the cake.) Serve immediately, or at room temperature.
Cake will keep, well wrapped and at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Lighter-Than-Air-Chocolate Cake


Hello Beloveds, 
Yesterday was my birthday. 
I’m 20. 


Now is such a difficult and strange time, and the past several months have had me all achey and breakey. Growing pains. 
Somehow, yesterday, the sky was tremendous and blue and I felt this delight and calm settle over me. I don’t know if it was the weather, or the fact that I was very tired, or just because I’m no longer a teen. 
But I was so happy. 
I am still so happy. 

A friend asked me what my intention for being 20 is. I told her, I said, "Gratitude and forgiveness. And I want to write better songs." 

That’s all. 

The future is strange and dark. No one, no one, no one knows what is coming next. And yet, somehow yesterday, under that blue sky, I felt a lightness and freedom that I have not felt for a very, very long time. 

It’s all going to come out in the wash, falling down and picking myself up again, with a song in my throat, I go forward. 

We go forward together. 

Thank you thank you thank you. 



Lighter-Than-Air-Flourless-Chocolate-Cake
via SmittenKitchen.com 

My mother baked me this incredible cake. It’s like eating a chocolate cloud. And gluten free! 

To make four cake layers:
12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
6 tablespoons water
12 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

For filling: 
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons Grand Marnier* or Rum of Some Kind or Other 

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease four 9-inch circular cake pans and line bottoms of circles with a piece of parchment paper.
Melt chocolate with water in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Cool to lukewarm.
Beat yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 5 minutes in a standing mixer or about 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer. Fold in melted chocolate until blended. Beat whites with cleaned beaters until they just hold soft peaks (you will need an enormous bowl for 12 egg whites).
Gradually add remaining 2/3 cup sugar and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Fold one third of whites into melted-chocolate mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Spread batter evenly over four baking pans and bake until puffed and top is dry to the touch, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating cakes between racks to ensure they bake evenly. Transfer pans to cooling racks and if necessary, loosen edges with a knife.
Sift cocoa powder over top of cake layers and place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the pans. Place a baking sheet over paper and invert cake onto it, gently peeling off wax paper lining. Place layers in the freezer for about an hour, until they are firm enough to be carefully lifted without breaking.
Make filling: Beat cream with powdered sugar and Grand Marnier with cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks.
Fill and stck cake: Bring first cake layer out of the freezer and arrange on platter, cocoa side down. Spread one-quarter of filling evenly over the cake. Bring the next cake layer out of the freezer, placing it gently over the filling, again cocoa side down. Repeat this process until all layers and whipped cream are used.
Keep cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Two hours should be more than enough to assure that the layers are no longer frozen.
Dark chocolate grated into curls with a vegetable peeler makes for an excellent garnish.
* You can substitute the following for Grand Marnier: 4 tablespoons Cognac and 1 teaspoon vanilla; 4 tablespoons cocoa and 1 teaspoon vanilla; or 4 teaspoons instant-espresso powder or instant-coffee granules dissolved in 4 teaspoons water plus 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Isn't it strange when you look around at all the people in the world, and realize that every single thing that they're wearing, they chose to put on that day. 
Isn't that insane? 
Clothes are perhaps one of the only things that people have any real control over. 
Dressing up is a way to be empowered. 
This Apple Tarte Tatin is like your Little Black Dress that shows enough cleavage so that you feel voluptuous but not slutty.  
It's perfect and easy going and classy. 
It's simple. 
It's divine. 
It goes with everything. 
And everyone loves it. 

Sophia Loren 

Distressing Facts in Life Part I: Many people do not know what an Apple Tarte Tatin even is. 

 

Basically it's apples that are cooked in butter and caramelized sugar until they almost have the consistency of jam. It's a slice of beauty. 


Do yourself a favor. 
Get classy. 
Get the Little Black Dress out. 
Make Apple Tarte Tatin
Exercise some beautiful control in your life. 

Apple Tarte Tatin
via SmittenKitchen.com

6 medium apples (I used Pink Lady apples and they were oh so good.) 
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) butter
1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
Puffed pastry, chilled or a single Pie Crust

A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes


Peel apples, halve and core apples. Once cored, cut lengthwise into quarters (i.e. four pieces per apple) and cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge. (You can see this beveled edge here.) Toss apple chunks with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes; this will help release the apple’s juices, too much of them and the caramel doesn’t thicken enough to cling merrily to the cooked apples.
Melt butter in your skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining 1 cup sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes the palest of caramels. Off the heat, add the apples to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any additional apple wedges rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.
Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the apples and baste them caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your apples in the center are cooking faster, swap them with ones that are cooking more slowly, and rotate apples that are cooking unevenly 180 degrees. The apples will shrink a bit and by the end of the cooking time, your second layer of apples might end up slipping into the first — this is fine.
Preheat oven to 400. Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry round over apples. Tuck it in around the apples for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan, learn from my messes!) over the pasty and with a deep breath and a quick prayer, if you’re into that kind of thing, unmold the pastry and apples at once onto the plate. If any apples stubbornly remain behind in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.
Eat immediately.


LIFE GETS BETTER

Hey Darling. 

I write to you sitting at an old desk, in a new room, in front of a new window, with a new view. 

Do you ever have moments where you're just like, THIS IS MY LIFE.

And then you smile. 

I am smiling right now. 

I am living in a new apartment, with new/old friends whom I adore, and I am listening to Regina Spektor and Stevie Wonder. Whom I also adore. 


It feels like things are finally falling into place. 
Like things are maybe starting to be right.

I have a new skillet:



Let me tell you about this skillet. 

It is cast iron. And for the rest of my life, wherever I go, this skillet will go with me. It is one of the most beautiful things I own. 

Moving into this apartment, it was weird to realize how much of my personality I define by my possessions. I brought the things that represent me, that remind me of who I want to become, and things that remind me of who I was. 

For me, this skillet is about hope for the future. 

I have so much hope. 



I am going to cook you some beautiful meals in this skillet. I am going to cook a meal for someone I love, a meal for someone I hate.  I am going to cook in this skillet when I am angry, sad, blue, hurt, happy, hopeful, joyful, in love, in loathe, in sickness and in health. This skillet is for good times and for bad times. This skillet is the future. But it is also the present.

And the beauty of cast iron skillets, is that you can cook everything in them.

I am so excited for all of this everything. For all these new beginnings, filled with new and old recipes. 

It's the blossoming of hope. Of newness. Of life happening. Again. 

LIFE IS HAPPENING AGAIN!

P.S. There is one last thing that I must tell you. That excites me so much. 
I love to sing and write. And this year I started writing songs for the first time. Which has been so impossibly thrilling. I recorded this EP with love in my living room. Here is what it looks like: 


Please please please give it a listen here: http://mbryce.bandcamp.com/ 
I would so appreciate it. 

                                                                                         XOXO