Yesterday, I sat with my two sisters, Susanne and Noelle, as we watched four old men wheel my other sister's casket down the church aisle. I held Noelle and Susanne's hand, I counted the freckles that dotted their arms. I was startled by how distinct their fingers are...I can still picture Noelle's thumb, her thin nail.
We buried my sister and my nephew yesterday, and it was the final chapter of a painful story.
Today, Ryan and I went to a garden store...a garden oasis to be more accurate...and I could picture my sister in the garden, her hands covered in dirt, her face shielded by the straw hat they placed on her casket yesterday.
My dad loves to garden too, and so I imagined him back in Colorado, tending to the beautiful blooms he labors over each year. I saw his smiling face, but I couldn't shake the image of him crying over his oldest daughter as he sat next to my two sisters, my mother, and me in that first-row church pew.
I share this recipe because it is something that my sisters' love. A simple poundcake studded with thousands of poppyseeds, too small to pick up with a finger but present enough to turn a plain loaf into something special.
I think of all the days that Pam lived, that Jeremy lived, and I'm sure that many of them felt ordinary, seemed like nothing special. But taken in collection, those days produced something beautiful, something that hundreds of people deeply miss.
If you make this poundcake, be sure to share it with friends or family. Believe me, this cake is rich enough to go around. Take an afternoon off, bake this loaf, and invite those that you love to come over for an evening of laughter.
Those moments of sharing are more precious now than they have ever been.
*Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
16 TBSP unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1 1/4 cups sugar
1. Cut butter into one TBSP pieces and place in bowl of standing mixer. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes to soften slightly (around 60 degrees). Using fork, beat together eggs and egg yolks in a liquid measuring cup. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to use.
2. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and generously grease and flour a 9x5 inch baking pan.
3. Using standing mixer, beat together butter and salt at high speed until shiny and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and with mixer running, pour in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat mixture until light and fluffy, 5-8 minutes. With mixer running at medium speed, gradually add egg mixture in a slow and steady stream. Beat mixture until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, combine your flour and poppy seeds. In three additions, add flour into butter/egg mixture, folding gently with a rubber spatula. Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth surface and bake until golden brown, 60-75 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 15 mintues before inverting onto wire rack. Turn cake right side up and allow to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores