“Why seek revenge? Karma is going to get the bastards anyway”
- Ajahn Brahm
The saying goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Wise? Yes. But the yellow-peel road from sour lumps to sweet lemonade isn’t easy: squirts of lemon juice launch like finely-honed missiles with your eyeball as their target. It also has a special way of seeking little paper-cuts to give you a good stinging. Heaven forbid there’s a bandaid over a cut, sealing the juice right into the wound and making you do the Yelpie-Stingy dance while trying to rip the fabric from your finger.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s not easy to make good of a bad situation. I’m the champion of hosting a Perpetual Pity Party for one with a resplendent sour lemon theme. I’ve been deeply hurt in a way many of us experience, adding a tonne of sour lemons to the proverbial backpack I carry everywhere. For a year or two, I’ve carried it. Carried the bitterness, the heaviness, the resultant draining of emotion. It’s exhausting and it sucks the life out of you. Then I had my lightbulb moment:
“It’s only heavy if you hold it, but if you let it go, it’s got no weight at all.”
Think about it slowly once more. Things are only heavy if we carry them, but if we choose to let go, we’re free. Mind. Blown.
So I’m choosing to shed the cubic mega-tonne of lemons I’ve let consume me. It’s slow going, as old habits die hard. But whenever I find myself going back to that place, those memories, those feelings, I say STOP IT, Emma. LET. IT. GO. And I can feel the load lightening a little more with each release.
To commemorate turning gross lemons into better things, I baked a Lemon & Poppyseed Cake. It’s a lovely little cake, based on a pound cake recipe by the venerable Rose Levy Beranbaum (author of The Cake Bible). She also happens to request making lots of little stabby holes with a skewer into the top of the cake, to brush through the accompanying lemon syrup. Good times ahead, people. Release away.
Hey, lemons. Yeah you. You aren’t so tough once we juice the crap out of you and mix in a little sugar. Punks.
LEMON & POPPYSEED CAKE RECIPE
You will need:
45g milk, room temp
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6g Lemon zest
28g poppy seeds
185 g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
75g caster sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a medium loaf tin.
In a small jug combine the milk, eggs and vanilla. In an electric mixer bowl combine the plain flour, cornflour, caster sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds. Beat in the very soft butter and half of the egg mixture until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute to aerate the batter. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
Scrape the batter into the greased loaf tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 55 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup. Place the caster sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the oven.
While the cake is still warm, poke many holes deep into the cake with a skewer, then brush the lemon syrup over the top sides and base of the cake. Wrap the cake in gladwrap to seal in the syrup, then store in an airtight container for 24 hours. This allows the syrup to seep through the cake.
Recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum Copy available from The Book Depository