A few days over the past couple of weeks, the weather has cleared up in the late afternoon. The morning’s low grey skies and fat rain drops swept away, quite suddenly, leaving behind a clean slate of blue sky, ready to go pink with the sunset. And about that sunset? It’s getting later! Avery ate dinner the other night in our dining room, and I didn’t even have to turn on the lights. It felt huge.
There have even been a few days that were clear and bright all day long, after several days of rain. Seattle’s rain is what people talk about, but it’s these clearings that I think are worth a mention. There’s something magical about the curtain of low clouds whisking open, revealing mountains that were hidden for days. Suddenly, you see what’s started to bloom and sprout, thanks to all that rain. And the post-rain smell of freshness? The best.
On the clear afternoons, after Avery is home for the day, we’ve blown bubbles in the backyard and scrawled chalk across the driveway and pushed a red tricycle up and down (and upanddown, upanddown, upanddown …) the sidewalk. Those things haven’t been possible during the dreary months and shorter days, and doing them again has me (and Avery, too, I think) giddy.
The early inklings of spring always boost my spirits, reminding me of the lovely warmer days that I’ve all but forgotten. This year, they’ve also got me reflecting, as we near the end of our first full year in Seattle, but looking forward, as well, to the arrival of our baby boy in late April. If spring is just around the corner, he’s almost here; our family is almost four.
All of this makes me feel like I just woke up after a long night of deep sleep. It has me craving a walk around Green Lake. It gives me a goofy grin as I walk up and down the hills around our house under the warm-ish sun. And it makes me want to get into the kitchen to cook or bake—just for the sake of creation. I haven’t felt that urge in a while.
So, during a recent quiet stretch of weekday, when I had a short window between conference calls, I puttered around the sunlit (!) kitchen, and baked a buttermilk citrus loaf cake—fragrant with winter’s citrus, but somehow promising the light brightness of spring, too. The end, it seemed, was in sight.
Citrus Buttermilk Loaf Cake
Adapted (pretty heavily) From This Bon Appetit Recipe
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons citrus zest (I used 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest (from 1 grapefruit), 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 2 small lemons))
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed citrus juice (I used the juice of 1 grapefruit)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil, like canola)
1/4 cup yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, rub the citrus zest into the sugar using your fingertips, until the citrus sugar is well blended. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another medium bowl, whisk the citrus juice, eggs, buttermilk, oil and yogurt.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture; stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.