Life has a fine way of shaking things up every now and again. You consistently work your ass off at getting things somewhat in order, you spend your days being happy and organised thinking ‘this is it, I think I’ve nailed life’, and then life dumps a load of chaos in your lap. Think again buddy, life is more real than that.
In the midst of life’s little chaotic episodes, it’s easy to get caught up in emotions. It’s the chaotic times when I wish I was a cold hearted ice maiden. I wish I could wake up and rather than my first thought being all about the chaos, it’s actually one of not caring. Sadly, as warm blood-pumping-through-our-veins humans, we do tend to care. Often a little too much, and sometimes even when the chaos does not belong to us. And if you’re a deep thinker, well, add a whole other level of bedlam in amongst the chaos.
I read an interesting quote by Septima Poinsette Clark the other day that got me looking at life’s challenges with a slightly different perspective. People talk about looking at the positives, but honestly, if you’ve lost a loved one or you’ve been hurt beyond comprehension, how the hell can you look at the positives? It’s not always possible, not at first. Often at the start or in the midst of the storm there simply are no positives, or at least so we believe. This quote however does highlight an underlying positive. “I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.” A little tiny flashing beacon, at first slow and steady, dim even. But if you think about it, think really hard about any situation you’ve been in where you really didn’t think there could possibly be any positives, there was. Through troubled times we ultimately gain strength (often over time without realising it), we gather experience, and maybe even wisdom to be able to manage a similar situation differently next time. Either way, wonderful thinking is a positive. After all, who doesn’t want to encounter wonderful thinking amid the chaos?
And then, above all else, there is coffee.
When everything you ever knew changes and you find yourself adjusting that life you thought you had mastered all over again, there are a few constants. Lifelong friends that come running with open arms and a heart full of kind words. Family. One look at your partner, child or parent and there is instant comfort. And then the superficial hints of comfort such as coffee.
When I first got my coffee machine, I used to spring out of bed in anticipation of my morning cuppa. I am by no means a morning person, so this tells you how very much I love coffee. Every day I take a moment or two to sit and sip a good cup of coffee, and just be. The taste transports me far away from any chaos, if even just for that moment. Holding the cup feels like home. And the smell, oh the smell!
This cake on its own is very mild in taste, but combined with mascarpone and cream it is delightful. I love a simple sponge or tea cake, I prefer them to the cakes piled high with various toppings and rich fillings. This one is super simple. Deliciously simple.
Ingredients // makes 2 x 18cm sponges
225g butter, cubed, at room temperature
225g light muscovado sugar or caster sugar
60ml strong espresso, cooled
4 large eggs
200g plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1-2 tablespoons milk
50g caster sugar
Dark chocolate for garnish
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease two 18cm tins and line bases with parchment paper.
Beat butter and sugar until paler in colour and fluffy. Add espresso and combine. Add eggs one at a time, mix well.
Sift dry ingredients over the butter/sugar mixture and beat until combined. Add enough milk to make a smooth consistency.
Divide mixture evenly between two tins. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until risen.
Cool cakes in tins for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and allow to completely cool.
Whip cream until firm peaks form. Add mascarpone and sugar and beat until combined and consistency is thick.
Place first cake onto serving plate and pour half of the mascarpone/cream on top. Place the second cake on top and spread the remaining mascarpone/cream on top. Make decorative swirls with the back of a spoon. Grate chocolate over the top.
And eat with a wonderful cup of coffee, of course.