It felt good waking up with the sun this morning, pulling my hair up into a ponytail, skipping the make-up, throwing on sweats and a tee-shirt, knowing that I didn’t have to leave our little birdhouse today.
As I stood for a minute sipping coffee at the kitchen sink, I watched my gentle-soul-of-a-husband fighting a good, but futile, battle with the dandelions on the hillside in front of the kitchen windows. He stopped to chat with one of our Abert squirrels, who was helping himself to the bowl of dog food on the deck.
It was a warm and sunny day, the grass green as could be from the late snow and recent rains -one of those mornings when I was acutely aware of my surroundings and the moment. I was thinking of my family…missing them, and feeling a bit worn, but very satisfied with my work life.
My mood was tinged with sadness over recent attacks in Manchester, and London, England. I used to call London home, so it holds a very special place in my heart. Whenever I’m asked where I loved living the most, London is the place. It is a beautiful, vibrant city made up of many immigrants, and people of a myriad of colors and ethnicities. I attended an international high school around the corner from my house. My classes were made up of the most charismatic group of people from all over the world. We even had a Saudi prince, who was the class clown and smart as all get out. He kept us all laughing while we struggled to get through chemistry, as he sailed by with straight A’s.
I won’t get all political, though my feelings are strong on the matters of immigration and proposed travel bans, but what I will say is that I pray for more kindness, compassion, and a willingness to know and understand people of beliefs, cultures, and countries other than our own. I have travelled a lot in my lifetime, and wherever I’ve been, I’ve felt welcomed with warmth and openness, and I’ve never felt the least bit threatened. The truth is that most of us live in a relatively safe world with occasional risk, regardless of what some may like us to believe.
So in my simple and gentle world, surrounded by tall trees and singing birds, I find solace and therapy in baking something sweet. It’s not rocket science or the answer to world peace, but I can be quiet, thoughtful, create something delicious, and be in harmony with nature and my life, and in that, I find comfort.
Cherries are amazing when they have been roasted. The flavors intensify into a deep rich sweetness that is incredible. The mixture of the ricotta cheese, which creates a super moist cake, a hint of lemon, and the cherries that roast while the cake is baking, makes a special cake that can be served as a coffee cake or as a dessert.
|Lemon-Cherry Ricotta Cake|
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups pitted and quartered sweet cherries
- 10 sweet cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1½ tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixed, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, sour cream, ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
- Mix until combined.
- In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add flour mixture to the batter and mix until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
- Scattered quartered cherries over the top of the batter.
- Sprinkle the streusel over the cherries.
- Arrange halved cherries over the top of cake.
- Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cake rest for about 30 minutes then remove ring and let cool completely.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- Place the flour, sugar, and lemon zest into a large bowl.
- Add the butter and salt.
- Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until it is well combined.