Some of what I love about yoga is that although I’ve been practicing for many years I remain a humble beginner. There is always something new to learn about the practice and about myself. I’m drawn to classes that have a lot of movement in them. Classes that flow through poses with a bit of athleticism suit my personality—they feed and calm my restlessness. Yesterday, an unusually hot and steamy day, I decided to challenge myself by taking a quiet yoga class instead. Offered by Taylor Harkness at YogaGlo and called Deep Release for Flexibility and Grace, the class was filled with only a few poses held for several minutes at a time. The challenge in such a class is to stay focused on the sensation brought up by moving deeper into the pose instead of moving on to another. Sensation can border on discomfort but I learned there’s a lot to be gained by sticking with it. My body opened up in new ways. Taylor likened the practice to an internal cleaning, clearing off and opening up space inside to fill however we choose once we leave our mats. It was a strong and powerful message, one that sustained me through the ache of long calf stretches and intensity of deep shoulder openings. When I wanted to move out of the pose, I went deeper in instead. As a result, I came out of the class energized rather than depleted. I had the space to open myself up to new possibilities, to be creative. Despite the heat, I felt cool and open. I moved through the rest of the day with flexibility and grace.
This Olive Oil and Honey Cake with Cherries was another wonderful outcome of yesterday’s yoga practice. I took Taylor’s metaphor of cleaning literally and decided to clean out our freezer in order to make room for the autumn vegetables about to come home in our farm basket. I found some cherries I had frozen at the beginning of the summer hidden at the back. My creativity kicked in as I developed the recipe for this cake. A cross between a pastry and biscuit, the dough for the cake is not overly sweet nor rich. Once baked, the cake takes on the texture of a double-crusted cobbler. It is a perfectly crunchy contrast to the juicy, sweet cherries inside. Equally delicious for dessert with ice cream, or breakfast with a hot cup of coffee, this cake will fill your day with grace.
To those of you who celebrate, I wish you a very Happy New Year. I wish all of you sweet days ahead.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Olive Oil and Honey Cake with Fresh Cherries
Yield: One 10-inch round cake, about 10 servings
- ½ cup butter (plus a bit more to butter cake pan), at room temperature
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound fresh cherries, pitted and rinsed
- Place a sheet pan in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Liberally butter a 10-inch cake or deep dish pie pan. (The pan should be at least 2-inches deep.)
- In a standing mixer, cream together the butter, olive oil, honey and granulated sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until they are fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt to the the bowl. Mix gently, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredient mixture. The batter will be thick and this is fine.
- In a large bowl, toss the cherries with the remaining ¼ cup all-purpose flour.
- Spread half the cake batter on the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Pour the cherries on top and spread evenly in the pan. Spread the remaining cake batter over the top of the cherries, leaving the center uncovered so that several of the cherries will show through.
- Place the pan in the oven, setting it on top of the sheet pan. (The sheet pan will catch any liquid that overflows from the cake while baking.) Bake until the cake is puffed and golden, about 50 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- Serve and enjoy.
- If you are using frozen cherries do not defrost them before baking.
- Substitute any seasonal fruit for the cherries. Mixed berries will work well in this cake as will sliced peaches or plums. Be sure to toss any fruit with some flour to help keep the cake from becoming overly soggy while baking.
- For a slightly denser cake, use 1 cup whole wheat flour in place of one cup all-purpose.
- For a less rich cake, use coconut oil instead of the butter and sweeten with 1 cup of honey, leaving out the granulated sugar.
- If serving for breakfast, serve some Homemade Yogurt as a garnish to the cake. For dessert, serve with coffee or tea and ice cream.