Do you ever look back at different times in your past and think "That seems like another lifetime ago?"
It happens to me all the time. It sometimes feels like I've lived at least seven other lives.
There was this one life when I lived in an apartment complex (the kind that's spread out over an acre or so, with tons of little clusters of buildings) in San Jose, California. I was pretty unhappily married, but my then-husband and I lived in the same complex as our best friends (another married couple). I mean, I could walk to their house in less than a minute, anytime I wanted. It was like a semi-Friends sort of situation.
I used to bake a lot during that time. It was therapeutic. I used to clean a lot because that was therapeutic too. Anything that could take my mind off how I was really feeling about everything, I did. That's how I discovered this cake.
I don't remember where I got the original idea for it- a cooking magazine or maybe the food network. I have no clue, but I changed the recipe to make it slightly healthier (not vegan at the time, though) and I used to make it with lemons. It became my favorite thing to make because I knew, without a doubt, it would turn out well each time. It was something I could control and had guaranteed results. And it was delicious, so I made it a lot.
I remember making double or triple batches of this cake to freeze or share with coworkers or take to our friends who lived thirty seconds away. It's strange because I don't remember much from this time. I couldn't tell you what style of clothes I was into or how I wore my hair or how our bedroom was decorated or even what my then-husband really looked like at the time, but I remember this cake.
Recently, while pondering what to do with all of the blood oranges I had on my counter(courtesy of our CSA), I remembered this life I once lived and this cake that I made. I pulled the old recipe out of my old recipe binder and began tweaking and veganizing.
This cake is even better than the original because a.) it's vegan, therefore much more compassionate, b.) it's a really pretty pink color from the saffron-spiked blood orange glaze that is brushed on soon after it's taken out of the oven (lemon juice never really changed the color all that much), and c.) it's somehow even moister than the original, making every bite practically melt in your mouth. Chris was unsure of the idea of putting saffron in a cake, but after one bite, he was convinced. He couldn't get over all the different flavors packed into each bite or how intricately and complexly layered the flavors were. Because the saffron is soaked in hot blood orange juice, it lends a grassy, or earthy, taste that pairs beautifully with citrus.
I'll be the first to admit, this cake, because it is made with blood oranges, resembles meatloaf to an extent. Do not let that put you off. It's pretty fantastic. Once the glaze sets into the cake, the exterior of the cake takes on a bright, citrusy, candy-like taste and the interior is sweet, yet earthy, and extremely moist. Because I'm in a different lifetime, I didn't take this cake to my friends to share (though I definitely thought of them a lot). With my new, compassionate, blood orange version, I made new memories of sharing it with my current husband over the course of a week. And I committed to memory just how handsome he was with each bite he took.
- almost 3/4 cup blood orange juice (you'll need 1/4 cup and roughly 1/3 cup)
- 2 pinches of saffron
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted but at room temp
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or agave syrup)
- 1/2 box silken tofu, pureed
- 1/4 cup saffron spiked blood orange juice, reserve the rest
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon blood orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- remainder of saffron spiked blood orange juice (about 1/3 cup)
- equal amount of powdered xylitol (or vegan powdered sugar)
- In a small saucepan, bring the blood orange juice and saffron to a boil, then immediately turn the heat off. Let it continue to steep.
- In a small cup, mix together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), blend the oil and sugar together. With the mixer running at low speed, add brown rice syrup, silken tofu puree, 1/4 cup of the saffron spiked blood orange juice (using as much of the saffron threads as possible), and almond milk/vinegar mixture.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches, mixing after each addition. Mix just until smooth.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake until raised in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry and almost clean (a few crumbs are OK), 50-60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the powdered xylitol/sugar and the remaining saffron spiked orange juice (roughly 1/3), until the xylitol/sugar is dissolved.
- When the cake is done, let cool in the pan 15 minutes (it will still be warm). Set a wire rack on a sheet pan with sides (to catch the glaze) and turn the cake out onto the rack. Using a pastry brush, spread glaze all over the top and sides of the cake and let soak in.
- Repeat until most of the glaze is used. Reserve the rest of the glaze to spread one more layer on the cake once it has cooled. Let cool at room temperature. Re-glaze and serve. Enjoy!
Do you ever feel like certain times in your past were from another lifetime?
Photography by Chris Miller
Oh, I loved this line - "And I committed to memory just how handsome he was with each bite he took." So sweet. It must be even sweeter than that completely mouthwatering cake.
This post really resonated with me. I recently read the newest book from Gretchen Rubin called Happiness at Home. In it she talks about appreciating and relishing this moment, because although it seems like it will last forever, this version of normal, everyday life is fleeting. It seems like we'll always do the things we do, go the places we go, and cook the things we cook, but that evolves almost imperceptibly over time. Suddenly one day you remember the way you used to do things, the places you used to go, the things you used to wear, and realize it's not you anymore.
Thank you, Cadry. That sounds like a great read! It is so very true- we are always constantly changing, shifting, even though sometimes it's not even noticeable. It's such a great reminder to cherish every moment and not take anything for granted because it is all very fleeting. I'm going to have to track that book down. 🙂
Oh, and the pictures in this post are particularly gorgeous. I love all of the blood orange splatters. Was Chris playing Jackson Pollock? 😉
THank you! I did all the splatters, but I was stunned when Chris sent the pics to me. I think they are some of his best photos. 🙂
i feel the same exact way, too. i look back two, five, ten years ago and think of all of the different "lives" i've lived. my brother and i actually have a saying, "a vegan day", which means that so many things have happened in one day that you look back and think those things happened a year ago. i don't know why we came up with that name, maybe because we often have those types of days and we're both vegan 😉
i was a HUGE pound cake fan back in the day. i have never tasted nor heard of vegan pound cake. but, i'm not gonna lie, your cake looks a billion times better than any non-vegan pound cake i've ever eaten. the glaze is beautiful and i love the color of the cake itself, as well. it looks so moist and i'd love a big fat slice right now.
I love that both you and your brother are vegan! That is such a gift- I would love to have another vegan in my family. I have one cousin who is vegetarian, but it's not quite the same. 🙂 I have "vegan days" too, when after I've had a really long day, looking back, that morning felt like three weeks ago.
I was really into pound cake too, when I was younger. Sara Lee- straight from the freezer section at the grocery store. 😉 I'll have to try it with gluten-free flour the next time I make it, so I can share it with you. 🙂
Thanks for this -- it looks delicious. I have a mental block with blood oranges (can't get past the thought of eating blood) but I might give it a try.
And yes, I do feel like I have lived several lifetimes. I had a similar experience as the one you described (down to having friends in the next condo building) and it seems like ages ago. All I can say is that I'm happy I'm no longer in that life.
Thanks, Beth. I totally know what you mean- I am so thankful to be in this life, this chapter, right now. It's the best life so far. 🙂
Angela @ Canned Time
So beautiful Kristy, and your story is touching, bringing real life to your wonderful cake. I love 'food blogging' because you get to know so many people and once in a while, how they got to where they are. How we cook often has such relevance to what's going on in our lives, AGREED!
I've had a couple different lives and some recipes have survived...some too difficult to bring forward and adjust. So glad you shared this one with us, it's just scrumptious looking 🙂
Thank you, Angela! I couldn't agree more- sometimes I find that the story behind the recipe is much more interesting than the recipe itself. 🙂
I totally know what you mean about some recipes being to difficult to recreate in our "current life." I guess some things are best left in the past. 🙂
Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
Ah, that color is gorgeous! I look back at high school and think that was a lifetime ago!
Thank you! And I know- high school just feels like ages ago! 🙂
Agree with Cadry.. i love that line too.. there are several lives for sure.. and every moment that i can so something special with hubbs is a memory to keep for sure:)
i love the blood orange glaze.. and the saffron in the pound cake is intriguing.
Thank you, Richa! It's so true- we have to cherish every single moment we have with our loved ones. 🙂
Oh boy, do I know that other life - knowing unhappiness and doing everything not to acknowledge it cuz that would mean having to DO something about it. Thankfully there were other lives that were much happier and of course, THIS life right now that is pretty darn good. Beautiful thoughts and beautiful recipe, Kristy.
Thank you, Annie. That's exactly it isn't it- ignoring the unhappiness because making change can be so daunting. I'm so glad we were both able to make the necessary changes because this life is the best life so far. 🙂
It's crazy how life can feel so long and so short at the same time (I'm only 22 but some things really so feel like a life-time ago..)
What an interesting cake- I'll admit I kind of thought it looked like a veggie loaf at first with a barbecue glaze! But saffron and blood orange sounds amazing. Do you think I could make the recipe as muffins?
Thank you, Emma! You know, I think making it in muffin/cupcake form would be a great experiment! You should give it a try and let me know how it goes. 🙂
I had to go back and reread the first part of your post, I was too busy lusting over the photos - the first shot against the white board is amazing!!! I LOVE blood oranges and the color set against the white it stunning!
This is such a unique recipe, I love baking with Blood oranges- the addition of Saffron is brilliant!
Thank you, thank you, and thank you! Chris and I really had fun with this photo shoot. 🙂
Gabby @ the veggie nook
Wow Kristy, I had no idea you lived such a different life at one point! I can't believe how strong you are for recognizing it and changing it for the better!
This cake looks so pretty! I love the colours and the idea of adding saffron to a cake is genius! I will definitely be bookmarking this.
I love that you are making new, happy memories with this cake. You and Chris sound like just the sweetest most amazing couple ever 🙂
Thank you so much, Gabby! Chris and I really have something special. 🙂
Your photos in this post are gorgeous, and it seems like a lovely idea for valentines. Can't wait to try it!
Thank you so much, Laura! 🙂
Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack!
I never once thought that this cake looked like meatloaf, so I think you have nothing to worry about! Honestly, it's so beautiful; and I love the shots of you brushing the glaze onto the cake.
I don't know that I can say I've felt like I've lived different lives, and that might just be because I'm always changing something. But, there definitely have been times that seemed like they were ages ago, but are still slightly fresh in my mind.
Great post, Kristy!
Thank you, Jackie! 🙂
This is a super fantastic post Kristy! I love the honesty and can relate to your words hear more than you know! I too have foods that trigger many memories -- this loaf is absolutely gorgeous too! XO
Thank you so much, Shira. xo
What a beautiful cake! I didn't think it looked like meatloaf at all until you said something. 🙂 Love all the flavors going on in here, and the photos are great too!
Thank you, Melissa! That makes me feel a little better. 🙂 And I have to agree with you- this is some of Chris's best work. 🙂
I made this recipe this weekend. I don't use saffron, so I don't keep it around. But! I use turmeric often, so I substituted it for this recipe. It brought out a deep earthy flavor.
How interesting! I never would've thought to sub turmeric for saffron, but I guess it makes sense. I'm so glad that you liked the cake! 🙂
I have that feeling all the time! I am amazed how much my life (and I) have changed over time. It makes me very curious about how my life will be in ten, twenty, thirty years, and who I will be as a person then. I know for certain I'll always be a baker at heart!
This looks delicious and I hope to be giving it a try soon!
THank you, Jess! I often think that too- who will I be in another 10, 20, 40 years. It's pretty neat how we are always in a state of growth and change. 🙂