You may be familiar with that famous poem titled “Cut” by Sylvia Plath, the one that begins
What a thrill —
My thumb instead of an
Well, my dears, that was me a few days ago, except it was my index finger instead of my thumb. And winter squash puree instead of an onion. And an immersion blender rather than a knife.
And it was by no means a thrill.
Unlike Ms. Plath, I shall spare you the decidedly prosaic details of my own kitchen mishap (you can read her poem in its entirety here). In short, many hours in the ER, 14 stitches, and one surgery later, my left hand is swaddled in a cocoon of white gauze, where it is presumed safe from sharp objects and from me.
So it appears I will be taking an unscheduled—hopefully brief—midwinter break.
But I don’t want to leave you empty-handed. Right before the aforementioned incident, I made the cake you see in the picture at the top of this post. It’s a good cake for February, scented with citrus zest to shake off the midwinter doldrums, and so easy to make it can pretty much be whipped up with one hand.
It’s a cheery cake, too, golden in color (from grated carrots), round and mellow in flavor (from olive oil and a splash of marsala), and with the tiniest bit of crunch (from cornmeal).
Please enjoy some cake while I attend to my wounded little pilgrim (with apologies to Ms. Plath) and with any luck I’ll be back within a couple of weeks—fingers crossed (and intact)!
Citrus-Scented Polenta Cake
(copyright 2012 Domenica Cooks)
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin), plus more to coat the pan
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1/2 cup dry Marsala
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups shredded carrots (about 3 large)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square or round baking pan with oil and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup oil, sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zest, and Marsala until well blended (the sugar will not all dissolve).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sea salt, and nutmeg. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture, whisking all the while to avoid lumps. Using a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the shredded carrots. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set it on the rack to cool to room temperature. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar right before serving.