My family dispersed across the globe in June. Our diaspora was spearheaded by my husband who, having enrolled in a degree in professional and creative writing last year, found himself surprised with the offer to go on a government funded study tour of Norway, Sweden and Denmark to study fairy tales and Scandinavian noir. I imagine the Germans have some long composite word to describe the smile you get on your face when you are trying to demonstrate love and support whilst simultaneously clubbing internal Cthonic green-eyed monsters to death. I don’t know the word, but I’m sure you can imagine.
I was informed by my beloved that part of the assessment would involve keeping a daily journal and that this exercise could profitably be undertaken while engaging in the Swedish tradition of fika. This fine word is apparently both a noun and a verb and means coffee and cake. Apparently if you haven’t done fika you haven’t done Sweden. Required. Almost part of the assessment. Integral to the sense of genius loci. Etc. So fika it would be, and not just any fika: federally funded fika.
Well I had government funding, too. Admittedly not the kind of government funding that sends you to Sweden to fika. More like the kind of government funding that arises from reluctantly accepting contracts that you spent the better part of a year trying not to get talked into doing because,well, you’ve read Kafka and you know that bureacracy is really like that. However, my funding got the kids and I to Bali. So while Pete fikaed, I had babi guling and nasi campur and bebek. I had arak cocktails and lay on windswept volcanic beaches and watched Lombok appear on the horizon at dawn. Not fika, but not half bad.
I have had bloggers block since we have been reunited but tonight it disappeared. It disappeared upon creation of a cake whose unifying qualities dawned on me as its gorgeous smell wafted from the oven. Cake in the fika tradition but scented with spoils from my own journey. An orange and coconut cake made from sugar infused with Balinese vanilla beans and ground cardamon. The recent history of my husband and I joined together in one delicious morsel. Behind me are lined up other spoils of our journey: vanilla vodka, Cointreau and spiced rum. Guess what we’ll be doing once this blog is posted and the kids are in bed?
Orange and cardamon tea cake
- 65g butter, softened
- 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups SR Flour
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
- Finely grated zest of one orange
- Juice of half an orange
- 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
- 10g butter, extra, melted
- More vanilla sugar, mixed with a bit of extra cardamon
Preheat the oven to 180 and butter and line a round cake tin. Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and egg until combined (a minute or two). Add half a cup of flour and half the milk and mix till combined. Add another half cup of flour and the remaing milk and mix again. Add the orange zest, juice, remaining flour and coconut and mix. Pour the batter into the tin and smooth the surface. Place in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 mins before turning out onto a cake rack. Brush the top with butter and sprinkle with the combined sugar and cardamon.