When days happen like that one last week, when I awoke to find even my personal one-egg frying pan scratched by careless hands that don't know how to look after non-stick surfaces, and a sink spattered with breakfast debris and unknown bits in the sink trap, when it seemed the universe was bent on being ornery with me... when those days happen, some pre-verbal reflex takes over.
Without my having to think too much about it, the flour and eggs come out, and the glass mixing bowl. No butter in this recipe, the one from Orangette that I've made more times than any other thing I've ever cooked or baked. (Yes, family o' mine, even more than mashed potatoes. Believe it.) Instead of store-bought yoghurt, this time I have homemade kefir, a culture as unadorned as can be.
Whipping the batter is a good outlet, and the thing that makes this cake one of my favourites to bake is its adaptability. I swap the flour for wholemeal, sometimes forgetting to add raising agent, and it still rises forgivingly. I hold back, way back, on the sugar and it still tastes like a cake should. And the crumb -- oh, I could write songs about that crumb.
Like some magic cake from Enid Blyton that never goes wrong regardless of what went in -- or didn't -- the lemon yoghurt cake helps me to remember that my life is very much the same, thanks to a grace bigger than I could ever imagine. Scratched frying pans seem so small, so trivial in comparison.
There is one vital difference, though. You can't serve my life hot from the oven with strong, sugarless milky tea.