Living on a shoe-string budget forces you to really use reduce, reuse and recycle to your advantage. I turned old coffee tins into canisters, old magazines into drawer liners, and used ketchup bottles into rolling pins. I even had a pot rack and a clothes rack made out of old PVC pipe and a bit of rope.
My new found industriousness also brought out the baker in me. Baking bread myself was a great way to save a little bit of cash, but it also, somehow, eased my soul. You can work out a lot of emotion kneading dough or mixing batter. Sometimes my tears would spill over into the batter adding a bittersweet saltiness. Sometimes my fears and anxieties would knead their way through the dough. Sometimes laughter and friendship would mark out the minutes as my little tabletop oven baked away.
For every new season, I'd dig through recipes online looking for new ways to use mango and pears, granadilla and guava, avocado and zucchini--each ingredient providing a rich and flavorful nuance and creating a new experience of taste.
But the more often I put on my baker's hat, the more I realized baking is really an act of generosity.
It is impossible to bake for one. When you divide a recipe for one serving, it never bakes just right or tastes the same--its too salty or too sweet or a bit burnt or wobbly in the middle. Baking is about generosity and hospitality. Its sharing with the neighbors and making friends with the granny down the street. Its coffee cake for tea time at the office and birthday cakes for friends and family. Baking is an act of giving and receiving. Its an act of love and care for someone else.
Last year for my friend Sarinah's birthday, I found a recipe for a Mango-Berry Crumb Cake. Sarinah is not a fan of chocolate or really any sweets, but she loves fruit, especially mango. Lucky for her, her birthday falls in mango season. It turned out to be an especially nice coffee cake--not too sweet but full of flavor. Each bite was a whole experience to itself as the sweetness of the mango blended with the tartness of the raspberries. I still remember her taking that first bite and watching her enjoy something created just to make her taste buds pop.
Since baking is an act of generosity, I think this forum is a good place to be generous. So I'm starting "Sunday Servings" for those of you who might want to join me in being a little more generous through the act of baking. Each week, I'll post a new recipe I've tried and share a little bit of its story. Because if baking is about generosity, then every baked good has a story. I'd love it if you'd share your recipes and their stories here too.
Today on my 30th birthday, I think it is fitting to kick-off Sunday Servings with Sarinah's Mango-Berry Crumb Cake. Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 mango - peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 cup raspberries (You can use frozen if fresh raspberries are not available.)
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
- Mix crumb topping ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand. Set the topping aside.
- Beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
- Mix the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, stirring just to combine. After the last of the flour mixture is incorporated, gently fold in the diced mango and raspberries. Spread the batter into the prepared pan (the batter will be thick). Sprinkle with crumb topping.
- Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.