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Return to Normalcy

After a five month run, I quit my second job. While I loved my coworkers and the job’s social aspects, I didn’t enjoy the way I was living my life. Running around from one job to another was making me frantic and my creative endeavors suffered tremendously. It’s amazing what happens to your energy when you are operating at a very basic level.

Doing the things you love like writing and photography take a back seat and you no longer feel the urge to enjoy the life you lead. I’m grateful to have met and become close to a couple of the stylists but I can’t wait to focus on more personal projects.

To usher in this joyous time (seriously, I’m ecstatic), I tried my hand at one of my favorites: lemon pound cake. I know that I make a lot of these pound cakes (Brown Sugar Pound Cake, Perfection Pound Cake, Pumpkin Pound Cake) but there is something magical about this cake. It’s like a childhood friend: reliable, sturdy, and unforgettable.

Who knew that a pound of butter, sugar, and a handful of eggs can produce something so delicious in an hour? Obviously, I forgot how baking works in my five month dry spell.

To capitalize on the fresh lemon produce at the market, I decided to find the ripest lemons around and infuse their flavor into this cake. Lemon and I are buddies, and I’ve had great experiences with this tart ingredient (see lemon buttermilk cupcakes, lemon cream tart, and lemon poppy seed squares).

Unfortunately, this cake didn’t live up to its name. It lacked the strong lemon flavor I craved. However, I don’t blame the recipe; I didn’t utilize lemon extract like the recipe indicated.

Apparently, I forgot that recipes are there for a reason. Silly Amanda.

The cake was delicious nonetheless. It took a little over an hour to bake, instead of the recommended 50 minutes. To prevent the tops from burning, I covered the cake with foil, ensuring the outsides didn’t get too brown.

I eagerly shared this cake with friends and family, who happily noshed away, exclaiming their giddiness that I was finally back in the kitchen. Lord, you’d think they never had a baked good before! But I will take their enthusiasm as a welcome home hug. I think I will enjoy this return to normalcy.

Lemon Pound Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Makes Two Loaves
Cooking Time: 50 to 60 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Butter and flour two 4 1/2-by-8-inch (6-cup) loaf pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon extract until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the oil and lemon juice.
With mixer on low, add flour mixture and beat just until smooth (do not overmix).
Divide batter evenly between pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes (tent with foil if browning too quickly). Cool 15 minutes in pan. Turn out cakes onto a rack; cool completely.

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March 17, 2010 - 1:02 am

Frog Hollow Farm Girl - Sweet Greetings from Frog Hollow Farm Girl. I know what you mean about losing creativity when your energy level is consumed by things, while they may be rewarding in many, many ways, do not help nourish your soul in that very basic way. Right after commenting on your post I’ll be looking for an Irish Soda Bread recipe. By the way, FHFB said that he will share his recipe for stuffed artichokes, would you like me to send it your way? Ciao, Bella!

March 17, 2010 - 1:05 am

Frog Hollow Farm Girl - Hi again, sorry, I confused you with another blogger!! Guess I shouldn’t begin commenting until I have that second cup of coffee. Small Burst had asked for the stuffed artichoke recipe….I need to get my act together – but I always, always love reading your blog!

March 17, 2010 - 4:01 am

LoveFeast Table - I hope with rest your juices come back and the thrill to create returns!! I come from a family of artists who have not settled until they found a job that allows them to be true to who they are! Keep lookin’, you’ll find it!!
Happy St. Pat’s Day!

March 17, 2010 - 5:03 am

Maddie - I’ve been in that same position, and know how it feels. Before I moved closer to my office, I spent three or four hours a day commuting. When you’re overcommitted like that, all your energy is spent just existing, rather than living and creating.

On the upside, I’m sure the experience made you really appreciate your free time now! Glad you’re enjoying it.

March 17, 2010 - 8:49 am

Dolce - I would have cut out the lemon extract anyway since you are using so many fresh in the first place !
And congrats on your new life, less hectic, and quitting your job!

March 17, 2010 - 12:38 pm

Amanda - You are absolutely right, Maddie. I am loving my free time now :)

March 17, 2010 - 5:18 pm

Felicia - Congrats, doll! I’m so happy you gave yourself the greatest gift one could give of oneself: time. Time for yourself and your passions. BRAVA, girl!


March 17, 2010 - 9:40 pm

bianca - I feel you; I work 4 jobs and the toll it takes on creativity is something else…yay for you for still making this lovely lemon delight!

March 19, 2010 - 3:09 pm

nblades - Wow that cake looks amazing. Good job on recognizing where you needed to cut back so you can focus on what really drives you!


April 6, 2010 - 11:10 pm

frabala - I will try it for sure! And this because it is a simple cake for acompanying a cup of coffee…
And because i love fruits in cakes!

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