A Sweet Treat to Celebrate Spring
It’s my birthday today; and it’s a big one. Or at least that’s what everyone seems to be telling me….
Me? I’m kind of feeling somewhat neutral about it all. Not that I’m uninterested in celebrating the occasion, but I don’t really feel an urge to commemorate this one in any sort of over-the-top and out-of-the-ordinary fashion (like most people I confide in say I “just have to do!”). I’d rather just stay fairly low-key, in the company of people I love, with some good food and, hopefully, some yoga.
But, thankfully, I am not dreading the milestone either. Because, even though I am now what I considered OLD back in my teenage days, I really don’t feel all that old.
On the contrary, I’ve often mused over whether I should act more “my own age” than I do in my everyday life. That is, until I brush those uncertainties off and embrace the notion that how I should act is only relative to my own experience, and I really do not need to adhere to what society says about my age.
But, I’m not sure I would be in the same boat had I not committed to making a healthy lifestyle my biggest priority. I am happy that I’ve taken the past 10 years or so—and especially the last five—really honing-in on my wellbeing, and I’m confident that the steps I’ve taken have allowed me the freedom to age with strength, confidence, and grace. And to look back on my life on this big birthday and be appreciative, rather than resentful, for all the trials and errors that have brought me to where I am today.
And, ironically, I have come to a point where I now honestly believe that some of my “childish” habits have likely played a huge part in why I don’t feel old. And that may be one of the secrets to longevity: stop taking life so seriously all the time. Being a responsible adult doesn’t come with a rule that says frivolous pastimes are now off the table.
So, yeah, it’s a day to celebrate life for me. But more importantly, it’s also Spring Equinox, an auspicious occasion with which I am always joyful to share my special day. And, this has always been my favorite time of year—a time of rebirth, cleansing, new beginnings. A time of life and color and growth. In the springtime, I can start seeing a path of more clarity for my year ahead. It fuels me with energy, excitement, and anticipation. It means I can start thinking about my garden and all the delicious food I can grow to nourish myself for another trip around the sun. It means longer days to get outside and play.
It is certainly is a time for celebration!
No birthday is complete without some special treat to commemorate it, and few things are more appropriate than cake. In honor of the season ahead (and also because I had a bunch of egg yolks I needed to use) I thought I’d celebrate the occasion this year with a fresh and festive lemon cake, with tons of cheerful color from all the yolks. Bright and sunny, with loads of lemon, the sweet-tart flavors are an ideal way to ring in the spring season ahead. A drizzle of cream cheese icing, sweetened with just a touch of honey, tops it off and makes it a little more festive.
I liken the cake to a pound cake, dense in texture, buttery, and well-suited for an afternoon tea—or a celebration! It can also be adapted to utilize different flours, or even combinations of grain-free alternatives, suitable for many different lifestyles and dietary needs. Because of the dense texture, a Bundt pan is ideal for baking through without overcooking, though it could easily be made in loaf pans, individually baked layers, or cupcakes, should you choose.
Here’s to spring and all the wonderful stuff that comes with it!
Lemon Egg Yolk Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Drizzle
Makes 1 Bundt cake
Serves approximately 12
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: approximately 1 hour
1 cup softened butter
¾ cup maple sugar, coconut sugar, or other dry alternative sweetener of choice (alternately, use 1¼ cups inositol)
½ cup honey
1 cup egg yolks (about 12 yolks)
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large or 2 small lemons, zested and juiced
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1¾ cups einkorn four, or other flour(s) of choice. For grain-free, use 1½ cups almond meal, ⅓ cup arrowroot, and 2 tablespoons coconut flour (cooking time may need to be adjusted, and texture will be denser)
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk (optional)
Honey, to taste
Vanilla, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a Bundt pan (or alternative) by greasing thoroughly with butter and dusting with flour (or alternative of your choice). Tap out any excess flour. Set aside.
- Zest and juice lemons and stir into yogurt, along with vanilla.
- Place softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer or creaming by hand. Cream butter with sugar/inositol and honey until pale and fluffy, frequently scraping down bowl with a spatula. Add egg yolks and whites and continue beating at medium speed for a few minutes.
- Combine flours, if using a mixture. Add baking powder to flour and stir together. With mixer running on low speed, add about ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until mostly combined. Scrape down edges of bowl.
- Add approximately half of the yogurt mixture, mix until almost completely incorporated. Alternate mixing in remaining flour mixture with remining yogurt, starting and ending with flour. Between each addition, scrape down bowl and mix until almost completely incorporated before the next addition. Once all flour and yogurt has been added, gently beat batter so all ingredients are combined.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan. Smooth top with spatula. Bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Check cake at around 45 minutes, then add time in 5- to 10-minute increments, as needed.
- Once cooked, cool on a rack in the pan for about 30 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto rack to cool further. Let cool completely before glazing with cream cheese drizzle. (Or glaze while still warm and eat immediately, if you simply can’t wait.)
Cream Cheese Icing
- Beat together softened cream cheese and softened butter until very fluffy. Add honey and vanilla to your taste. (I used a couple tablespoons of honey and about ½ teaspoon vanilla.) Leave as is for a more spreadable icing. If you want more of a glaze, add a tablespoon or two of milk until desired consistency is reached.
Image from Briana Goodall.