November 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
Books have been my world for as long as I remember. I surrounded myself with characters, places into which I could escape, and the very words themselves, their inky type set on yellowing paper. I’d stay up late, devouring stories by lamp-light; make myself motion-sick in the car because I couldn’t stop turning the page. Those worlds, those words, always more satisfying than my own.
Later I’d churn out page upon page of script analyzing the psychological motivations of Author A and the social constraints of Author B. I always wrote my essays by hand and I still prefer pen to laptop when I’m serious about a piece of writing. Blue pen, narrow-ruled page, loopy script. By analyzing the books, I ingested even more of them, worked them through me and back out to the page, until they were as much a part of me as my own best friends and lovers.
Later still, books became my living. I narrowed the distance from authors and got stuck into the more prosaic but revelatory realities of planning and publishing books. Individual words became less important in my role than big ideas and chapter breakdowns. I got a privileged glimpse into the real lives of authors: the realities of deadlines and word counts and promotion. I enjoyed the form of books, the nuances of cover design, bibliographic arrangement.
At the end of this year, I’m changing my work hours to give me more time to spend reading and writing. I’ll still be commissioning, and I’m still intrigued and inspired by the industry, but I’m also looking forward to more space for immersing myself in individual words again and to spending new time beneath words too. I intend to read and write voraciously yet aimlessly. No goals, no essay deadlines or publishing windows to consider. Just words and worlds. And a bit of cake, too.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s Tartine
Autumn is for readers and writers. Cuddle up with a doorstopper of a novel, a steaming mug and a piece of this cake. The original recipe omits the chocolate chips. You can do the same, but be warned that you’ll be going against this blog’s advice.
225g (1-2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
255g (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) pumpkin puree
200g (1 cup) vegetable oil such as safflower, sunflower or canola
270g (1-1/3 cups) sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup (200g) chocolate chips (I used bittersweet, 62% cocoa solids)
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the oil, 270g sugar, pumpkin puree, and salt. Whisk vigorously until combined, either with a stand mixer or by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one until completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour-spice mixture and fold with the spatula until just combined (be careful not to overmix). Finally, fold the chocolate chips into the mixture
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkly each evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until a cake tester comes out with few crumbs clinging, about an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and cool on a rack completely. The cake is best when fully cooled, or the following day. Wrap well in foil and store in a sealed container for 2-3 days.