May 06, 2007

Follow the yellow brick road...

“The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick.” - Frank L. Baum

An international 20th century pop-culture icon, the yellow brick road led Dorothy and her companions on their journey to the Emerald City -- and in the process taught them to live.

Another yellow icon, the bright plastic awareness wristbands remind us that every day, millions of people around the world are living with, through, and beyond cancer.

Yellow, for cancer?

A cancer diagnosis is one of those life-altering events for which there is no preparation. With its discussions of staging, metastasis and survival rates, it's difficult not to get buried in feelings of helplessness and despair. I love that Lance Armstrong chose yellow as the symbolic color of cancer awareness. Cancer is cold and lifeless. Yellow is cancer's antithesis. It fights back. It provides contrast. It's tenacious and honest. It offers courage, hope, light and life.

So when Barbara of Winos and Foodies announced A Taste of Yellow to commemorate LiveStrong Day -- in honor and celebration of those living with cancer, I knew I wanted to participate.

LIVESTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country.
I've written before about how cancer has touched my life. John's grandfather. His father and mine. Too many of our friends. Breast cancer. Lung cancer. Lymphoma, prostate cancer, bladder cancer. As their bodies betrayed them, these everyday heroes faced their mortality head-on -- and learned something about living in the process. Even more amazing, through their examples they shared those lessons with all who love them. Whether or not they overcame the diseases they faced -- they lived proudly, joyfully, with honor and dignity -- and taught me the importance of doing the same.

As a small expression of my gratitude and my love, today I bake for each of them.

I chose a Vanilla-Infused Golden Saffron Cake as my "Taste of Yellow". Vanilla for its elegant simplicity, and saffron because many cooks consider it an indulgence for special occasions. My cancer heros have taught me that each day the sun rises is cause a special occasion, and a homemade cake fresh from the oven is plenty reason for celebration.

1 Tablespoon butter, softened
1 Tablespoon sugar

1-1/3 cups cake flour
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 large whole egg
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 375. Using paper towel, coat 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Dust lightly with 1 tbsp sugar.

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and baking soda) with a whisk. Set aside.

Stir saffron threads into two tablespoons milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup milk, egg, and one teaspoon vanilla. Add cooled saffron mixture and whisk well to incorporate. Marvel over brilliant yellow color.

Pour the wet mixture over the flour mixture and whisk gently to combine. Resist overmixing -- whisk only until ingredients are well-incorporated.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Let cake cool for 15 minutes and carefully de-pan onto festive plate.

While cake cools, stir water and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in remaining teaspoon vanilla.

Poke holes evenly in the cake with a wooden skewer. Spoon the vanilla syrup over the top of the cake. Let cool to room temperature.

Garnish with lemon zest, candied ginger, or fresh red/blue/blackberries.

Bon Appetit!

Recipe inspired by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone's Golden Saffron Cake.

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Unknown said...

A powerful post D. Thankyou. And a gorgeous cake too.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Incredible! The cake looks so moist and yellow. I love the flavors you combined here!

Peabody said...

Saffron and vanilla...nice!

Lis said...

Excellent post =)

The cake has me wondering when I could make it, it looks SO GOOD!


Cheryl said...

Oh this looks really good. Moist and beautiful, the top has such a beautiful pattern on it too.

Deborah said...

This is such a beautiful cake!!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post... I know how you feel when you say that these people have taught us all something about how to live our lives.

Your cake is gorgeous! Great entry...

Anonymous said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. Lovely job writing this.

Elle said...

What a beautiful post and lovely celebrationcake. I like the addition of saffron. Must try it!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Dolores, I think this recipe is just perfect.

Unknown said...

I love this take on saffron cake! Sounds absolutely delish!

Freya said...

A wonderful post, infused with dignity and power.

bossacafez said...

hi there, im just bloghopping. you've got a really lovely blog!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

A beautiful write up and recipe to honor life. Thank you.

Kelly-Jane said...

That's a heartfelt post, and so true. Your cake looks extra special and YELLOW!