This is my beloved friend Kiara. They say dynamite comes in small packages and she is living proof of that. Today is her birthday and since I can’t spend it with her I’m writing this blog instead – because she’s worth it.
Today I’m raising a toast to you for all you mean to me – yes, I know I’m a sap – but ’tis true – my life is exponentially better because of you ( don’t worry this isn’t going to rhyme the whole way through – dammit I can’t stop!) Kiara, you are one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met and I admire you for all you are and have achieved. Not many people embrace life with such fierce passion and determination – but you do. You are fearless, you dive head first into adventure, you live out of a suitcase, your self-belief is motivational, you live with an uncompromising sense of possibility and you strive to make the world a better place. I wish that I possessed even an ounce of your courage. You are kind, compassionate and so very generous. You are funny and smart and beautiful inside and out. You are also a real hippie, but that’s okay. You are not afraid to dream big – something so many of us forget – despite being knocked down or victim to that inner voice that tells us that this is all there is – you continue to amaze me with your vision and perspective. You are resilient and strong. You once defended me from a bunch of wild dancers at an 80’s music concert despite them being double your height and size. So Kiara, I’m raising my glass to you today and wishing you all the love, joy and deliciousness you so richly deserve. I am also singing the ‘Golden Girls’ theme song and thanking you for being my friend.
To celebrate I baked a grown up birthday cake – made ‘grown up’ by the addition of olive oil and wine! Now here’s a heads up – if you don’t like wine or olive oil and the thought of them mingling in a cake repulses you – don’t make this cake! If you’re adventurous and like to live on the wild side, whisk away! This cake is unusual and fragrant. The wine and olive oil impart a grassy perfume that is complimented by the raspberry jam and the dark chocolatey icing.
Please take a moment to visit Kiara’s fabulous blog and learn about her work, travels and adventures with Rex: http://www.kiaraworth.com
A Grown Up Birthday Cake
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
4 xl free-range eggs
1 cup white wine (I used a chardonnay)
1 cup olive oil ( I used a fruity Spanish extra virgin – if you can’t bear the thought of parting with a whole cup use half sunflower oil)
1 tsp vanilla
Half a jar of good quality raspberry jam ( I used Bonne Mamen)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift together the salt, flour and bicarbonate of soda and set aside ( to tell the truth I seldom sieve – just whisked them together) With an electric beater blend the eggs and sugar together for about a minute until pale and thickened, slowly add the vanilla, followed by the olive oil. Finally, gently mix the wine in with a spoon before whisking in the flour mixture. Divide the mixture between two cake tins – sprayed with nonstick spray and lined with baking paper. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool. Once cool sandwich together with the raspberry jam.
For the icing:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa ( I used NOMU)
1/4 cup full cream milk
Using an electric beater, combine the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until it comes together, slowly add the milk and cocoa until it looks like icing and beat until smooth. Use to ice the cake – or smear over yourself – or eat out of the bowl with a spoon.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WRETCH!!!!!