The grass filled the cracks formed by crooked cobbles. Paint chipped off the hand rails. The walkways, stairs and narrow roads shifted direction drastically. Laundry criss-crossed these corridors and fluttered gently against a bright blue sky. Beyond the cobbles, colors and clothes, the city stretched along the winding Douro river and stacked vertically. Wherever a house could possibly fit, its bold colors and warm tiles contributed to the breathtaking scene.
Amidst these steep climbs and vistas, the elderly teetered about their daily routines. Their solid legs and stout bodies moved steadfastly through Porto without self pity or doubt. Necessity and grit propelled them through the verticality of the city, putting much younger, winded tourists to shame.
Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert recently wrote an article about channeling your inner crone. Unlike an inner child, the crones are the old ladies and men who have lived through enough hardship to push past worry and fear. They are the resilient ones, the feisty ones, the sassy ones, and the wise ones. They are the women who chose to return to their homes in Chernobyl. They are the Tripeiros of Porto who plod onward and upward, and put the young ones to shame.
Lemons are a sassy fruit, making their presence known in each tart bite of this pound cake. The calming, herbal sage accent sweetens the fresh tartness. Sage is the French word for wise and sensible. Together, this is a cake for my inner crone, for the sassy, tart, wise old woman I want to be and feisty, calming woman I want to channel when fabulously young me feels a tad bit frenzied.
Whole-Wheat Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon-Sage Glaze
Yield: 2 loaves
1/2 pound (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups organic cane sugar
4 extra-large organic eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup lemon zest (6 to 8 large, organic lemons)
3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
3/4 cup organic heavy cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Oil and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl, combine the lemon juice, the heavy cream, and vanilla.
Alternately, add the flour and lemon juice mixtures to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes on a rack.
2 cups organic confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup organic Meyer lemon juice
3 Tablespoons organic lemon zest, finely grated
3-4 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar, and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, whisking often.
Remove from heat, and stir in the lemon zest and sage.
Once the cakes are cool, set them on a rack over a tray or sheet pan, or place them on a parchment-lined pan.
Pour the glaze over the tops of the cakes, and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Here’s to the hills!