I have this routine, you see. People who live in my neighbourhood – and who are are awake at five o’clock in the morning – will notice the lights of our front window, where the office is, flick on at the same time every day of the week. There they will find me perched, in my pajamas and one of my husband’s sweatshirts, for extra warmth, with a cup of tea resting between my forearms as I type.
And so the first part of each of my mornings goes, working on the week’s blog posts and a handful of other writing projects. The routine at first felt a little crazy – five a.m. is pretty early, even for a self-professed morning person. It didn’t take long, though, before I felt deeply comforted by the routine, and actually quite eagerly anticipated each morning that I got to spend writing – even as the nights grew longer and it would still be dark outside when finally, usually about an hour or more later, I would hear the call from upstairs,
Sounding vaguely like a game show announcer, drawn out on the first m, ending in an almost snappish exclamation; not the moaning, half-awake, middle-of-the-night call-out but a perkier, I’m-ready-to-take-on-the-day-type call-out, filled with zest and the affection of a monkeyish toddler.
The routine of these mornings will keep me going through the length and darkness of winter, when I often find myself despairing at the ice and rain, the short daylight hours, my propensity for illness, and my tendency towards the comfort of all things sugar and cheese. It is one of the things that keeps me ticking; anticipating and eager. Those early hours spent dreaming up recipes, writing the stories that go with them, imagining how I will tell those stories visually, and putting it all together with flour and yeast or spinach and eggs. My satisfaction at this tells me that I am in the right place here, doing the right thing. I hope that when you visit my little virtual cafe, you feel the same.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 12 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Olive oil to brush the pan
- 5 cups pitted dates
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- Juice of half a lemon
- Lemon zest and grated cinnamon to adorn
- Combine all of the crepe ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully incorporated. Preheat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush the bottom and sides of the pan with olive oil.
- Transfer your crepe batter to a measuring cup for ease of pouring. Carefully pour the batter into the centre of the pan, until the surface of the pan is approximately three-quarters covered with batter. Very quickly take a flat, flexible spatula and spread the still-wet batter from the top of the crepe out around the edges, widening the crepe and taking a layer off the top to make a thinner final product. If the crepe has any gaps or holes in it, this batter can be moved over to fill the holes, as well.
- Cook the crepe until the entire top appears dry – there is no need to flip it. Transfer to a plate and begin the next crepe.
- While the crepes are cooking, combine the ingredients for the vanilla dates into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the dates break down and become smooth and mushy. Remove from the heat, fish out the vanilla bean, and cool.
- Stir the honey into the ricotta in a small mixing bowl.
- Allow the crepes to cool completely before assembling the cake. Place one crepe on your chosen cake stand/plate, smear with dates, and pile on another crepe. This time spread some ricotta over the crepe, and toss on a third crepe. Repeat, alternating between the date and ricotta mixtures, until your crepe cake is assembled.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream and icing sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in the lemon juice.
- Top the cake with dollops of whipped cream and a sprinkling of lemon zest and cinnamon.