It is very early on what looks to be a brilliant spring morning. The radio is off so that I can listen to the song of the lark outside my window. I am filled with melancholy. In the oven is a fragrant lemon cake I meant to make weeks ago. My intention was to share it with a neighbor who I always wanted to know better.
Down a lane and across a covered bridge lived Marilyn. Like her mother before her, I saw her as a woman full of quiet strength and grace. She seemed to love life and a quick conversation left you eager for more. She used words like marvelous and had a magical way of painting a picture with what she chose to say. She lived in Venice and fell in love with an enchanting Italian man. Italo had a way of making everyone feel welcome by simply saying their name. I used to take their dog with me for long walks in the woods. At the top of the mountain behind their house I would pick blueberries to bring to Italo, just so that I could hear him call for me as he and Marilyn sat on their porch.
Life gets in the way, some times we loose the opportunity to stop and enjoy what is important. I wish I had taken the time to have a cup of tea with Marilyn. I take solace in the fact that she was the type of woman who would understand. Whenever I make this lemon cake I will think of it as Marilyn's - just as I do when I see Italo's blueberry bushes begin to bloom at the top of the mountain.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour, shaking out the excess. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for just a minute, until foamy and smoothly blended; the mixture should not thicken. Whisk in the grated zest. Bit by bit, sift the dry ingredients over the foamy egg mixture. Whisk the flour into the eggs, mixing lightly - there's no need to beat. Incorporate the coconut milk and then melted butter into the mixture.
Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan - it will level itself - and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center of the cake crowns and cracks and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake to a cooling rack to rest for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature right side up on a rack.
Some believe that a pound cake needs a day to ripen, but it is wonderful as soon as it cools.
The cake should be stored wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. It will keep at room temperature for 3 or 4 days or, if double-wrapped, can be frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.
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Photo Credit: Julie Cecchini