so newly cold
spring summer autumn lie in drifts under the trees
the dreamtime has come
a fire in a clearing
in the forest
with, overhead, the stars.
Clouds of breath, heads are planets,
the newness of finding answers,
making a shelter from the rain
firewood, dry sticks. Last year’s
poems are kindling, they make good fuel
good flame, good ashes. Birds who have stayed
sing about cold, the clarity
of the moon, the stony creekbed its sounds
of the scent of brewing tea, winter again,
a fire in a clearing.
~ Michael Dransfield, Collected Poems (1987).
In the middle of a Queensland winter the skies magically clear. The veil of cloud is drawn from the sky and pure, crystalline blue paints the dome of the sky and pervades the view from every window. Against this azure canvas the bright waxy yellow skin of the lemons on my neighbour’s lemon tree stand bright and bold and beautiful. I long for the sharp clean taste of lemon juice and rind in everything I eat. Sharp, acidic, pure it cuts through the sticky sweet or slow-cooked savoury pots of winter food. I also love using lemon in baked goods, and this Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake is the perfect mid-morning midwinter treat. Cut a thick slab, brew some tea, and watch the winter sky for a little while.
Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
I used a 10-inch bundt cake tin for my cake. You could use a 10-inch springform pan instead if you do not have a bundt tin. Please ensure that you butter and line the tin well to avoid leaving half your cake in the pan. This is especially important with intricately designed bundt tins.
This is the kind of cake that keeps well for a few days. Perfect to make on a Sunday and wrap up slices for lunch box treats throughout the week.
- 125 grams butter, softened
- 100 grams cream cheese
- 200 grams caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 250 grams plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Thoroughly butter (or oil) a 10-inch bundt tin and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachments beat together butter and cream cheese until completely combined and smooth.
- Add caster sugar to bowl and beat until pale and fluffy.
- Add eggs to bowl one at a time and beat each addition until well combined. Scrape down the bowl between each egg.
- Pour lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla essence into the batter and mix well.
- In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mix to bowl and on low speed mix together until just combined. You may wish to finish the mixing by hand so that you do not over mix the batter.
- Pour batter into prepared bundt tin and slide into the oven.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes (this will vary on your oven, and the size of the baking tin used). Check every 10 minutes. Towards the end of baking you may need to cover the top with aluminium foil to avoid a burnt crust.
- Insert a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when the cake is completely cooked. Remove cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then upturn cake onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before drizzling with lemon glaze and serving.
To make the lemon glaze: mix together 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. You want a firm but flowing consistency – stiff enough that it doesn’t fall off the cake, but liquid enough to flow down the sides. You may need to adjust the amount of juice or icing sugar to achieve this consistency.
Tell me dear reader, do you love midwinter mornings?
Any favourite poems about your part of the world?