For the last few weeks, I’ve been caught daydreaming more often than not. The world seems such a rosy and blissful place, and smells faintly of lavender and baking cookies. It’s like walking on clouds – I can’t feel anything negative, everything seems so fair and lovely. In Vietnamese, it’s mơ mộng or thơ thẩn , which embodies this beautiful dreamy state. I’ve been told this is the post-engagement honeymoon phase – whatever that means. Despite the la-dee-da mood, I have been in serious contemplation about the… shall we call them, implications… of this huge life-changing decision. A few months back, The Atlantic published an incendiary article entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All by Anne Marie Slaughter. In short, it reflects on the hardships of women who want it all – the career, the family life, the social life, etc – and how incredibly impossible it is, given the current environment. I’ve been closely following the ensuing threads related to that article, and can’t help but feel a little disappointed in what I’ve seen. This simultaneously parallels my own personal conflicts of figuring out how I will need to balance my own life and career goals, with my own personal family goals. Of course, every woman wants to be superwoman, but how can we do it when the infrastructure is not there to support us? I hate that for many career-oriented women (myself included), marriage and children seem like a ball and chain on our ankles, a hindrance to those of us seeking high profile careers. In my earlier forages of the dating scene, I would bluntly tell my former paramours that I was not interested in marriage or a family, for those very reasons listed above. But somewhere along the way, I met the right person and I changed. And now, I want so badly to prove the opposite, to defy the odds, to prove that I can have it all, but the dialogue surrounding Slaughter’s article is really disheartening. After all, we’ve come a long way from the era of stay-at-home moms and one-income families of the 1950s. But there is just still so much more to overcome. In the meantime, what to do?
Blueberry Crumb Cake
Source: Ina Garten via FoodNetwork
To me, this crumb cake is reminiscent of Starbucks’ berry crumb cake, which I am absolutely addicted to. The lemon zest really brings out the brightness of the blueberries, and adds intricacy to the sweet, buttery cake. Then couple that with a crunchy/salty streusel top, and you’ve got a winner. I’ve made adjustments to the original recipe after some constructive feedback, and I think it is infinitely better. I hope you enjoy.
For the streusel:
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/3 c brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 stick (8tbs) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c pecans, toasted and chopped
For the cake:
6 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2/3 c sour cream
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter 9″ bundt pan. Ina’s original recipe calls for a regular 9″ round pan, but I think the bundt pan helps the cake bake faster and more evenly.
For the streusel: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix and set aside.
For the cake: In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder/soda and salt. Set aside.
With a stand (or hand) mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On a lower speed, add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and beat just until combined. By hand and with a spatula, scrape down the sides and fold in the blueberries. At this point, try not to fuss with the batter too much, or else you will end up with a streaked batter- not really pretty blotches of violet across your pristine cake (unless, of course, you like that). Spoon the batter into your prepared pan, then crumble the topping evenly over the batter.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool about 5-10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan and allowing to cool to room temperature. Serve as is, with a pot of tea or a dark chicory-coffee.
Look at that beautiful streusel topping.
As Slaughter points out in her article, she is incredibly lucky to have a very supportive partner and nurturing family, though she acknowledges that most women don’t have that luxury. Personally, I think I’ve worked much too hard to compromise on my own dreams and goals – whether that’s the next degree or owning a small business or eventually partner at some firm or tenureship at some big school. Luckily I have a partner who understands that. We both have come to understand that married life doesn’t (won’t) get in the way of these goals – if anything, we think it actually makes the experience and hardships a little easier to endure. I just wish everyone else saw it that way too.