There are two types of vacationers in this world:
There are the people who ship themselves off to sunny tropical islands like Hawaii or the Caribbean and return as refreshed as a spring pixie…
And then there’s me.
My Air Walk sneakers dragged their dirty, sorry-faced soles across American soil once again at around 9 PM last night, when our plane finally landed after a grueling 11-hour stint from Asia. If you happen to live in my part of the hemisphere and felt the earth tremble beneath your slippers 18 hours ago, that was probably just my knees giving way beneath me as I staggered off board, luggage clunking mercilessly into the passengers behind me. Somehow, during my last 48 hours in Taiwan, I had devolved into that zombie girl everyone fears is lurking on their flight home–with a sore throat, throbbing head, and a fever to boot, I was a walking contagion apocalypse waiting to bite someone’s head off and hurl it at the next passing aircraft. Yum.
Though I managed to catch a full 10 hours of much-needed sleep on the plane ride, I was groggily awake by 3 AM today and even more grudgingly out of bed by 7 AM, when my body finally conceded defeat to The Dreaded Jetlag, and my head stopped swimming long enough for me to see straight. Ironically, as I’m sitting at my kitchen table wearing 3 pairs of thick woolly sweatpants and writing about some of the creamiest, most wonderful pound cake I remember tasting, I’ve lost a few pounds as a result of my cold. Like a man-eating shark whose captors have served it a platter of boiled tofu, I’m both extremely hungry and without the least crumb of appetite when food really does mosey my way. Blergh.
Fortunately, my tummy has had its fill of amazing street food and other sweet treats these past two weeks, which I spent visiting Hong Kong and Taiwan. There, we ate our bellies’ fill of wonderful delicacies such as Peking duck, stinky tofu, green onion pancake wraps, sesame buns, peanut ice cream, marinated tofu, dan dan noodles, and so much more! If there’s one place where it’s worth sacrificing sanitation for awesome grub (and let’s face it–there’s no health rating at these stalls for a reason), I’m putting my vote out for Asia. We also spent our vacation hitting up great scenic points like Ah Li Shan (pics to come!) and the Big Buddha at Lantau Island.
But let me back up for a second and put that word vacation in big scare quotes: what I really mean is, “VACATION.” Remember how I said in my last post that I was going to spend the next few weeks unplugged? Away from civilization, digital interaction, and all its woe-inspiring burdens?
I will be the first to confess it: I suck at being unplugged. Heck, I knew I was cheating on my plans to disconnect the moment I snuck a great big academic book in my suitcase ‘just in case’ I ran out of things to do at the hotel. Who runs out of things to do in a great big foreign metropolis? I ended up spending most nights frantically sending out school-related emails and researching various faculty/students who might be helpful in shuffling me along in my prospectus writing, and every other night besides fretting about how much future planning I would have to do the moment I was back in the Land of Comfy Sweatpants, a.k.a. home. We spent so much time on our “vacation” running around trying to tally up our sightseeing points (not my preferred way of travel) that between that and catching a cold, it’s no wonder I felt even more wound up after my trip than before it.
There are two types of vacationers in this world. I am the second kind of vacationer. The moment I get home is the moment I can feel grateful for the peace & quiet of my home again, and really start to relax.
That’s why despite the time difference, and despite my droopy eyelids and aching limbs, I am happy to be sitting at my computer once more simply writing this post. As I’ve mentioned so often, writing and blogging serve me much better than sitting on (what I imagine to be) the creaky, burst-seamed couch at the therapist’s office. In between my increasingly hysterical school emails and summer applications, I’ve allowed myself to dabble in writing a few short stories as well, just to keep my mind focused. And of course, the sweet scents of homemade goods like this creamy, cookie buttery pound cake never hurt anyone. Even on a miserable cold afternoon filled with congestion and fatigue, I can hear the faint crackling of glaze as someone slices into a fresh loaf of this slightly sweet, perfectly cinnamony warming pound cake. I hope that next someone is you, in the quaint quiet of your home
It’s good to be back! Happy baking,
Cookie Butter Swirl Cinnamon Pound Cake
Creamy and subtly rich, just as pound cake should be. The hint of cinnamon and surprise swirl of cookie butter that spirals down the middle of this delectable loaf (which is based off the same recipe as my lemon pound cake) makes a great gift or morning wake-up call!
Yield: Two 9×5-inch loaves, OR One 10-inch tube pan
- 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (reduced fat or regular), softened
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 3 cups white sugar
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/3 cup Cookie Butter or Speculoos, warmed in the microwave
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. (Note: You may also use one 10-inch tube pan, but you will need to carefully increase your baking time in Step 7.)
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until very smooth.
- Beat in sugar until very fluffy and pale–I beat it vigorously for a good five minutes by hand to get that great creamy pound cake crumb!
- Mix in eggs and vanilla.
- Carefully mix in flour and cinnamon until just incorporated.
- Pour one-fourth of your batter into one of the prepared 9×5-inch loaf pans. Pour 2/3 cup warmed cookie butter in an even layer over this batter, then top the cookie butter with another one-fourth of your pound cake batter. Repeat with second loaf pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, possibly with little crumbs sticking to it. Small crumbs (not raw batter!) are great! They indicate that your cake is baked through but not overbaked. Always err on the side of a little underbakedness. At this point, remove your cake from the oven and allow it to cool on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely.
- When your pound cake has cooled completely, top with cookie butter glaze (recipe below).
Cookie Butter Glaze
- 1 cup cookie butter, melted
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (or more as needed)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons milk or soy milk, as needed
- Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Pour over cooled pound cake and allow to harden completely before cutting and serving. Enjoy!