“Good food and a warm kitchen are what makes a house a home.” – Rachael Ray


 This article (Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed)and its hypothesis that our lifestyles are decided for us has been doing the social network rounds. The basic theme is that our 9 to 9 work life makes us vulnerable to stress and monotony which we try to relieve through conspicuous consumption. While I’m broadly on board with the thought process and have often found myself saying something similar, I don’t know if I agree as wholeheartedly as I used to.

The career corporate lawyer who runs marathons while raising 2 kids, the bureaucrat who writes fiction, the feckless rake who delights in cooking for his younger sister and many, many others I meet or hear of make me believe we need to acknowledge the agency we have in our lives. It’s very sensible to recognize the mistakes we’re likely to make but I’m not sure I appreciate the finality with which the author makes these doomsday predictions.

That ads, models and corporate culture are all peddling their wares is an unfortunate reality but to decide we won’t be able to resist is so pessimistic. People are bundles of contradictions, it’s one of the few things I actually like about us. There are many out there fighting the good fight, refusing to agree with conventional wisdom or falling prey to its pitfalls. It’s easy enough to blame large corporations and their insidious ways but if you know what they’re doing, why play along?

For everyone who decides they’re going to do what is right in the face of a society that expects them to go left and for everyone who agrees that they do indeed have a choice, there is this rebellious little vanilla cake. Sure it’s vanilla, but using granulated sugar gives a little crunch to the otherwise plain, buttery body. And to top it off a deeply fragrant, tea and vanilla infused caramel sauce.

Bet you didn’t expect that.

Serves 8
Recipe Adapted From

What you’ll need:

For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 cup butter
½ cup sugar (granulated)
½ cup light brown sugar
4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
2 tbsp vanilla essence
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt

For the Black Tea Caramel Sauce:
¾ cup heavy cream
2 black tea bags (I used Earl Grey)
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp water
3 -4 tbsp butter

 How to:

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C, grease a bundt pan with butter and set aside.

2. Mix the butter and sugar (brown and granulated) very well, till the mix is fluffy and light. Add the eggs one by one (and the yolk) till the batter is well beaten.

3. Take your vanilla bean, slit it down the middle with sharp knife and scrape out the
fragrant, miniscule black grains. Add the innards of the bean and the vanilla essence to the batter.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add in batches to the cake batter till everything’s well mixed.

5. Transfer batter to bundt pan and put the pan into the oven for about 40-45 minutes or till the cake passes the toothpick test.

6. You can make the black tea caramel while the cake is baking. Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and let it simmer. Once heated through, throw the tea bags and the remains of the vanilla pod in the cream and cover with a lid. Let it sit for about half an hour.

7. Remove the tea from one of the teabags and mix it in the cream. Discard the vanilla and the other tea bag.

8. By this time your cake is probably through. Remove it from the oven and put it aside to cool completely.

9. Heat the water and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook till the sugar starts to darken.

Foodnote: Don’t let the caramel get too dark because it’ll start to get bitter and the tea will also add bitterness – too sauce might get too harsh for the soft vanilla cake.

10. Pour the cream into the caramel and whisk briskly. Add the butter and keep whisking. Take off the stove and let the caramel cool.

11. Once both the caramel and the cake are at room temperature, pour the caramel all over the cake.