Friday is always the best day of the week, the whole week end stretching ahead of us with plenty of time to spend with family and friends, doing stuff you have been impatient to tackle all week long. No pre-dawn alarms going off, long leisurely breakfasts and cozy winter afternoons to spend at home reading, baking or watching the game.
Some Fridays, however, are better than others.
This is one of those: I cannot start telling you how excited I am to get this work week over with. It was pretty crappy, let me tell you, with part of our team calling in sick, tons of work and... the dreaded call from daycare on Tuesday to inform me that my son had a fever. I will spare you the long version of how my other colleague got the same call and how we struggled all week with the workload and organizing several babysitter so their schedules would fit perfectly, allowing us to stay in front of our computers to face the emergency.
To top it all off, it snowed. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow and get as excited as my kids when I see the first flakes. But trading in my bike for public transportation before dawn and trying to coordinate the arrival and departure of the aforementioned army of babysitters in the middle of a minor snow storm for several days in a row just made the week that much more stressful.
But now it is late afternoon and my week end is starting. I am savoring this moment, every minute of this Friday night.
I am looking forward to a relaxed evening with my husband and kids. No constant eyeing the clock, rushing dinner so the little ones get to bed on time. We’ll leave that to a school night, thank you very much. Maybe Mommy and Daddy will have a glass (or two) of wine and will listen to them chat away about their week and it won’t matter if it takes twenty minutes longer to finish those vegetables they always relegate to the side of their plate.
After dinner they will climb into Mommy and Daddy’s bed to all read a book together (even a long one tonight, who cares?) and then they will be allowed to fall asleep there, a special weekend treat. Mommy and Daddy will perhaps enjoy a movie and nibble on something sweet and then they will carry their babies into their room and tuck them in for the night.
I know I can get nice and cozy under my duvet and read until my eyes lids start drooping because I don’t have to worry about being at my desk at 7:00 the next morning. There is nothing better than that luxurious feeling of having all the time in the world (or until you can stay awake) to do something you love.
You want to hear about something else that is truly luxurious? A syrup soaked cake. The most dense yet fluffy, moist cake you have ever tasted, a Greek siropiasta (which literally means soaked in syrup) dessert called ravani. The recipe comes from Magda and I knew it would be special because I already made her saragli a while back and they were outstanding. I am usually more inclined towards chocolate and ice cream when I think dessert but as
I get older grow up I feel more and more attracted to the sticky, crunchy desserts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern tradition.
I made this using up things in my pantry (dessicated coconut included!). Besides the coconut perhaps, you will probably have everything you need in the house already. What is not to love?
Magda made some variations to the original recipe and I made some more. I used orange instead of lemon because I wanted a really subtle citrus flavor. The next time I will try the lemon to see how it contrasts with the sweetness. The texture is reminiscent of a Bounty bar but the flavors are delicate so don’t let words like orange, syrup or coconut scare you away if you are more of a brownie or custard kind of person. Trust me, because I am. Make this.
I wish you all a fabulous Friday!
160gr butter, room temperature and a little extra to grease pan
1tsp baking powder
140gr desiccated coconut (not sweetened)
juice of half an orange, freshly squeezed
orange peel from the same orange
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Grease the pan (use a spring-form if you have one; I didn’t because mine recently broke) with butter.
In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Pour in the milk and keep beating. Add flour and baking powder and finally mix in the coconut until blended.
Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake it on the lower rack of the oven for 35 minutes. Then move it to the middle rack and bake until a toothpick comes out clean (about another 15 minutes).
In the meantime, to make the syrup, place the sugar, water, orange juice and orange peel in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and keep stirring until sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes. Remove the peel from the saucepan and discard.
When the cake is done let it cool, but not completely. When it is still warm, pour the still-warm syrup over it, one spoonful at a time starting from the middle.
Leave the soaked cake to absorb all the syrup and let it cool completely. Open the spring form pan and cut the cake into squares, or if you use a normal pan like I did, serve in slices.