Love and Happiness and Matcha Marble Pound Cake

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We all deserve baked goods and joy.

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Recipe Link:
Matcha Marble Pound Cake (Just one Cookbook)


I’ve never been one for baking. Feeling comfortable in my own happiness, maybe even less so.

I tend to spend more time on prep whenever I’m baking. Probably out of fear.

To be fair I haven’t done a ton of baking in my lifetime. A few scattered trays of cookies here and there, the odd batch or two of muffins when the mood strikes (if anyone has a killer poppyseed recipe please for the love of God pass it along!). But the main problem is really that my tendencies are fairly antithetical to good baking technique.

I get ants in my food-making pants whenever there’s downtime; boredom, impatience, and distraction all start creeping in eventually. Inevitably leading to scattered moments of recipe-tweaking, both good and bad. Drop in another pinch of spice here, give a pot just one more tiny stir there, leave a dish in the oven just a smidge longer while the kitchen timer rings unacknowledged. With cooking these habits are usually at worst innocuous and sometimes even a boon, adding just the right oomph or pizzazz to a meal. But with baking that kind of improvisation usually leads to doom and disaster in my experience, potentially the recipe-killing kind.

I’ve baked this recipe twice so far, as you can probably guess the first iteration fell victim to these inclinations and I found myself with two loaves of matcha pound cake that were sorely lacking. The cake was too dry after being left in the oven, probably because I was busy watching a bad movie trailer or reading an inane article on internet trends or which tech mogul did something abhorrent that day. Then I completely bungled the green matcha swirl on the cake; I wasn’t paying enough attention to the recipe and combined a bit more than 1/3 of the batter with the matcha mixture, so instead of a singular swirl of that bold matcha green I ended up with more of a Seuss-like pound cake with a hint of white. On top of that apparently I don’t know how (or couldn’t be arsed) to put parchment paper into my pans properly, so the loaves ended up with nooks and crannies all over the place. Just a dry green asymmetrical mess of a loaf.

The swirl of my misfortune. Don’t look at it!

Being antsy is kind of the default state for me. Staying in the moment has always been a challenge, try as I might. No matter how brilliant or lovely or wonderful something is, a thought of what comes next or what my plan is, either in the immediate or the absurdly long-term and existential, usually starts creeping into the den of commotion you could call my thoughts.

Part of me finds strength in this, always having grand plans full of adventure and promise on the horizon. I think it keeps me moving, motivated to work towards that next big thing whether it’s a recipe or a career move or something for family & friends or whatever. I always tell people when they like some morsel I’ve made that “I have notes” on how to improve, no matter the feedback. Someone could tell me a dish tastes like it was brought down from on high by the gods themselves and I would still say the same thing. There’s a reason I’ve always liked putting a “Notes for Next Time” section at the bottom of every post. But the other half of that mindset is dissatisfaction comes a lot more easily, probably naturally. Success brings discomfort a lot more often than you might imagine. There’s a difficulty finding contentment within the present, and every peak you reach just reveals another off in the distance. And if you don’t pay attention that need for continuous improvement can get away from you and suddenly motivation has turned to helplessness in the face of a constant climb.

The only way I know to stave off this unfortunate side effect is to be mindful of your victories and lean into them, even when it feels uncomfortable. Which you might think would come more naturally in a world full of social media highlights and humble-brags, but for me it always feels awkward and strange. Not to imply any sense of humility, this is shyness and discomfort more than anything. At least when it comes to the more quantifiable parts of life. But thankfully ignoring these thoughts is a thousand times easier when you’re dealing with something you can’t put a number on. I’ve become a lot better with this over the last few years, but it’s not too hard to stay in your victories when we’re talking about laughter and conversation with friends or a quiet moment with someone you truly deeply care about. I always try to close my eyes at some point and take a deep breath acknowledging that moment for just a second longer. Without looking like a weirdo of course.

Look at that swirl! There’s hope for me yet

Thankfully the second attempt came out a fair amount better. Instead of a sad dry excuse for pound cake, after a successful toothpick test I pulled out two fairly moist and decadent loaves. With two well-balanced matcha swirls to boot! I still had a few notes, but that could wait. For now I’ll reward myself a quiet moment of peace over a few slices and a cup of green tea.

Notes for Next Time:

  • I have to get that damn swirl right
  • Learn how to use parchment paper like someone who isn’t a spaz
  • Enjoy the victories a little bit more
  • Buy bigger mixing bowls and a mini whisk