Dear friends of Labna, today this website celebrates 10 years of life: it is a special occasion, that calls for a moment of reflection and that allows me to bring you up to speed with many things that happened in my life, my future plans, and some exciting Labna news.
If you are in for a long chat, you can continue reading the post below; if you are in a rush or only care for this deliciously moist pumpkin cake – which is also understandable! – you can jump straight to the recipe.
This website has been a bit neglected lately, as you probably noticed. However, very few of you know what’s been going on behind the scenes, and it’s time I open up about it.
In the last year, many things have changed in my life, things that have distracted me from these pages.
I moved countries twice, I first moved to Tel Aviv, then very recently to California, Santa Monica to be precise, where I now live with my partner.
My partner Shlomi, whom I have never officially introduced to you on these pages, has a 10-year-old girl, Maya, who is certainly one of the most beautiful things that has happened to me in life. We also have a dog together, a golden doodle named Latte, who is now 4 months old and drives us crazy. I am sure that those among you who have kids will not be surprised from my findings, but I never imagined how much of a ridiculous effort it is to live with a family under the same roof, taking care of people you feel somewhat in charge of.
In a really short time I have traded my single girl life in my studio in Milan with a two-floor giant house in America and my diet has gone from “I’ll skip lunch, bake brownies, and have them for dinner” to “Maya wants overcooked pasta with butter for lunch… we need salad and proteins ’cause we are fat… and has anyone fed the dog yet?!”
Cooking is a wonderful activity when you do it for pleasure, but when you have to do it year-round for all the meals of the day it suddenly appears to be a less sexy way to spend one’s free time.
On top of that, when you have a family, even an unstructured one like ours, you always put the interest of others ahead of your own: sometimes I’d like to cook or bake something for Labna, but I’m needed in the garden to play volleyball with Maya or fetch with Latte. It’s all good, but it makes it hard for me to focus on things that are also special and important, such as this blog.
As if all of the above was not enough, I have also experienced a change in perspective, lately, about my “online life”. Since I have a lot more of “real life” to deal with – and by real life I mean the one in which you walk the kid to school and run to the supermarket, but you also try that same morning to work and study for school at the same time – my online life has started to look less interesting and less authentic. I feel a mix of sadness and anxiety when I scroll through my Instagram and look at all of the unrealistically elegant and thin girls decorating perfect cookies in shiny kitchens… I feel like that train has passed and gone for me: I’ve been there, done that, and now it’s time to do other, more concrete things.
All of this long chatter is to explain to you why this blog is not updated as often as it should and why I’m not online as often as I used to. Now let’s move on to something more important: we have two big pieces of news to celebrate!
The first thing we need to celebrate is Labna’s 10th anniversary: who would have ever imagined that this little website would grow so old? 10 years online is a ton!
I made the cake you see in the picture to celebrate Labna’s anniversary, but also – I admit it! – to get rid of the very many pumpkins I decorated the house with last Halloween. This cake is super easy to make and takes no time at all: if you buy your pumpkin puree canned, this marvel of a recipe comes together in 10 minutes and one bowl.
The next thing we are celebrating today is a piece of news that further explains my absence from this blog: I’ve just signed my contract for a cookbook, a real one, that will be published here in the US… when I finish writing it, which might take a while. The book will be dedicated to Jewish Italian cuisine: it will describe how Jewish and Italian cuisine have influenced each other over the years, but it will also offer a window into the kitchen of a contemporary Jewish Italian family.
The original recipe comes from Sally’s blog, I’ve made just some minor tweaks to the spices.
Moist pumpkin cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree or 2 cups homemade mashed pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a baking pan: a bundt shape or a normal sheet shape would work well.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-36 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- If you find the top or edges of the cake are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set the entire pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
– 2 cups 250g all-purpose flour