I was supposed to post this write-up on November 29, my last day at the office in Calcutta. Even though the post was written on time, the photographs eluded me, and therefore despite sitting in my draft for more than 2 months now, it couldn’t see the light of day. But at long last, the visuals to accompany the post have reached me and hence I’m indulging in a little bit of time travel and taking you to what was possibly my most nostalgic day in Calcutta before I left the city.
It is my last day at the Calcutta office. Next week this time, I’ll be in a new city. I’ll have a new house, a new address, a new office, new colleagues. This is the third time I’m leaving my city for work. Every single time I’ve done that in the past, I’ve come back. With a transfer, with a new job, without a job. But I have come back. Because coming back made sense to me. Because staying away from my city was something I couldn’t handle for more than a couple of years at a stretch. But this time, it’s going to be a bit different and I guess however much suffocated I might become in the new city, however much I might miss home, however much I might yearn for Arsalan’s biryani or Dakshinapan’s phuchka or Blue Poppy’s Kothays, I’ll have to stay put. Calcutta will gradually become a place where you go on holidays. Your parents will become people whom you see for 2 weeks a year (unless they visit you of course). My office cabin, tucked in one corner of a massive British-style building, will be a place that I’ll secretly miss sitting at a much posh-er building in a much posh-er Koramangala.
As I type what is certainly my last blog post on this keyboard, I fondly think of the last 2 years that I’ve spent at this place. The memories are interspersed with occasional irritation, angst, revolt and frustration. But largely this has been the room which has been utterly rewarding for me. This is where I have done most of my writing, drafting, recipe-browsing/saving, and blog posting. To make matters more nostalgic, Guilt Free was born in this computer, on this very screen, on this keyboard. What was just a random expression of thoughts on a jobless day back in February 2014 became an inseparable part of my being in close to the last 2 years. My new office will probably not give me the licence to blog from my terminal, and that is exactly what makes this space special. That is what makes this one of those places in Calcutta that I’ll surely miss once I move out.
As they say, wherever there is an end, there is a new beginning. And whenever there is a new beginning there has to be something sweet. So let me bid adieu to my prized computer with this Apple Cake with Brandied Apricots and Walnuts.
Recipe inspired by Williams-Sonoma
Butter, softened at room temperature: 3/4th cup
Caster Sugar: 3/4th cup
Egg yolk: 1
Wholewheat Flour: 1 cup
All purpose flour; 1/2 cup
Baking powder: 1.5 tsp
Baking soda: 0.5 tsp
Cinnamon powder: 1 tsp
Nutmeg, freshly grated: a fat pinch
Golden syrup: 1/2 cup (you can substitute it with honey or maple syrup)
Apple, cored and cubed: 2 medium or large (I kept the skin on, you can remove it if you want)
Dried Apricots: 3/4th cup
Brandy: 3/4th cup (I used cherry brandy)
Walnuts, chopped finely: 1/2 cup
1. In a bowl, soak the apricots in brandy. Let it rest uptill a week or overnight at least.
2. Once you start, in a big bowl, whisk together wholewheat and all purpose flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3. In a blender, mix together butter and sugar till fluffy. Add golden syrup and blend again. Now add the eggs and yolk one at a time and blend after each addition.
4. Transfer the wet batter in a big bowl. Now gradually fold in the dry ingredients/flour mixture, 1/3rd at a time. Add the apples, apricots (along with any remaining brandy) and walnuts and fold them until combined.
5. Preheat oven to 180 degree C and line a round/square baking tin with baking parchment and butter the sides. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap against the kitchen counter a couple of times to smoothen the top.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let it cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding.
7. Cut into squares or triangles (depending on the shape of your cake) and enjoy with your cup of tea/coffee.
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