The third Monday of January is known as Blue Monday here in the UK, supposedly the saddest day of the year. Why? No, it’s not just because us Brits like a moan but it’s more a combination of things… bad (usually wet) weather, shorter & darker days, the aftermath of Christmas, long stretches between pay days (that’s a killer!) & the prospect of a few more months of winter (ugh). Throw in a global pandemic & it’s not difficult to see why we might be feeling a bit glum right now.
Whilst scientific in nature, Blue Monday was nothing more than a marketing ploy to get people to book their holidays (honestly), however, over time the day has become more commonly used to raise awareness of mental health issues. That’s probably the thing I’m missing most during all this chaos & uncertainty, my travels. January has always been my planning month. I research, bargain hunt, book & fill our calendar with travels, getaways & days out, giving us plenty to look forward to throughout the year.
Instead, we’ve all had to temporarily adjust & change our priorities in life this past year. For me, instead of giving up on the year just yet, I’m just refocussing that same energy on more achievable goals for the year ahead. Instead of planning & booking holidays, I’ll plan what I’m going to do or improve in the garden, house & allotment (even if it’s a never ending list!). I’ll set more realistic goals, such as learning how to improve my food photography, cooking some of the dishes from my cookbooks that I’ve always been meaning to make, getting creative with the blog & make it a bit more me.
Instead of days out, walking the countryside or spent by the coast, I’ll sow some seeds or plant some bulbs in the garden, giving me something to look forward to in the Spring (small wins!). I’ll spend an afternoon in the kitchen, experimenting & creating new recipes to share with you. I will not let this shit show steal away my creativity or sense of accomplishment!
That’s why, this Blue Monday, I’m bringing you cake! Not just any cake but one made from one the seasons best, most cheerful citrus fruits, grapefruit poppy seed cake. Whilst they’re available all year round, the best, juicy grapefruits peaks from Christmas through to April. How can anyone feel blue when faced with such a welcome burst of bright orange & ruby red flesh colours in the middle of a grey & dreary winter?
In this cake, I’ve sweetened their sharp, sour nature & paired them with the slight nuttiness of poppy seeds. Made using oil & yogurt, the resulting loaf has moist, soft crumb, is zesty & very pleasing. To make the most of their glorious colour, I’ve used the ruby red juice to make a sweet, pink icing & finished with some dried grapefruit slices. This one’s good on the eyes & the soul at this time of year. Don’t let January get you down, beat it with cake, tea & creativity!
GRAPEFRUIT POPPY SEED CAKE
(makes one 2lb loaf)
- 200g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
- Zest of 1 grapefruit
- 2 large eggs
- 80ml rapeseed oil
- 180ml yogurt
- Juice of 1/2 a grapefruit
For the icing:
- Juice of 1/2 a grapefruit
- 150 – 250g icing sugar
- Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder & sugar
- Next, add the zest & poppy seeds to the bowl & stir through
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients before adding in the eggs, oil, yogurt & juice
- Beat everything together until smooth & well combined
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin & bake at 180°C for 50 mins – 1 hour, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly when removed
- Leave the cake to cool in its tin for 10 minutes before removing & allowing to cool fully on a cooling rack
- Once cooled, make the icing by combining the grapefruit juice with enough icing sugar to make a pourable, not too runny icing
- Pour or drizzle the icing all over the cake & finish some dried grapefruit slices or a sprinkling of poppy seeds