Coconut Tres Leches Skillet Cake with Whipped Icing
During my sophomore year in college, I moved to Beaufort, a small town on the coast of North Carolina. I lived there for a few months before traveling for a month down the Eastern seaboard to study marine zoogeography. That semester changed my life, and I've continued to process the memories over the years. Periodically I'll share stories here on Willow Bird Baking from that time.
One of the stops on our trip south was Sapelo Island, Georgia. It's not a place most people get to go — you have to get your name on an approved list to get on the ferry over to the island. Because of our work cataloging invertebrates — work that often amounted to crawling through the ocean on all fours hunting for critters and then poring over dichotomous keys to discover their identity — we were granted passage to the University of Georgia Marine Institute on the island.
As a result, I found myself on a ferry whose wake catapulted unlucky fish into the mouths of waiting seagulls. My classmates and I eagerly watched off the sides of the boat, all but ignoring the beautiful Georgia lowlands sunset in hopes of catching a glimpse of dolphins. When we arrived on the island, we walked through a fairy tale of trees weeping with Spanish moss, which my more-Southern friends warned me not to touch. "It's full of all kinds of creepy-crawlies," they noted, careful to use the scientific terminology we were painstakingly learning. We were welcomed into Hogg Hummock, a Gullah-Geechee community that has been on the island for generations, and treated to what is still one of the best meals I've ever eaten in my life.
4-Ingredient Slow Cooker Coconut Cake
What are your favorite rituals? Life goes thick and thin in cycles, and at this point I'm old enough to recognize when it's time to hunker down through a thin space. Busyness, fatigue, grief, stress, depression — so many things can pull at us until all we can focus on is putting one foot in front of the other. When things thin out for me, I brace for the exhaustion and stock my cupboards with moments of contentedness in preparation the leanness to come.
Coconut Cream Gooey Butter Cake
A definite perk of being a teacher is that you never stop getting excited for school breaks. Spring break is usually glorious, since it ushers in the best time of the year. Everything is weaving thoughtfully and productively toward the luxurious summer.
It's usually glorious. But this past week was my spring break, and I was sick for over half of it. Like, someone's-stabbing-my-tonsils-repeatedly sort of sick.
I shouldn't complain. I had a fantastic winter break and winter breaks are notoriously awful for teachers -- right smack in the middle of the most depressing point in the school year when no one is quite sure that anything will work out, everyone has the flu, and pocketbooks and patience are stretched thin.
Thanks to Philadelphia Cream Cheese for sponsoring this post.
Coconut Cheesecake Breakfast Braid
So many holiday mornings of my childhood were spent climbing into the car with my dad to drive over to the French Bakery. I think it had an actual name other than “French Bakery,” but that’s all we ever called it. We drove down Sharon Amity Road and turned right onto Albemarle. From there it was a short trek to the little strip of shops out in front of Eastland Mall where the bakery entrance was situated under a big arch. As soon as we walked in I was transported to France.
Really, I had never been to France and didn’t know much about it. But Elliott Erwitt's iconic print, Provence 1955, hung on the wall and I knew that was quite French. Just look at the bicycle! The baguettes! The beret! And the ethereal perfume of freshly baked pastries — not just any pastries, but the ones with the dark golden sweet crunch on the outside and perfect flaky layers on the inside — was undoubtedly French! So what I mean to say is, I was transported to the France of my imagination.