I was smiling the whole time while photographing this cake. The sunlight in the background, the cute and colourful bravado, the cake I just finish making - everything about it made me happy. Every happy thought and emotions I felt, I dedicated it to Japan. You would have heard by now about what’s happened in Japan. My heart bleeds every time I watch the news. I was looking for a way to send a foods & goods parcel to the families I met in Akita and Yamagata but I was told that the postal systems were down due to poor road access and petrol shortages.
So someone special advised me to do the next best thing — pray for those who are in need and send them happy thoughts. Our good thoughts, prayers, words have powerful ways of helping people. This concept is not a strange one to me, and in fact, I believe very much in it. It may sound random, but I know it works.
Some years back, during a group meditation, the leader of the group told us to direct happy thoughts to a person; a friend, family, someone we knew who could do with some loving. I chose to focus on C., a good friend of mine, who so happened at the time was working in Japan. I noted the time to be somewhere between 9.30p.m. and 10p.m. I was curious, would C. be able to feel anything?
I couldn’t wait to get home and chat with C. via the Internet. I did find her and I asked, without telling her about the meditation, if she felt or thought anything different that day. C. replied out-of-the-blue, on her way home from work, she started thinking about me. I recounted my experience to her and when we compared time, it was within the same window. There are other instances when I focussed on sending happy thoughts to someone, more often than not, the person had also been thinking about me. Believe it or not, what we are thinking right now affects people, near or far.
In one of my recent posts about my travels Kyoto, I’d mentioned about blogger Chika from She Who Eats and her effort to raise funds for Japan. She has generously tied it in with a sakura (cherry blossoms) ingredient giftaway. Kudos to her and many other bloggers on blogosphere for doing whatever they can to help.
Here’s a list of blogs you can go to to contribute. Every bit counts and no efforts are too small:
I love what Chika said towards the end of her post:
“There is this old saying in Japanese, “winter always turns to spring”.
Even when the life is hard, we will not give up hope and hold out until it gets warm and things ease up. That’s exactly where we stand now, except we must make every efforts to make winter turn to spring.”
- 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- ¾ cup sunflower oil
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2-3 large carrots, grated (I used about 4 small carrots)
- ½ tbsp lemon zest
- ½ cup sultanas
- Cream Cheese Filling
- 3 packs cream cheese (600g), warmed to room temperature
- 1 ½ cup icing sugar
- 1 cup of walnuts, chopped finely
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Spray a 9 x 12 inch baking pan (that comes up at least 1-inch on the sides) with nonstick cooking spray, line the pan with baking parchment, and spray one more time over the parchment. Set aside.
- Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
- Whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs together in a large bowl by hand or with an electric mixer.
- Add the flour mixture and continue whisking till the flour is combined into the mixture.
- Using a spatula, stir in the grated carrots, sultanas and lemon zest. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean and just slightly moist.
- Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
To Assemble, place a cutting board on top of your cake pan and, gripping the board and pan together securely, invert the carrot cake onto the cutting board and peel off the parchment. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake lengthwise in half. Slice each half into 3 thin layers to get 6 layers in total.
Using a flat spatula, spread about ½ cup of the cream cheese filling over the layer. Alternate the cake layers. Press down lightly on each cake layer as it is added so the cake will be compact. Spread the remaining cream cheese on top of cake and sides. Take chopped walnuts and slowly transfer to the four sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours.