Chocolate Tofu Friendship Cake
“A problem shared is a problem halved”
I find staying at home hard. I’ll admit it. All my life adult life, I’ve either worked or studied – there’s been very little down time. Even when I went to Japan on a scholarship, I was busy taking classes at Uni, going from school to school doing classroom observations or teaching English on the side to supplement our meagre income.
Sadly, the one time when I did have down time came with a number of other life changes: marriage breakdown, moving to a new state, strained relationship with my parents, starting a new relationship, and unemployment. I thought I was doing fine. But one day, around 3 months after I’d moved to Melbourne, I woke up and I started to cry. I felt like I couldn’t stop. I just sat on the sofa and I cried and cried and cried. So I got busy and went out from a long walk. I came home and baked some carob-apple muffins. But the whole time I felt like I wanted to cry. Darin came home and I pulled it together, and then when he went to bed, I sat on the sofa and started to cry again. I thought I was going mad.
So many things were right in my life. I’d found my soulmate who I loved intensely and deeply, and he loved me right back. I’d lost a heap of weight and was super thin – so I felt so great about my body (enter eating disorder thinking here – not healthy body thinking!!). I was running and felt fit and healthy. I’d moved to an exciting, new city with great opportunities. But I’d hit a wall and I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t get up. And I felt like I was breaking up inside. I wrote a poem back then to try to explain how I felt, and I now realise as a form of catharsis:I am a glass vase. Not crystal, just glass. You can see right through me What comes in, and how it pours out. I once held flowers. Everyone thought they were so beautiful. “How wonderful. How lovely”, they would say. I was their keeper. I fed them. I held them. I let them die. Now my glass has cracks. Some are small and superficial. Maybe they’ve always been there. But others are growing Larger and longer each day. I can hold nothing. Everything seeps away from me. Should the cracks grow and join I will break. I will not be a vase. I will be a broken glass jar. Useful for nothing And dangerous in the shards I splinter. Who will stop the cracks? Who will seal the faults? I cannot. I feel them grow More and more each day. And I cry. Because soon, unless help comes, I will just be broken pieces of glass. Lying discarded, Apart from the beauty I once knew. 9th March, 1999.
My crying went on for around a week. I thought I was going mad and it scared me. I couldn’t seen an end to it and I could feel myself, like Alice down the rabbit hole, falling deeper and deeper into the darkness. I didn’t know what else to do, so I made an appointment to see a doctor. I remember sitting in the waiting room saying to myself, “I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry!” Of course, as soon as I sat in front of the doctor and she asked me, “so how are you?” I burst into tears. I spilled out my entire story and she listened quietly. I remember an incredible feeling of relief after I’d unloaded onto her, and a sense of the darkness dulling, like dawn breaking though the night. I realised the truth in that old adage, “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
The doctor was a wise, young lady, and she said that she felt I had adjustment depression. She could see that everything I’d gone through over the past 6 months, had resulted in some incredibly big life changes. Now that those changes had eventuated, I was experiencing a level of adjustment and grief at the loss of past held beliefs, support structures, and familiarity. So many new changes and upheavals in my life had all lead to this current state of depression. She felt that it was a passing state, and if I kept doing all the positive things I was doing, that I’d be fine. She did make follow-up appointments for me with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, but to be honest, I found them unhelpful. The first one asked my why I was there because I obviously wasn’t psychotic! The second one was incredibly judgemental and just wanted to find a problem in me she could fix and medicate.
The darkness continued to lift after seeing this young doctor. It was a very short-lived depression, and I feel very fortunate and thankful for this. I also feel very grateful for two other things. One is that I know how consuming, driving, and draining the darkness of depression feels. It is a horrible feeling and a horrible experience, and it’s not something that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. It is such a relief when it starts to break up and lift away from you.
The second one, is that I was able to push through the darkness, by creating structure and activity in my life and by finding people to talk to and share the load with. I have noticed that if you’re used to the structure of work or of a specific focus, such as study, then an open-ended day to do whatever you like isn’t always a fun thing. It can be daunting, scarey and ultimately demotivating. To help stave off the clouds of gloom, I found setting routines in place really vital. Even when I was unemployed, I’d get up and get ready for the day before 9am. I’d get out the house and go somewhere for coffee or wander round the shops, so that I was with other people. I didn’t know anyone when I first moved to Melbourne and I was unemployed, that in itself is a very isolating experience. The doctor suggested that I engage in activities that I’d done previously that made me feel relaxed and connect with my inner self. I played the piano and previously, I had played the piano in a church. So I found a local church and asked if I could use their piano to bang out a few tunes, when services weren’t on. Doing this was great and was another factor that helped to ground me. The minister of that church, Wally, was one of the loveliest and kindest, non-judgemental Christians I’ve ever met. Anyway, that’s another story!
So now to my current situation. Yep, with this new adjustment – the shop closing and my business taking a new direction, the darkness inevitably descended. The kids had gone back to school and Darin back to work and I slumped. But it didn’t last long – 24 hours at most. I kept busy: I baked, I worked in the garden, I went for walks. I recognised the darkness for what it was: a grief, an adjustment, the unfamilar and the unstructured day. Friends and contacts are so necessary in this process of readjustment. I can see the benefits of social media like Instagram and SnapChat through which you can catalogue and diarise your day. IG can provide a focus for the day, as you determine to make something, photograph it and post it. All this takes time and you have a sense of accomplishment from it. Plus you get feedback from your IG community and friends. The communication I have with people on IG is enormously important to me. Despite the limitations and somewhat static, fragmented nature of the medium, so many of the people I’ve met have come to mean so much to me. They check in on me and I check in on them. (Mel, if you’re reading this – I miss you and I hope you’re doing well and are happy. J xxx).
So to end this long post – I offer you this Chocolate Tofu Cake. It’s a friendship cake. A cake for socialising. A cake for sharing over a cuppa. A conversation cake that will spur enquiry concerning its quirky ingredients. It’s a problem shared a problem halved cake. It is a cake for keeping the dark clouds away.
I hope you enjoy it.
Chocolate Tofu Friendship Cake
400g flour mix – I used:
- 150g buckwheat flour
- 40g chickpea flour
- 10g coconut flour
- 50g tapioca starch
- 50g rice flour
- 100g hazelnut meal (or any other nut/seed meal you’d like to use)
3tsp baking powder
½ tsp bi-carb
100g choc chopped finely
60ml espresso coffee
300g silken tofu
300g maple syrup (use less or more to suit your taste. Just make up the liquid with the mylk or oil)
150g mylk of choice or H2O.
300g silken tofu
150g walnut meal – or nut/seed meal of choice (freshly roasted and blitzed into a fine meal – I did this in my Vitamix)
8 to 10 tsp maple syrup
4 Tbsp sugar of choice (optional)
cocoa to taste and thicken the mix (around 1/4 cup)
- Prepare your tin/tins – line with greaseproof paper and turn on your oven to 175oC. I like to use two tins and divide the mix between to two tins – the cake cook more evenly and quickly.
- Sift and mix all the dry ingredients together.
- Mix all liquid together.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to combine. You mix will thicken upon sitting for a couple of minutes. If it seems overly thick – loosen with a little more mylk.
- Pour into your baking tin or tins and put into the oven. Set the timer for 30mins (cooking time will depend on the size of your cakes – small muffins will take around 20 – 25mins. Larger cakes take between 40 – 45mins.
- While the cakes are baking make your tofu cream.
- Mix 150g silken tofu with maple syrup and around 90g walnut meal and pinch of salt. Add more sugar if you want your “cream” sweeter. Blitz to smooth. Pour into a bowl and put into the fridge to set.
- Mix the remaining 150g silken tofu into a food processor, add remaining walnut meal, maple syrup, sugar (optional), and salt. Blitz to smooth and put into the fridge to set.
- Allow the cakes to cool and then fill with Walnut-Tofu cream. Put into fridge to set. Cover the rest of the cake with the chocolate-walnut-tofu cream.