Last Saturday was my first day as a vendor at a farmer’s market.
The whole thing still feels surreal. How am I allowed to sell shit at a farmer’s market? It just seems like something that would happen to someone else. Don’t I need a more specialized license for this? Well, yes, but it wasn’t difficult to get. Of course, there are all these fucking regulations about what I can and cannot sell to the public, but I’m still allowed to sell my baked goods to the general public. That blows my fucking mind. And people bought things. That is the really crazy part.
They bought things despite the fact that I am not a pastry chef, and despite the fact that I used to whisk egg whites into peaks with a fucking fork, and despite the fact that I once thought a head of cabbage was a head of lettuce. These people didn’t care that I learned how to bake without a mixer, or that I once made horrifically tart/disgusting raspberry coconut cookies, or that I used store-bought pie crust until a few years ago, or even that I still don’t have a clue how to properly decorate a cake. I can’t use fondant, I’ve never used a spring-form pan, and I don’t know how to adjust my ratios to properly use cake and pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. No one cared about any of that bullshit. All they cared about was eating a deliciously moist slice of freshly made rhubarb bread, baked with the rhubarb that’s taking over my friend’s yard, while soaking in a few hours of sunshine with their friends at an outdoor market. They don’t see the mistakes and hesitation behind the scenes – they just see perfectly round chocolate chip cookies with hand-chopped dark chocolate and flecks of glittery sea salt. They bought them all up and chatted with me about the neighborhood, making me feel connected and welcomed into this new space. T looked at me a few hours into the market, having just sold another few oatmeal crisps, my hand resting in my apron pocket and a smile across my face, and said, “You’re radiating. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy.”
There is something so indescribably satisfying about watching people eat and enjoy the things you’ve made. And then come back to buy more! I still can’t believe I’m allowed to do this after years of wandering markets wondering who you had to be to be apart of them. I love it when something seems like magic, but it’s actually real. That’s how being a market vendor feels to me.
I made this cinnamon bread during a last baking frenzy in my old apartment. My oven in that place was janky as fuck, and ran cold. This meant it was a guessing game with setting a timer for baking, or the temperature for that matter. I baked this fucker for a good hour and 20 minutes, which ended up drying it out. My current place has a very reliable oven, which is a fucking relief.
I’m pretty obsessed with quick breads at the moment. They’re so easy and simple, and can be done a million different ways. Rhubarb is the best, but you won’t be getting my recipe for that anytime soon. 😉
You’ll notice my “swirl” is just a sad line. Turns out, no one cared about that either.
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the swirl/topping:
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for coating the pans
2 tablespoons cinnamon, plus extra for coating the pans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans with butter, and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. Once the pans are fully coated, dump out excess.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another large bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Mix well before whisking in eggs one at a time.
Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Always avoid over-mixing, as it develops the gluten in the flour and can make your cake dense and chewy. It took me years to learn this. Don’t be like me.
Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Take half of the batter, and split it between both loaf pans. Add a layer of the cinnamon sugar mixture (reserving half), then top with remaining batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the cinnamon sugar mixture through the batter before topping with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edges to loosen, then turn it onto a cooling rack. Real talk, I only got a cooling rack in the last few months. Cooling on a counter top or large plate is fine, too. Don’t listen to the snobby bakers that tell you otherwise.
As with any quick bread, slice and cover with butter to serve. Gobble it all up.