Winter Sugar to Share: Day&Night Traybake

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” Sinclair Lewis

During the cold, grey winter months, people get less sunlight, less air, and many experience a mild form of seasonal depression. People suffering from any type of sadness or illness tend to crave sugary foods, to help deal with these winter darkness periods. People want and, therefore eat more sugar, because  quick effect of the carbohydrate-rich foods: they cause blood sugar levels to spike, which raises blood insulin levels. When this happens, amino acids (tryptophan) travel up to our brains, where it is converted to serotonin — a happiness hormone that makes us feel happy. This is the simple explanation why consuming cakes, sweet bakes or ice cream makes us feel so happy. Desserts contain plenty of added sugar, and on the top of that milk (that is a basic ingredient of almost all sweet bakes) is a natural source of tryptophan. Together, these properties lead to a good release of serotonin to relieve stress and spread a deep feeling of joy. Having winter meals that are rich in carbohydrate and sugar was a result of the traditional observations of the wise people in old times, a form of self-medication that regulated people’s mental condition, made them feel genuinely good. Too much sugar intake, of course, can lead to health problems, but there’s also no reason to believe people must eliminate all sweetness from their diet. Common sense informs people to consume sweet foods in moderation. However, whatever type of sugar we choose to use in the winter and holiday season, by all means we need to use it with love and savor each glorious baked bite with friends and family. Research shows that when we eat our meals mindfully and with others, we eat better than when we eat alone…So here is a cake to share…

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” Edith Sitwell

Ingredients
Sponge base
6 eggs
6 tbsp sugar
50 g butter
40 g cocoa powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp instant coffee
110 g flour
2 tbsp apricot jam
For the meringue layer
4 egg white
220 g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
A pinch of salt
For the chocolate glaze
30 g coca powder
3 tbsp water, boiling hot
50 g icing sugar
A splash of oil

Method
Cream the eggs with the sugar and the honey, until light and foamy. Add the butter, the flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee and baking powder and beat it only until a smooth mixture is achieved. Bake in pre-heated 180 degrees C oven, using a lined, 20×30 square tin. It will need about 20 minutes. Then, whilst the cake is still hot, layer the apricot jam on top and let it cool completely.
Whip the eggwhites with the salt, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl above boiling water and spread on the top of the cake.
Finally mix the cocoa powder with boiling hot water and oil and cover the meringue layer on the top of the cake.

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.” George R.R. Martin

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