Plum Almond Cake

Plum Almond Cake

Simple, Seasonal, Scrumptious

“There were three kinds, yellow, red, and green. Oh, yes, I remember.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

Not all summer fruit has the best flavor. The most beautiful peaches can be dull and mushy. I’ve had cherries that didn’t taste like much of anything at all. Plums and pluots can taste like they don’t understand that without the tang they aren’t worth the bother. Such a disappointment. The first time I made the Plum Almond Cake I had stellar plums. The plum tang was nuanced and came in a cascading rainbow of bright, bold flavors. The second time I made the recipe the plums were lackluster, boring. I’d let them get a little soft, hoping for a sweet ending since I couldn’t find that pop of flavor I crave. What a surprise, both times the cake was excellent. Baking the plums in the Plum Almond Cake changed everything. As the cake bakes the plums sink into the batter, melting into sweet, jammy pockets of summer delight. A hint of almond and lemon intrigue lingers, making for nuanced layers of taste and textures. This is definitely the cake to make with any kind of plums and pluots, yellow, red or green all will be simple, seasonal and scrumptious. READ MORE . . .

Rhubarb Almond Cake

Rhubarb Almond Cake

A Favorite Spring Cake

“Lee poured the scalding green tea. He grimaced when Adam put two spoonfuls of sugar in his cup. Adam stirred his tea and watched the sugar crystals whirl and disappear into the liquid.”

Inspiration

Dessert aficionados roughly fall into three categories, always chocolate, lemon first and the insatiable who just crave sweets. I always choose lemon first, which leaves the Mr and picky daughter mystified. They have their eyes on the chocolate. I’m convinced that rhubarb is revered by those who prefer lemon first. Rhubarb is very tangy, even sour, more intense than a well grown Granny Smith apple. With a texture reminiscent of celery rhubarb is easily ignored. I like my rhubarb matched with something sweet, but not so sweet than it overpowers the tangy fresh taste of the rhubarb. If you agree, this is a cake for you. A thick slice of the Rhubarb Almond Cake makes a fine companion for coffee or tea.

I’ve made this cake from Bon Appetit half a dozen times, finding it flexible enough to use different shapes and types of pans and varying the almond component between, blitzed blanched almonds as the original recipe suggests, or taking a short-cut and using almond flour or almond meal. The ingredients don’t need to be weighed, careful measuring will make a favorite spring cake. Taking a few minutes to pick the reddest pieces of rhubarb, measure and cut them for the top of the cake is a simple pleasure. Pushing the stalks deep into the thick batter and topping them with an avalanche of sugar delivers glistening rhubarb. The exterior of the cake is almost caramelized with pleasingly crunchy edges that contrast with the moist rhubarb that fills the interior. READ MORE . . .

Berry Basket Cake

Berry Basket Cake

With Fallen Meringue and Lemon Curd

“Adam started. He sighed deeply. Isn’t it too simple? he asked. I’m always afraid of simple things. It isn’t simple at all, sad Lee. It’s desperately complicated. But at the end there’s light.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

The first strawberries of spring have arrived. I always say I’ll wait until later in the season to buy them. They will be much sweeter then. But then I cave, and buy them anyway. I’m glad I brought home two baskets. As soon as I was home, I ate almost an entire basket standing at the sink. I was too greedy to wait. The berries were much better than I imagined. But then, my winter tastebuds are hungry for spring. READ MORE . . .

Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake

Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake

Seasonal Baking in Winter

“It ballooned in great dark rolls above, and beneath it drew a long trailing skirt of rain, and as they looked the cloud rumbled and flashed fire. Borne on the wind, the cloudburst drummed hollowly on the fat wet hills across the valley and moved out over the flat lands.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

It’s been raining, raining and raining, just what the central coast of California needs. So much rain that the drought is almost over. We had a break filled with sunshine and cold mornings but it will rain again. This is the winter we have wanted for the last three years and now that it is here we can breathe again. California will be fine. READ MORE . . .

Pumpkin Pie Inside a Chocolate Cake

Pumpkin Pie Inside a Chocolate Cake

A Spectacular Thanksgiving Dessert

“Cal turned down Alisal Street, went into the post office, and looked in the glass window of box 632. It was empty. He wandered back home and found Lee up and stuffing a very large turkey.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

You know how the election went, I want to tell you about the dessert I made that fateful day. A dessert that would make a spectacular Thanksgiving statement and keep both the pumpkin and chocolate lovers happy. I’d seen magical pie inside a cake desserts on-line before. Crazy, intoxicating, a dessert that would change any conversation. It was election day and I needed to keep busy. In need of a diversion that would calm my nerves and settle my mind, I baked. I bought a pumpkin pie at the grocery store and buried it inside a chocolate cake. I spread a thick layer chocolate ganache all over the Pumpkin Pie Inside a Chocolate Cake. I cut the cake while it was warm and some of the ganache melted. I took photos anyway. I watched an election that was messy, imperfect, with mind blowing, spectacular results. I found that a bright orange pie hiding inside a dark chocolate cake was lots of spectacular, a bit messy and imperfect too. A perfect metaphor for the election, and life really. READ MORE . . .