Almond cakes, such as financiers (which are technically tiny cakes, but I made a big one), are a tradition in my family.  Our familial almond cake is denser than the above cake, with larger almond chunks, and less sweetness.  It’s baked for birthdays and has a hint of icing on it.  Growing up, I requested pies and cheesecakes as my birthday cakes – I had something against the austerity of our cake.  But now, with my more refined palate, I have grown to love almond cakes in any form.  And this cake competes with our familial cake as my favorite cake for celebrations.

I’ve made this cake before.  In fact, I’ve chronicled making it before on this blog, when I tried to make a gluten free version of it.  It didn’t work.

This time, I accepted the gluten (I love gluten) and also added two new elements to the cake.  The first was a hint of rosewater, added at the end, to round out the flavors in the cake.  The second was some blackberries, added to the cake just before it baked.  The result?  One of the best cakes I’ve made in recent years.

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Ah and so it begins.  The cold is descending upon us, smothering our dreams of spaghetti straps and tan lines with parkas and functional scarves.  Many are fearful this means the end of our fun for the year.  From now on, we must stay inside, forever apart and wrapped in blankets.


Persephone, wondering if she can leave her cat fort when the temperature dips below 70

I, being from New England, strongly disagree with this sentiment.  I am excited to welcome in fall in the next few weeks and then winter in the coming months.  I am a winter baby and I intend to enjoy the heck out of tights, woolen sweaters, and wintery baked goods.

So, to welcome to new season and to prepare myself for the onslaught of baking that will soon be upon me, I made an apple spiced cake.  It was vaguely reminiscent of the apple cakes my grandmother always used to have freshly made, but with a lot more bourbon.  Although it does remind me to get Gummy’s apple cake recipe from her in short order…

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All photos taken by Zoe Bell, my sister, not the famed stunt woman.

Ahh the holidays.  A time for me to be a complete and total scrooge and say humbug quite frequently.  I also get to bake a lot which is nice but stressful.

My mother and I stayed up until past midnight one night baking cookies.  The next day I spent 40 minutes over a hot stove, grilling brussel sprouts to perfection.

But the pièce de résistance came on new years eve, when I decided to make two fancy, multilayered cakes.  One was a coconut layer cake (my favorite and almost no one else’s), while the other was a white chocolate cake with a lemon curd filling and a grand marnier buttercream.

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I am an introvert.  I enjoy being an introvert.  I like to sit next to my cat and write about food.  I also like to sit next to my cat and read books.  Or watch Arrested Development.  Anything really, as long as its just me and my cat.


He’s into the sound of silence.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean I don’t like people.  I love them and I have a small number of close friends that I cherish more than anything in the world besides Jethro.  I’m quite happy to spend almost all of my time with them, because being with them, I don’t need to entertain.  I can sit silently or be aggressively chatty or eat more cheese than any of them and it doesn’t matter.

But people I don’t know?  That’s another story.

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Last Friday, my friend Emily turned 22.  Emily is my poet friend.  Literally.  She likes to spend evenings with a glass of wine, writing poems.  We met because we were both interested in The Pop Culture of Early Modern Europe, one of my favorite class topics at Hopkins.  I like witchcraft and charivari and carnivals and all those fun things.  Also my favorite childhood story was called Cat’s Carnival.  Go figure.

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P1020274This week is the last week of classes.  Its a mad rush to get everything finished in the one week where every teacher assigns something to be due.  We’ve got tests, papers, presentations, what have you.  But as a senior, you know what?  Its okay.  And by its okay, I mean I’ve watched a lot of netflix recently and am none to bothered about all of my papers and tests.  Sorry parents.

This weekend, therefore, I did little in the way of work.  And Friday I made cupcakes.

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My weekend failed cat.

This weekend was a failure.  Utter and total disappointment on all food fronts.  Although someone did buy me a drink at a bar that was not an alcoholic slushy.  That was probably the highlight.

Lets start with Thursday shall we?  Because we all know that the weekend truly starts then.

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We call my grandmother Gummy.  Madame Gumball, if you are my father and are feeling contrite.  Gummy is derived from my sisters’ inability to pronounce grandmother as children.  Or grandma.  Or anything really.  They are thus credited with the creation of the masterful name “Gummy”.

If our family has a matriarch, its most definitely Gummy.  We all adore her but are frightened of her “jokes” about how when she gets a cane, she will hit her grandchildren with it to keep us in line.  She is probably kidding.  We don’t know.

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A member of our family, the only Irishman we’ve got (who would like to be known as Pinocchio here, because he just wants to be a real boy who eats real gluten food), recently learned that he has Celiacs disease.  He is distressed, understandably, because he thinks this means he will never eat real bread or cake again.  (Its mainly the cake that makes him sad.)



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