baking · self care

Scandinavian Almond Cake

Recipe from This Blonde Life

I’m not a particularly accomplished baker. My bread is usually dry in the center and my cakes tend to fall. I’m not patient enough when softening butter or confident enough to mix my muffins only until “just blended”. The thought of making pie crust raises my blood pressure.

In times of personal stress, therefore, I stay out of the kitchen. I write, I quilt, I stitch, I do not mess with yeast.

But in times when the world feels dark and scary, I bake.

Ingredients - Anna Tried It
When baking, deal with the butter first. Whether it needs to be softened or melted, take care of that before you begin the mixture. Melted butter should not be hot when it is added to the batter.

You see, my mother is an accomplished home baker. We had cinnamon rolls on Christmas mornings and challah at Easter and I don’t think I tasted store bought bread until I was a teenager. Fridays were baking day, and I would walk in the door after school to the fragrance of homemade bread and chocolate chip cookies.

Baking, to me, represents the safety of a loving mother. It was part of all that made my childhood feel warm and secure.

Scandinavian Almond Cake - Anna Tried It
True to form, something went awry – my batter is way more dense than the image from This Blonde Life’s post. But I am sure that I followed her recipe to the letter.

I’ve often been accused of being a bleeding heart, but today, as my newsfeed continued to fill with wrenching scenes of torn-apart families, I felt like my heart was beyond bleeding. Broken. I’d called my representatives. I’d donated. I’d raised my voice. And now, I needed to fill the house with the smell of butter and almond extract.

It seemed most appropriate to make this quesadilla Salvadoreña or this tres leches cake, but I knew the friend with which I was planning to share the cake is lactose intolerant, so I went instead with something that seemed simple and fresh and good.

Scandinavian Almond Cake - Anna Tried It
The dense batter made a dense cake that did not rise at all, but as far as I can tell, that’s what this cake is supposed to be like.

Today is the day when Midsummer is observed across Europe. The day with the most light. We need light. We need simple and fresh and good. We need childhoods filled with safety and warmth and security and the smell of fresh bread and warm cake.

All children deserve that. And all good parents would go through hell to give that to their children.

Scandinavian Almond Cake - Anna Tried It
This pound-style cake is lovely with the almond extract and would work well with any flavoring – orange, lemon, rose… I added a splash of vanilla, and next time I’ll add a pinch of salt to help bring out depth in the flavor.

This isn’t a political blog, but some things transcend politics. It may seem silly or pointless to indulge ourselves, in dark days, with things like crafts or clothes or cake. It’s not. We don’t need quilts to keep warm when any plain blanket will do. We don’t need chocolate chip cookies to live when any plain meal will do. We don’t need beauty to survive.

But we need beauty to live. Even now. Especially now. The things we tend to dismiss as extraneous, this is what brings light into the world. The warmth of a mother’s kitchen, filled with the smell of fresh bread.

Scandinavian Almond Cake - Anna Tried It
The best way to eat pound cake is with my mom’s chocolate sauce. But that’s for a future post!

Take care of yourselves. Do whatever your version is of baking a cake. And then let’s all go out and fill the world with light.

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4 thoughts on “Scandinavian Almond Cake

  1. Love that you added shaved almonds on top! I will have to try that. After making this several times (and the cake coming out differently each time), I’ve found three things that seem to help:
    1. Letting the egg sit out until it’s room temp (or soaking it in a bowl of luke-warm water or a few mins)
    2. Using whole milk
    3. Making sure your oven rack is in the very center of the oven.
    I’ll be sure to add the notes to my post. Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

    Like

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