Walter’s Almond Butter Cake
We bought the slivered almonds for this recipe about a week ago, because that was when my mom and I were originally going to bake this cake. As though buying the ingredients will make the event happen, I have to admit that getting slivered almonds as soon as possible speaks to my desire to spend time with my mom. I’m moving out in a couple of weeks from my parent’s place, and I think the relationship between us has been like trying to collect sand passing through spread fingers – trying desperately to hang on to what’s bound to slip away. In one sense, I have been looking forward to this event for a pretty long time. I enjoy being on my own, determining the pace of my day, week, routine, and allowing spontaneity. Plus I am absolutely eager to get to know my new neighbourhood in the springtime, where I can run through High Park on the west side of the road, or peruse the trendy Roncesvalles on an eastbound walk and enjoy a new setting.
But I didn’t want my parents to feel abandoned by their oldest daughter. I’m sure that’s a lot of psychology written about eldest child behaviour and their attitude towards their siblings – being protective, being cautious, even instructive. But the funny thing is the sense of loyalty that I have towards my parents, for all they’ve done for our family, and me. They’ve definitely given me their blessing for my apartment, and I’m glad that they are not sitting heavy on an empty nest – in fact, they’re already making plans for a second trip this year! Maybe it’s my turn to let them go.
One of my fondest memories with my mom is baking with her. After school, my sister and I may come home to something baking in its last moments – a cranberry pistachio loaf, banana bread, or berry muffins. The best thing was a Saturday morning when we made pancakes in our pajamas. “Add the flour, but only a little at at time,” she’d tell me, holding out the broad spoon with pink Chinese designs on the inside. We always used Chinese spoons in our baking – they usually have a wider mouth, so gets the job done faster. That sound of the spoon going through the dense mixture, blending wet with dry until all the specks of flour dissolved. There’s a sort of serenity about this muted mixing sound, when my mother folds the flour.
This is the image I found myself in when we baked Walter’s almond butter cake. I had creamed the sugar, and she had prepared the flour mixture, and now she was standing on a stool so that my 5″2 mom could get a better grip on the Chinese spoon folding the flour into the wet mixture. And ten years later, that same sound of the spoon going through the batter comforts me.
Now about the cake recipe – who’s Walter? Walter is a good family friend. In fact, I can’t imagine a time when he and his wife were not close friends with my parents. A chemist by trade, Walter decided to take baking to the next level a few years ago and developed his own recipes. Last summer, I worked with him to photograph each of his cakes and utensils. And I’m happy to announce that his second book called “A Chemist’s Secret to Cake Baking” – self published too, mind you! – is now available on Amazon. This almond butter cake is so soft on the inside. If you’ve ever thought loaf cakes are pans full of tough or dry cake, his recipe just might redeem all of that.