Clementine almond pastry cake
Sometimes when we have trouble making a decision we’ll ask Malcolm for help. Usually it’s a small thing–choosing between two paint colors, say, or whether or not I should add olives to a stew. He’s very decisive, but he’s thoughtful, too–he thinks quickly. And when he gives an answer it always seems to have been the obvious answer all along. It sounds silly, but I’ve been wracked with indecision lately on the subject of a story I’m writing. It was going along in the usual halting, stumbling way of most of my stories, when I noticed that it kept getting longer and longer. The characters were in my thoughts all day and night, and they were becoming more complicated, and all of these ideas
about what things could be about
started haunting me. I know you’re supposed to write something until it’s as long as it needs to be, but at some point you have to decide what you’re doing, you have to know where you’re going and have some idea how to get there. So I asked Malcolm. I was mostly joking, but I said, “Hey, Malcolm, should I write a short story or a novel?” I was thinking he’d just laugh it off, because it’s a ridiculous question. But he said, “Well, tell me about it, tell me about some of the characters, what’s it about?” This kills
me! It’s so smart and sweet. And Malcolm had an idea for a story, too, which I’m going to help him write by asking him questions, so we were just like two writers, together, just a couple of story-writing friends, discussing our work. And I’ve decided to think like Malcolm, when I’m choosing if the story goes this way or that way…I’ll think quickly, and make it seem like it was inevitable all along. He chose novel, by the way, so we’ll see how that goes!
Clementine almond pastry cake
It’s a pastry cake! I’m very excited about this…I feel like I’ve invented a genre of sweet food. I first encountered the phrase “Pastry Cake” in one of my favorite books, Joan Aiken’s Go Saddle the Sea. I couldn’t find an actual pastry cake any where, so I decided it should be a thick dense cake, almost like a soft shortbread. The first one I made had a salted top
. This one has clementine zest in the batter, plus almonds and a pinch of allspice and a drop of sherry. It’s stuffed with milk chocolate chips, and topped with sugar crystals, which gives it a nice sort of crispiness. Very festive, very tasty!
Here’s The Choice is Yours by Black Sheep
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter (3/4 cup)
1 cup icing sugar
1 t vanilla
1 T sherry
zest of two clementines
1 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup milk
raw sugar or sugar crystals
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate this time)
Butter and flour a large cake pan and preheat the oven to 350. In a food processor, combine the butter and icing sugar. Process until fairly smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, sherry and clementine zest and process again until smooth.
Add the almonds, flour, baking powder, allspice, salt and process again. Add the milk and process again. You should have a thick, smooth batter.
Spread half of the batter evenly in the cake pan. Pour the chocolate chips in the middle, leaving a border of about 1 inch.
Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls over the chocolate chips, and then combine them using a knife or the back of a spoon. Smooth the top over and scatter it with coarse sugar crystals.
Bake for about 25 minutes, till puffed, golden and firm to the touch.