Almond cinnamon shortbread cake
The other day I thought I lost a scrap of paper. It was just another scrap of paper with words on it, but it was worth fifty dollars, so I felt like an idiot for misplacing it. I searched for it through piles of papers with words on them, through drawers-full of scraps of paper with words on them. This is how I organize my life. I scribble thoughts and plans and recipes and names and dates and numbers unintelligibly on torn pieces of paper, which flutter around me like maddening moths. And then I lose them and years later I find them and wonder at their meaning. As I was searching, I found one relatively intact sheet of a smallish size stuffed into my drawer. Near the bottom, in very neat (for me) handwriting, it said “Yes Today is Today.” The neatness of the handwriting suggests to me that I was trying out a new pen. I love new pens! Other than that, I have no idea what the hell I was talking about, or why I wrote this. Judging from the name & number scribbled on the top of the paper, it dates from around a decade ago. What was I happy about on this today? What had I been looking forward to? I’ll never know. But what a good inspirational meme this would make, Yes Today is Today, with some lady in yoga pants and a flowing scarf looking ecstatic as she stretches into the sunset. It’s so now-momenty. Of course I’m
not at all now-momenty. I understand the appeal and the advantages, but I just can’t do it. I live in a cluttered tangle of memories and plans, half-remembered words and half-hearted hopes. How can we live only in this moment when this moment is so fleeting? Of course we can’t, we’re made up of our past and our future is upon us before we know it. Obviously I don’t want to live in the past and anticipate the future at the expense of my appreciation of the present, but there would be no present without the past and the future. I like to think about the moment I wrote this years ago, I’m glad I don’t know what it was that made me happy, that I was looking forward to, I’m glad to imagine what it might have been. It seems more real, more full of promise than whatever actual event I was anticipating. It could have been anything. It could be anything, it might be something I’m still looking forward to. It might be nothing at all other than the recognition that today is irrevocably and undeniably today. There’s no arguing that point! And on these dark cold January mornings when it’s really goddamn hard to get out of bed, it might help to say Yes Today is Today.
Cinnamon almond shortbread
This is an incredibly simple cake, and I like it a lot. It’s like soft shortbread when you first try it, with a crispy crunchy top of almonds and sugar. And after a day or so it becomes a little firmer and more cookie-like.
Here’s Time has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
3/4 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
raw sugar for the top
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a food processor, cream the butter till light and fluffy. Add the sugar, beat again. Add the eggs and process until smooth.
Add all of the dry ingredients and process for quite a while until very smooth.
Lightly butter a cake pan. I used quite a small one–eight inches across with 2 inch high sides. You could use a wider, shallower pan, just watch the cooking time. Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the top with a small handful of sliced almonds and a few spoonfuls of raw sugar, or any “crystal sugar” that you have.
Bake for about half an hour, until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch, and the sides are pulling away from the pan. It’s quite dense, so it might not spring up if you press on it lightly.
Let cool and then remove from the pan.