Almond-raspberry cake and the mulberry geese

I walked along, thinking about how I hate hateful people (because I’m self-aware like that) and gathering evidence of hatefulness-for-no reason, in my busy brain. And then, in these thoughts almost myself and all of humanity despising, happly I happened upon **the one thing we’ve all been waiting for, for more than a year.** It’s the mulberry geese: of course it is. Along the towpath there grows a mulberry tree, which somehow stretches through a stone wall to spread its beautiful, mossy, glowing green branches across the canal, almost to the towpath. It creates a beautiful green world, with light from the water casting rippling gold on mossy branches. And when the berries ripen and fall, the geese and ducks gather below and race each other to catch every plump berry that plops into the water. THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW!

Last year when I was feeling a little down, for all the reasons everyone was feeling down last year plus a few more, I passed the mulberry tree, with its canopy of beautiful leaves and its battalion of hungry waterfowl. I felt, for the first time in a long time, a kind of love for a moment or a place or an inanimate object that actually elevates your spirits. I felt it irrationally and physically in that part of me that people once foolishly described as their heart. I can’t quite explain the reason I love this mulberry tree so much. It is an undeniably pretty part of my favorite place in the world. (my towpath). Isaac says I use the word “love” too much, and I know I do. I know I’m soft in the head and the heart. But I do genuinely love the geese, the ducks, the tree, the berries, the moving light, the water, the time of year, the mossy wall.

Years ago I wrote a children’s story about the mulberry ducks (and illustrated it a bit too!) and there’s something about spring that makes you want to wake up and create things again. The mulberry tree evokes the happiness of writing that story. In the story the young ducks are waiting for the berries to fall until some clever crows show them how to hop on branches and knock the berries off. They get so full they feel ill, and decide to go back to swimming in the cool water, waiting for the berries to fall on their own. On the one hand it could be seen as a condemnation of ingenuity and ambition, which is probably not the best message for children. But I prefer to see it as a mediation on knowing the value of having enough. Of having the patience to allow things to happen in their own time, at their own pace.

But mostly I love the beautiful hopeful gesture of the geese and ducks, waiting for the fruit to drop in a beautiful place on a beautiful day. They look up at you with their sweet faces if you throw the mulberries from the path to them, and they swim in a pretty flurry if you shake the branches so the berries fall. I am currently between jobs and entirely without a career, but I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than swimming beneath the spreading green world of the mulberry tree, waiting for the berries to fall.

I made this cake for our 25th wedding anniversary. It’s like a miniature version of a wedding cake. Very simple, very easy, very pleasing in every way. I made the whole thing in a food processor, which meant that it went quickly and produced a very very smooth, fine-crumbed cake. And you can’t beat raspberry and almond for good flavors. It’s quite a small cake. You might think you won’t be able to slice it across in half, but it does work. It’s almost like a very large soft cookie. It’s good with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, or red wine after dinner.

Here’s Al Green with Here I Am. It’s been in my head for over a week, but I don’t mind, cause it’s so good.

Recipe after the jump.

1 stick butter (8 T), softened

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 t. Vanilla

2 t Almond extract

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup milk

1/3 – ½ cup raspberry jam

2 T very soft butter

1 cup (++) icing sugar

1 t almond extract

1 t vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 or 2 Tablespoons (+/-) milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a cake pan.

Put the butter in a food processor and process until creamy.  Add the sugar and extracts and process again. Add the  eggs, process until smooth. Add all the dry ingredients, process again till smooth. Add the milk. Process AGAIN TILL SMOOTH!

Spread in cake pan. Bake till firm to the touch, lightly brown, and pulling away from the sides. 20 – 25 minutes. De-pan and let cool.

Using a bread knife or other long knife, cut the cake crosswise through the middle. You’ll have two quite thin halves. Spread raspberry jam on the bottom to the thickness you like, pop the top half of the cake back on.

To make the icing, put the butter in a medium-sized bowl and using an electric mixer, whip till soft and creamy. Add everything else and process till very smooth and just as thick as you would like. You can add more or less milk, but be careful cause  a little goes a long way.

Spread on cake, slice, and eat!

1 stick butter (8 T), softened

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 t. Vanilla

2 t Almond extract

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup milk

1/3 – ½ cup raspberry jam

2 T very soft butter

1 cup (++) icing sugar

1 t almond extract

1 t vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 or 2 Tablespoons (+/-) milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a cake pan.

Put the butter in a food processor and process until creamy.  Add the sugar and extracts and process again. Add the  eggs, process until smooth. Add all the dry ingredients, process again till smooth. Add the milk. Process AGAIN TILL SMOOTH!

Spread in cake pan. Bake till firm to the touch, lightly brown, and pulling away from the sides. 20 – 25 minutes. De-pan and let cool.

Using a bread knife or other long knife, cut the cake crosswise through the middle. You’ll have two quite thin halves. Spread raspberry jam on the bottom to the thickness you like, pop the top half of the cake back on.

To make the icing, put the butter in a medium-sized bowl and using an electric mixer, whip till soft and creamy. Add everything else and process till very smooth and just as thick as you would like. You can add more or less milk, but be careful cause  a little goes a long way.

Spread on cake, slice, and eat!

2 thoughts on “Almond-raspberry cake and the mulberry geese

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