the almond and rhubarb cake that wasn't

rhubarb via

Hello, friends!

I do not have a new recipe for you today. I spent a lot of time this week testing, tweaking and re-baking what I thought was going to be the world’s most amazing flourless almond and olive oil cake with rhubarb compote. I thought this one was going to be a #gamechanger. Ahem.

I had my last version of the cake in the oven. I’d already shot the ingredients and prep. I had a yogurt glaze waiting in the wings. I took the cake out of the oven, waited patiently for it to cool and cut myself a slice. 

It was horrible.

rhubarb via

Heavy as a brick. Dry on the outside with a sort of wet swamp of fruit in the middle. The intensely red rhubarb had turned rather brown during the long bake time necessary to cook the cake all the way through. This was by far the worst of the three versions of the cake I’d made this week. My first impulse was to throw it on the floor in frustration. My second was to cry. I’ve been having a rather crap week and this felt like the icing on the metaphorical cake. 

I did not smash my cake on the kitchen floor. I instead slid it into the compost, to be forgotten if not forevermore, at least for the time being. There were some tears though, later in the evening when I picked a fight with Beau about nothing at all. (Does anyone else do this? It’s the worst. But sometimes I can’t seem to help myself. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who loves me despite my foibles and tendency to sometimes instigate arguments when I’m overtired or down.)


After the cake disaster, I briefly thought about heading out to the grocery store for another round of ingredients, then staying up late to test another version, then getting up early to shoot it. But it only took me about two seconds to realize that was not one of my better ideas. The truth is, it kind of felt good to fail and to be ok with it. It feels good to tell you about my cake failure here. In this age of highly curated social media accounts and gorgeous food blogs with über-professional-looking photography and design, it feels nice to let you know that most of the time I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and that even after over 20 years of working in restaurants and avid home cooking, I still sometimes bomb out in the kitchen.

So there you have it. I now wish I’d taken a picture of my horrible little cake for you to see how truly bad it was. You’ll have to take my word for it.

In the meantime, I want to leave you with a recipe or two for the weekend in case you’ve got the itch to bake. For those of you new to the blog, here’s a tried-and-true recipe for an orange-hazelnut bundt cake with rum glaze. It’s one of my favorites.

For those of you in the mood for rhubarb, I thought these raspberry and rhubarb meringues with pistachio crumble looked delicious. I haven’t tried them yet, but intend to give them a go this spring. I have a list of tips for foolproof meringue in this post should you need a few pointers.

Happy Sunday and XO!


P.S. There are a few spots left in some of the classes I’m teaching at Book Larder this month. I’m especially excited about the French class I’m teaching next week and the homemade tacos class I’m teaching the week before Cinco de Mayo. If you’re in Seattle, sign up and come cook with me! There won’t be any crappy cakes--I promise. :)