So, a whole week since I finished revising MOUNTAIN. So naturally I got bored. Even though I was reading some really good books. Maybe there was some guilt in there too, the kind of not-working-just-reading-is-this-allowed kind of guilt that is (I suppose) just an intrinsic component of life. But mainly I was bored.
Plus, I needed to try actually working on my new laptop.
Which only lets me play music one artist at a time rather than selecting (say) all the instrumental and letting me randomize a couple hundred songs in one playlist. Which I hate hate hate not being able to do. I suppose it will be possible to find a different music program. Anyway!
Picked up an old project. Not very old, actually. A year or two? It’s fifty-plus pages of an adult secondary world fantasy based around an Ottoman-ish society. See, I realized that it would be better if I took some of the recent backstory and turned it into story! It’ll start faster! It’ll pull the reader in better! It’ll encourage the reader to immediately become involved with the main character! Who is this really neat character because she . . . well, never mind, that would be a bit of a spoiler.
So, rewriting the beginning of the story. Figure that’ll take the rest of the week or thereabouts, after which, I don’t know. I might continue and write another chapter or two of this book, or I might bang the beginning into shape and then put it aside again and go on to something else. We’ll see.
Oh, but maybe I’ll post the opening scene, though. I don’t think any eventual editor would care, do you?
Now, the cake!
I made this last week for someone who doesn’t eat chocolate (I know, right?) and WHOA did people rave. I got comments ranging from “wonderful!” and “so light” to “best cake I ever ate in my life!” so I thought I would toss the recipe out here and let other people try it if they like. It’s no harder than making any other layer cake, but it is a little different because the butter you would usually use is replaced by cream.
Apricot Almond Cream Cake
3 eggs, room temp (you can submerge them in hot water for ten minutes to bring them to room temp, and it’s worth doing if you want a really light cake.)
1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C cake flour — the recipe didn’t specify, but it matters.
1 C ground almonds — not all the way ground into flour, but coarsely ground.
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C heavy cream, whipped
8 oz cream cheese
1 C sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond extract (the recipe says 1 tsp and everybody loved it, but I’d reduce the almond extract if I did it again)
1 1/2 C heavy cream, whipped
10 oz jar apricot preserves, warmed
1/2 C. slivered almonds, toasted (you can toast the almonds while the oven is hot from baking the cake; about four minutes and then shake the baking pan, then about two more minutes and pour the golden almond slivers into a bowl to cool).
Make the cake: beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until “thick and lemon colored”, which was about 3 minutes, maybe a little less. Combine the dry ingredients. Whip the cream (you know it’ll whip better if you use a chilled glass bowl and chilled beaters, right?) (PLEASE DO NOT USE WHIPPED TOPPING, or if you do, don’t complain to me if people don’t like your cake as much as they loved mine.)
Beat the dry ingredients into the cake batter alternately with the whipped cream; three additions of the flour mixture and two additions of cream.
Pour into two 9-inch cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a very few moist crumbs sticking to it. Cool ten minutes and turn the cakes out onto racks. (If you line the cake pans with circles of parchment paper and grease the paper, the cakes will definitely turn out every time.) Go write a book or play with the puppies while the cake layers cool completely.
Make the frosting: soften the cream cheese (I do this in the microwave) and beat in the sugar, salt, and almond flavoring. Whip the cream and beat that in on the lowest speed.
Now, halve the cake layers horizontally. Here’s the easiest way to do that: get eight or so toothpicks and carefully poke them into a cake layer around the equator. Take a long piece of ordinary floss and weave it over one toothpick and under the next all the way around the cake, so that the toothpicks will hold it right around the equator. Garotte the cake with the floss, which will make a beautiful even horizontal cut right through the cake and is kind of fun besides.
Okay, now place one cake layer on the serving platter and frost with a cup or so of frosting. Place another layer on top and spread with apricot preserves. Then cake, then more frosting, then the last layer of cake. Now ignore the top of the cake and frost the sides, but reserve a cup or so of frosting. Get the sides smoothed out pretty well. Then spread apricot preserves over the top, but not necessarily right out to the very edges. If you have a decorating bag with a star tip, pipe a decorative edge around the cake and then on the platter around the bottom of the cake as well. If you don’t, then you can use a doubled-sheet of plastic wrap, poke a hole in the plastic, and pipe using that, but of course without a star tip it won’t be as decorative. Anyway! Once you have edged the top of the cake, sprinkle the toasted slivered almonds all over the apricot preserves on the top.
Chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Bring to room temp before serving. Mmmm! Everybody will love it.