Pastry Affair turned seven this week—a milestone I never imagined when I started this blog so many years ago.
Blogging has evolved since I began sharing my own recipes and stories. This year more than any other I have felt the pressure to do more and be more. The list of things I "should" be doing to improve this space stretches the length of a page. It is easy to get caught up in comparisons, to feel as if my voice is not enough when it's not coming from a professionally designed website and broadcast across a half dozen beautifully curated social media accounts. At the same time, these comparisons feel so silly. Blogging was never meant to be a competition. There is a place for every voice; our diversity only strengthens us.
I spent time this year reflecting on this space. Pastry Affair has meant very different things to me at different times—a reprieve from reality, a creative haven, a community. I have shared recipes as many as three times a week when I was seeking a sense of purpose, and as little as once a month when I found that purpose as a teacher in a high school classroom. This past year I also did something unusual by taking an unannounced break. I spent a weekend building up a few recipes to share during my absence, and turned off my oven for a solid month. I learned we sometimes need vacations even from the things that bring us joy—when we return, it is with a new energy and excitement.
Though my relationship with this space is ever-evolving, I have enjoyed the journey and the company I have had along the way. Thank you, dear readers, for being the loving, supportive constant that makes this space feel like home.
In the past I've celebrated the blog's anniversary with bold layered cakes, but this year I opted for a simpler, seasonal cake. Growing up, there was an immense rhubarb plant in the backyard. Around late May, the first stalks were ready to harvest; the clean, tart flavor of the rhubarb holds a special place in my memory.
This rhubarb almond cake allows both the tart rhubarb and rich almond flavors to shine. The fresh rhubarb lends moisture to the cake and the almonds provide a grounding profile. The cake is most reminiscent of a pound cake once it has had a chance to cool. The top of the cake is sprinkled with almonds and raw sugar, which provide a sweet contrast to the produce. I adore that the rhubarb carries a tartness after baking, but if you prefer a sweeter cake, cut back on the amount of rhubarb and sprinkle a little more raw sugar over the top.
Rhubarb Almond Cake is a seasonal snacking cake that balances flavors both sweet and tart. The cake starts with a rich, almond cake batter infused with almond meal and almond extract. Rhubarb is cut and layered in the center and on the top to provide a tart contrast. With a sprinkling of sliced almonds and sugar, the cake bakes up into a treat that is a delight to share. For a better finished product, I suggest cutting the rhubarb into smaller pieces than shown in the photographs. The smaller pieces fit nicely on a fork and provide a more balanced flavor between sweet and tart from bite to bite.
One Year Ago: Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast
Two Years Ago: Perfect Pie Crust (tutorial) & Berry Balsamic Pie
Three Years Ago: Roasted Strawberry Red Wine Popsicles
Four Years Ago: Fresh Strawberry Cake, Whole Wheat Almond Waffles, Pineapple Rum Cocktail, & Nutella Banana Bread
Five Years Ago: Rhubarb Custard Tart, Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, Rhubarb Muffins, Coconut Waffles, & Mocha Granola
Six Years Ago: Parmesan Crackers, Pina Colada Cupcakes, & Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Coconut Granola & Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
Rhubarb Almond Cake
Adapted from Floating Kitchen
Yields 10-inch cake
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (225 grams) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 oz (0.75 lb or 340 grams) rhubarb, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces (roughly six 15-inch stalks)
1/3 cup (30 grams) sliced almonds
1 tablespoon raw or turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 10-inch spring-form pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract until uniform. Gradually add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt, mixing until uniform.
Spread 1/2 of the cake batter in the prepared pan. Layer 1/2 of the rhubarb pieces in concentric circles. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the top. Layer the remaining rhubarb pieces in concentric circles. Sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds and raw sugar.
Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing spring-form and cooling completely. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.