7.06.2013

The Party Office

I love my job, and I love the people with whom I work. And I love that we find any excuse for a party.

Of course, party = baked goods in [almost] everyone's eyes. And almost everyone in the office enjoys baking, and is really good at it!

Birthdays. We all get to celebrate our birthday with the entire staff. Because there are now more than 30 staff members in the Honors College, each birthday celebration requires at least two desserts so that there is enough to go around. We all take turns baking something special for the birthday girl or boy, and the whole group sings to you... sometimes in harmony and sometimes in well-intentioned dissonance.

New Hires. New employees get a welcome party. Baked goods and other treats show up, the staff is called, and you feel warmly embraced by our family.

Engagements, Weddings, Babies. We are a young staff (I am one of a few exceptions), and this means lots of engagement, wedding, and birth celebrations. And, as you may have surmised, cake.

Departures. We hate to see our colleagues - our friends - depart for new horizons, but we wish them well and promise to keep in touch. And we do keep in touch, and are glad for Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, and email. And we send them off with lots of extra calories in their stomachs in case there is a shortage of food where they are going.

Our good friend Jeff recently left Tucson for a wonderful position at Notre Dame - such a great opportunity for him, and such a sad loss for us. (Jeff, if you are reading, Leroy says hello!) So rare is the person whose humor is dry and witty, whose intelligence and common sense collide, whose willingness to do any-and-everything is unmatched, and whose friendship is a treasured gift.

That is Jeff. And when Jeff left, I baked a cake for him. (He generously shared it with other staff). Whenever one of us asked Jeff what he would like for his treat, he would say, "Anything." So "anything" is what I made him, with thanks to Giada De Laurentiis for the inspiration.

As part of the circle of life, friends and colleagues will get older, some will marry and have children, some will arrive bright-eyed, and others will leave for new opportunities. And we will continue to celebrate them all.

Party on!

~ David

Apricot Almond Cake
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

4 ounces ground almonds

1/2 cup pine nuts, divided
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and somewhat cooled
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.


Combine the ground almonds and 1/4 cup pine nuts in a food processor along with the flour, baking powder, and salt. Process until pine nuts are ground, and set aside.


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and the sugar until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. Add the butter, and milk. Stir in the vanilla extract and apricots. Gently stir in the dry ingredients.


Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sliced almonds and remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts. Bake until the cake is cooked and a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the edges. Turn the cake out onto a rack, then right side up, slice, and serve.


Makes 10-12 servings.

24 comments:

  1. I think I´ll choose this cake too David. Exactly the kind of thing I like to eat and to bake. What is it about simple cakes with nuts (pine nuts first, pistachios second, sliced almonds always) that I love so much? I´ll take a few slices while I think about the answer... I love your office, btw, you probably have cake every week, and you all like to bake??!! that´s such a plus!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Paula - I love the office, too - but just try to lose any weight while working there! :) We do have a treat almost every week. And then some of us just bring in baked goods to keep from eating them at home. I really like cakes that aren't too sweet, and this one is perfect.

      Delete
  2. This makes my mouth water! I'm not much of a cake maker, but I am inspired! Thanks, David!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kirsten - the beauty of this cake is in its simplicity! You can throw this together in a snap, and it always comes out well!

      Delete
  3. The simplest cakes are often the best. I'm loving the addition of pine nuts here. So beautiful, David.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, John - pine nuts have been a favorite for me since I was a kid, when they were very hard to find!

      Delete
  4. I am getting a sense from your post that just about any occasion is a good reason to indulge into wonderful baked goods. Your co-workers are fortunate to have you on their team! How about a "I-made-it-to-work-on-time" cake or a "hump-day" tart?

    The recipe looks simple and delicious!

    Towny

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Towny, I would make a "I-made-it-to-work-on-time" cake, but then I would never be able to bring it in - I am always late! The "Happy Hump Day" tart is much more feasible!

      Delete
  5. What a positively beautiful post! You photos are beautiful, and that cake looks fab.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Adri! And welcome to C&L! Just played a bit on your site and it is beautiful! Love the strawberry cream liqueur!

      Delete
  6. What a great workplace, any excuse for a cake I say :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Karen! It makes it easy to go to work every day!

      Delete
  7. David, this cake is a beauty - and, of course, you already know that I will be baking this cake as soon as I can get my hands on some really good pine nuts and dried apricots. It looks so much like the cakes I absolutely adore and bake most often. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe with all of us!
    The picture of the perfectly cut cake is just so wonderful and inspiring - I love it!
    Einen schönen Mittwoch und liebe Grüße aus dem sonnigen Bonn!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea - Vielen Dank! This isn't too dissimilar from your recent butter cake, although I think yours has more butter! I compromised with the extra pine nuts... Simple cakes are the best, and I would do almost anything to have a piece of Stachelbeerkuchen now - or a recipe and a source for the berries! Bis bald, meiner Freundin!

      Delete
  8. Great story!!! It sounds like you work in a really nice and friendly environment!!! If we were Jeff we would be happy with that cake.. We'd have a hard time sharing.. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yesterday - just before you commented - we were having a lovely pineapple upside down cake. Another birthday! And August has 6 birthdays... here come the pounds! Wish you two worked with us - we would be seeing great desserts from you!

      Delete
  9. Oh what a fabulous post! Reading it reminded me of how my office used to be before they started scaling back on the cost of fun! We used to have a summer and winter party at a nice restaurant. Now we have a winter party in our office waiting room. Birthdays which were celebrated for every employee got reduced to one monthly celebration for everyone celebrating a birthday in that month. And now that's fallen by the wayside! No wonder people are happy to see me bring in my baked leftovers! Your cake is beautiful in it's simplicity. I adore apricots and pine nuts just make everything taste extra buttery! Lovely photos, too! Glad I stopped by via Vintage Kitchen : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anne - welcome to Cocoa & Lavender! Glad you stopped by - and I hope you will visit again. I think I can tell form your blog title that I will be enjoying your posts, too! I am glad it brought back memories of the "good ol' days" - maybe you need to help reinstate them?

      Delete
  10. I wish I worked with you David! And go figure, your whisks match your fun personality. I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ahu - and I love my fun kitchen tools! I was thinking a "tools of the trade" posts showing off some unusual and fun tools...

      Delete
  11. I don't have a staff to share such goodies with. The advantage is that I don't have to share and the drawback is that I don't have to share! This cake looks SO good, I may have to make it soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, I truly feel your pain. There is half a blueberry pie on the counter right now... and I didn't bring it to the office. That means I will have to suffer and eat it myself... such selflessness, I know...

      Delete
  12. Hi David,
    I made this cake for, um, a dinner party (that sounds better than me wanting to eat this cake by myself, right?) and it turned out great! Moist, great texture, and not too sweet. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!
    Kevin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has become one of my favorite cakes, Kevin! Thanks fro letting me know you liked it! And, in all seriousness, this is a judgment-free zone. You can make the cake just for you and eat the whole thing. I won't judge.... Really. :)

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.