Not Raspberry, Not Lemon, and Not Heart-Shaped Cakes

2015 version
2009 version
Bon Appétit's 2009 version
A while ago now, a friend requested that I re-attempt these raspberry-lemon heart cakes. She didn’t care about the actual heart cakes; she was requesting an updated “my version” photo—one that would show me baking in the kitchen with Teddy on my hip instead of the stuffed koala bear I used as a prop six years ago. Well, as you can see, we delivered on the request! 

It’s a little ironic actually. See, I’ve been writing something. I don’t know exactly what it is yet—an essay, a blog post, a typed journal entry that I will share with no one? I’m going to keep working on it but the theme that is emerging is definitely about how I feel like I’ve time-traveled back to 2009, like I’m starting from scratch all over again. (I think up until last week, I’d been waiting for my old life, my pre-Teddy life, to return and I think now that he’s 15-months old, I’ve finally given up on that ever happening.)


I’ve always looked at writing as a form of therapy. There’s a Virginia Woolf line about this in her unfinished memoir. She wrote, “It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me.” Writing my book was definitely a healing experience. I got to tell my story. And though I knew that once it was out in the world it was going to have a life of its own, I don’t think I really thought that phenomenon fully through.

Last month, a reader of the blog and fellow Angeleno asked me if I might come to her book-club meeting where she and her friends were set to discuss my book. It sounded sort of scary but mostly fun, so I agreed. I don’t know what I expected exactly, but it ended up being a pretty amazing experience.
See, I arrived at the book club after having had a tough couple of weeks. (There’s more on this in that long-form piece I’m writing.) The word that keeps coming to the surface to describe how I’ve felt is meek. So, I arrived at the book club feeling meek and, bonus, vulnerable. Did these women like the book? Did they even read it? Would they treat me like Evan Kleiman did at Bad Food? Who were they anyway?

And I guess since my book is my life story, I think I assumed they would have come to some of the same conclusions about myself that I had of late—that I’m meek, unassured, and, did I mention meek? But as some of the women were talking about my story / my life, I realized that some of them seemed to see it as so much shinier and prettier and, well, better than I did. And it was a shock.

Earlier in the week, Matt sent me a link to Anne Lamott’s recent viral Facebook post in which she offered up some of the wisdom she’s gained in her six decades of life. This was my favorite part: "Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides."

All I can say are two things. 1. Thank you, Ms. Lamott. And 2. Thank you, Carley, for inviting me to your book club where I got a momentary reprieve from comparing my insides to other people’s outsides. It was an experience I hope to not soon forget.

As for these sandwich cakes? I made them one afternoon the previous week while with Teddy, who alternated between happily watching me and unhappily crying when I wouldn’t let him touch the mixer as it spun; Matt came home from work just in time to take a few photos.

It’s funny how outdated the recipe felt even though it’s only six-years old. It’s just so simple and straightforward. The cake itself doesn’t call for any weird flours. And the filling they recommend is a combination of store-bought jam and store-bought lemon curd, neither of which sounded very appealing to me. Instead, I opted for store-bought coconut jam, which was perfect. (If you have the time and desire, you might simmer a can of sweetened condensed milk in order to make dulce de leche and then use that as the filling.) Either way, this isn’t a life-changing dessert. It's the kind of treat best eaten in the afternoon around 3pm, as a pick-me-up. Or they’re something to make and serve at a kid-friendly party.

Speaking of pick-me-ups, in case the Anne Lamott link wasn’t enough, here’s a poem I came across that felt perfect for right now.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, how about this string of text messages I got from my mom?
(Phone kinda did let her say it in the end though.)
OK, on that note, I’m out. Talk to you guys soon! xoxo

p.s. In case I haven’t made it clear: I accept your recipe requests! Email me or leave them in a comment.
Not Raspberry, Not Lemon, and Not Heart-Shaped Cakes slightly adapted from Bon Appétit

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, warm
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
store-bought coconut jam (or something else you think might be good sandwiched in between vanilla cake)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy 18x12x1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter, then milk. Fold in flour mixture, then beat just until blended, about 30 seconds. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking sheet. 

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and cake begins to color on top, 26 to 28 minutes. Cool cake completely on baking sheet on rack. 

Using a cookie cutter in the shape of your choosing, cut out 8 pieces (reserve leftover cake scraps for something?). Spread a thick layer of jam over top of 1 piece of cake; top with the other piece of cake. Repeat with remaining cake pieces and jam. Sprinkle each with powdered sugar.
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Matthew said...

I want to hear more about Evan at Bad Food. Care to elaborate? xoxox

Amelia Morris said...

Are you trying to start something?

Matthew said...

very much so

Jeff Marlin said...

I wish someone would take me out for a lizard. Who is this Evan person?

tannaz sassooni said...

I alternate moments of feeling like "I am exactly where I want to be" and feeling like I'm completely incompetent and unequipped to do life. I feel like reading Jonathan Ames' "I Love You More than You Know" is a good antidote to the latter. He's so messy, flawed, and open about it, and so completely lovable at the same time. It's a good reminder. (Oh! And I also want to hear about Evan.)

katie said...

Well, It would sure save me some Googling if you did post about the kerfuffle, I'm not willing to listen to a big bunch of podcasts just so I can feel indignant on your behalf! :) Finally just ordered your book this morning, why did it take me so long? Really appreciate your openness, humor, and skill, you ROCK it!- keep on truckin'.

Amelia Morris said...

Thank you so much for ordering it, Katie!! re: the kerfuffle, SORRY! did not mean to be coy/vague. My interview with her never made it to air (and seriously doubt that it will). I may or may not post about my experience... I don't know! I feel weird!

Amelia Morris said...

Never heard of that book, Tannaz. Thank you for the rec and for reading!

Katherine {eggton} said...

I have to tell you that my mother in law is here visiting (since we just had a baby) and she has spent the past few days cooing NOT OVER THE BABY but over your book. I love you, Amelia, but WTF. :)
ps-- sorry if this posts a couple times--having computer troubles.

Dani Elis said...

I love the updated photo :) Teddy is too adorable!

...try not feel meek... I think a lot of people who read this blog this your great! Cheer up chops! :)

Rachel said...

thank you for putting all your thoughts out there, even when you feel meek (I need to do more of that). what you share and how you do it is important and brings joy. keep it coming, please!

Lauren Ann said...

Hey, Amelia. I just read your book and I've been really digging your blog. I think you're great and love your writing (and videos!). I think it's important to get ourselves out there and continue the good work even if it's hard and doesn't always make sense and we feel vulnerable and weird and scared. Anyway, we all need cheerleaders and I'll be yours any day.

sg said...

"So try not to compare your insides to their outsides" - words to keep close by for sure. Was the blizzard upside down when they handed it over to your mom? I never have urges to go to DQ but hearing that they serve those blizzards upside down made me suddenly really want one.

Amelia Morris said...

@Katherine (eggton) hahahaha thanks so much for that. xoxx

Amelia Morris said...

@Rachel and @Lauren Ann thanks so much!! Completely appreciate the cheerleading.

HAILEY said...

Thanks for sharing posts like these! I'm often amazed at how similar we are all really feeling, we're just not always talking about it out loud. Also, I don't know what this post left me craving more- a lizard, cake sandwiches, or a baby on the hip!

Meaghan said...

I'm not going to pretend that I don't have one of my own, because I do and I get it completely, but I'm still going to say this:


Why? Because you're fantastic.

Amelia Morris said...

@HAILEY totally! I love Anne Lamott for always reminding me of this.

@Meaghan lolololol thanks for that. p.s. I AM TRYING to write a story about Aly Raisman!! More on this in an upcoming post perhaps?

heather gilmour said...

Great post, love the updated photo, it look so much fun to bake with kids. The recipe is awesome, I was wondering if you will write some for the leftovers from layer.

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KK said...

i liked everything about this post :)

Susan White said...

It`s look really fun to cook with all the family! Keep blogging! You are great!

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Mary Clark said...

Why do I think Teddy looks like Prince George who went to the hospital yesterday to meet his baby SISTER?! Yes, I'm a royal watcher! When my daughter was Teddy's age and I *had* to cook dinner (parents were living with us in their final years), I finally learned to fill the sink beside me with water, put in some toys, pop her up on a chair at the sink ... ah, blessed peaceful cooking!!!

Love you,

Amelia Morris said...

@Mary That is an AMAZING idea. Trying it tomorrow with Teddy for sure. thank you!!