Martha’s Linzer Torte

Birthdays are funny things. The hype around celebrating them seems to come in two phases. The first one starts with birth and lasts probably until 25. At 25, after having (hopefully) graduated and joined the real working world, every reminder of age is given the evil eye and subconsciously creates internal stress: career-wise, relationships, friendships, financially, where to go in life, aaaahhhh….! Recently I saw a 15 page CV….. how am I ever going to fill so many pages in the next few years? Too much to do and so little time. Also, if you’re female, mid twenties-thirties and single, I’m sure you can relate to this dialogue from When Harry Met Sally:

Sally: AND, I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men.

The second phase of celebratory hypes starts round about retirement age, 60 years, and lasts for the rest of your life (YAY some celebrations at the end of the 40 year working tunnel). Last week we celebrated a very special birthday within the family. Planning for the 3 day weekend (apparently the older one gets, the longer one wants to celebrate, one day isn’t enough) had begun months before. The closer we came, the only thing on the birthday boy’s mind was the party. The excitement was comparable to that of a 4 year old eating chocolate cake for the first time. Being 23, I didn’t quite understand how one could be sooooo excited about getting older, but I guess the older one gets the more appreciative one becomes of age and life (oooooo words of wisdom…. :-P). Let me get back to you about that when I turn 60.

With a guest list close to 50 and a Sunday morning plan of coffee, tea and cakes, no more needed to be said. I successfully took on my first cake marathon and baked 5. Luckily some cakes, like the one below, are best baked 2 days in advance. This made life a little easier, however with the additional skiing, small-talking and remaining birthday madness, sleep deprivation was to be expected.

Finally, about this first cake: my mother grew up with a nanny/maid called “Martha”. She joined the family when my mother was born and stayed for 50 years. Martha was like a grandmother to me. She could also bake like a goddess; her cakes were divine. The Linzer Torte (swiss style, not Austrian and overly spiced) is one of her recipes. Deciphering her jumbled handwriting and trying to follow her thoughts wasn’t the easiest, but definitely worth it. Sadly she passed away a few years ago, but she is always remembered when one of us decides to whip up a cake for a special occasion. The Linzer has become somewhat of a family tradition. With its special almond paste filling and generous layer of jam, it’s always a winner.

Martha’s Linzer Torte

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A Festive Dessert for the Greatest Season of the Year

Admittedly a tad delayed, but still timely, here is a list of a few favorite things which help make Christmas the best season of the year.

1. A great excuse to hold a party or two. With lots and lots of booze.
2. Christmas lights all over cities
3. An excuse to put a giant tree in your living room and decorate it (the smell is just amazing!! Fake trees are not the way to go).
4. Mulled wine. Nom.
5. Turkey and stuffing and trimmings and pudding and brandy butter.
6. MORE FOOD (and almost all of it seems to contain alcohol in some way or another).
7. Cookies
8. Gingerbread houses.
9. The spirit in the air: everyone is happy….. ok most people are happy.
10. Yet another reason to get presents (and of course buy some…not the season to be selfish)!
11. Christmas markets
12. Carol singing (definitely the only time of year I actually make it to church)
13. GLITTER
14. Lots and lots of family time…. probably not appreciated by everyone out there, in some cases 2 days a year are plenty.
15. SNOW
16. Mistletoe
17. Tasteless Christmas jumpers….. Primark seems to have been successful in this department

Why can’t it be Christmas all year round? We would possibly all be spoilt and overweight alcoholics by now if that were the case, but introducing a half Christmas in June doesn’t seem like such a bad idea:-).

Lebkuchen Mousse ala Robert Speth

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