Valentine's Day

When a Cake Betrays You, on Valentine's Day

February  9, 2016

My family has made a traditional almond cake for Valentine's Day for longer than I can remember. It is spongy, light, and perfect with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and all of the red and pink crap from the seasonal candy aisle that I love stocking up on every February.

When I took this tradition to college with me, I knew I would be guarded against sad lonely Valentine's Days, or Valentine's Days with incorrect boyfriends whom I couldn't break up with because it was almost Valentine's Day, because I'd always have this cake!

Cake doesn't let you down.

Photo by Molly Yeh

But then I actually tried making the thing all on my own for the first time, without the help of my mom and sister, and realized that whittling a good healthy relationship with a human in time for an evening date might have actually been easier than making this cake.

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In my bedroom in my tiny apartment on the Upper West Side, I spent my entire Valentine's Day sitting on the floor with my one mixing bowl and a fork, brute forcing almond paste together with egg yolks and then trying with all of my might to beat egg whites to a stiff peak.

Under the guise of resourcefulness, I used the same bowl for both of these tasks and didn't really clean it out in between—all of the ingredients were going to the same place anyway. Some tears and sweat probably also got into the batter, though, since those egg whites obviously never reached stiff peaks.

In the end, the cake was still edible, but I then had to make fresh whipped cream with my bowl and fork and it was frustrating and the outcome was truly horrifying.

I probably would have traded it for one terrible date, but at least I toned my arms in the process?

Photo by Molly Yeh

For Molly's updated Valentine's Day almond cake recipe, head to her website, My Name is Yeh.

Has a recipe you thought you could count on ever turned on you? Share with us in the comments!


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molly yeh recently moved from brooklyn to a farm outside of grand forks, north dakota, where her husband is a fifth generation farmer. she writes the blog my name is yeh.


Kristien February 10, 2016
Oh my gosh, Molly, I had a very similar experience on Valentine's Day in college. It did not involve a cake, but it did involve a "Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie" that I made for my boyfriend along with a chicken pot pie for dinner (I like pie). I was *also* lacking in the mixer/beater/whisk department and spent over an hour whipping several cups of cream with a fork into something that was *almost* the right consistency. It turned out pretty damn good, especially considering what I was working with, but was maybe not quite as firm as it should have been. And I hear ya about those toned arms, girl (insert flexing bicep emoji here). Do I get extra domestic points? It must have impressed the boyfriend, though, because I married him!
Kristien February 10, 2016
I wanted to add that I did all this in a cocktail dress. It was probably my peak of cooking style because now I just do it in sweats.