Cake built on community

I appreciate community now.  I used to spend summer vacations alone, in my room reading or dreaming of running to New York to recreate myself.  I used to spend my nights in college with one boy or another and then walk back to my dorm by myself.  I'd grab a coffee and still fall asleep by one. I used to feel that same solitude at Thanksgiving tables and around the fireplace at my aunt's house or a cousin's trailer.  I lost a best friend when I lived in Italy and never really tried to fill that absence with anyone but dried flowers and the occasional song I'd put on to remind me of her.  Of the people we used to be in high school, singing on the highway and terrified of growing up.   

This past year, things changed in me.  When I moved to San Antonio, when I left my own life in San Diego, I was forced to create a world where I talked to people, actively participated in the lives of others and not live at the periphery of judgment and jealousy.  I had to maintain conversation, show interest, survive.  It was a practice in survivalism, so I didn't lose my own mind.  So I didn't go to bed too lonely and wake up for work late because I wanted to drink another cup of coffee and feel the warm on my hands.  I kept Milo because the bed got too cold at night; I moved back to San Diego.  But, that lesson has stuck with me over the course of these months:  I had to try, to make friends, to build relationships, to not lose my mind.

That is why, when I received a package from Robbie and Pat, it meant so much to me.  To see that  progress and that growth in me.  To send a gift and receive one, too.  My personhood used to found in waste baskets, on crumbled up love notes and old Kleenex boxes.  Now, part of me span continents.  I have built a community through instagram and this blog, and I am grateful for it.  And that community is continuing to grow, as I start to recognize there are people like me all over the world.  And that is why I keep creating in these spaces, so the world can be a little smaller and we can all enjoy these gifts of community.

So, thank you, Patrick and Robert, for the gift box!  The coloring book, the polaroids, and those bourbon cherries, which I have turned into a toffee-topped black tea and almond cherry-upside down cake! (or, if you'd like, a ghetto cherry tarte tatin).  With a little tea blend from my mom's shop in  Pennsylvania, this truly is a dessert that will remind me of the Mid-Atlantic every time I make it.

Black Tea and Almond Cherry-Upside Down Cake

really like the name ghetto tarte tatin more, though ;).  This cake is honestly perfect for any time of day, but I particularly liked it for breakfast with black coffee.  Because of the cherry juice and caramelization, it maintains a light, springiness to the middle cake part.  And bake it in a cast iron!  That truly makes all the difference in the world.  Makes one 10" cake.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ~1 1/2 TB black tea (see note)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 tablespoon butter, softened, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup greek yogurt or buttermilk
  • splash of heavy cream
  • 2 cup cherries, frozen, fresh, or preserved in bourbon like the ones I used


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and prepare a skillet (or cake pan) by buttering it and adding parchment paper to the base
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together flours, soda, salt, tea, white sugar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together oil, 3 tablespoons of butter, eggs, extracts, vinegar, and yogurt (or buttermilk).  Whisk until incorporated and a pale, pale yellow
  4. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet mixture.  Turn on mixer and mix until incorporated, then turn on medium and beat for 2 minutes or until ribbony.  Allow to sit while you make the glaze.
  5. In a saucepan, melt butter and mix in 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Allow it to melt down and begin to bubble.  Add a splash of cream.  This does not have to be in any kind of candy stage (e.g., hardball/softball), but allow for it all to cook on medium until slightly nutty in smell and sticky.  
  6. Toss in cherries.
  7. Pour cherries in "toffee" onto the parchment-lined pan/skillet and move with a spatula until evenly distributed.  Then, carefully pour in batter to cover entire surface, being careful to distribute evenly as well and to not move around the cherries too much.
  8. Bake for 40-50 minutes, checking at the 40-minute mark and tenting with foil if browns too much.  Done with a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool and flip carefully onto a plate, peeling off parchment.  Dust with confectioner's sugar to serve.

Note:  Teas come in a variety of grinds, so if you are using a fine grind (like from a teabag), I would use about one tablespoon.  If you are using a loose-leaf (as pictured), then I would go with an extra half-tablespoon.  The blend I used for this cake was flavored with notes of walnut and really came through on the gooey layer between the cake and the cherries.  So, have fun playing around with this!

And finally, CONGRATS TO JARRY FOR REACHING THEIR GOAL!!!!!  What an exciting and monumental occasion for you guys.  I am so happy and can't wait to see what's to come.