This past Monday, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I finally recognized that I need help at home. That the daily one-woman show is not sustainable. That being in a city without any family nearby to help-out is not the best situation for my young family. That replying, “mommy will read to you later” continually to my daughter while prepping dinner and feeding her brother (and thinking about the laundry, garbage and a million other things) doesn’t create the home scenario that I had originally envisioned when I chose to stay at home. That someone has to do these chores but maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t always need to be me. That one-on-one time with each child is not remotely possible when I am home with all three children.
When I had my third child this past summer, a dear friend passed on some advice from her mother-in-law (a mother of four). The advice was simply to hire someone to help. While I accepted the advice, I secretly thought that it probably wouldn’t apply to me. That somehow, I was different, stronger or more resilient than the rest. Or, that there are also loads of other women in the same situation as me that are thriving (just look at their gorgeous Instagram accounts!).
But, this is a myth. This myth is perpetuated in the media because conventional motherhood is so loaded and controversial. Everyone has an opinion about the right way to mother. The curated and outside image of “doing it all” is viewed more favourably than admitting that help is needed. As a result, caregivers are rarely mentioned on social media. Of course, safety and privacy reasons play into posting a photo of a caregiver, but I think it is safe to say that omission in writing is done purposefully. Michelle Ruiz comments that given the intimacy of the Instagram platform, it is worrisome that caregivers are omitted.
The myth of the “mother as all” or the independent family is slowly decaying. I think we can help this process by admitting out-loud that help is needed. That babysitters, nannies and other help outside the home are so incredibly valued. That these roles require immense respect and that they shouldn’t be in the shadows.
I recently hired a nanny this past February to help me out part-time. We adore her already. My only regret is that I waited so long.
Let’s talk cake, shall we? I consider this to a winter baking project as I have used cherries that were frozen during the height of their growing season, last summer. Frozen cherries are added to the cake batter which increases the baking time but makes the cake easier to pull together. The best part about this cake is the topping right near the edge of the pan. That darker, crispy bit that got a little more heat than the middle. If the cake is sliced in the traditional triangle shape, it could (should?) be eaten backwards. This rustic cake is not too sweet or dense which is the reason that I think it is my husband’s favourite cake. And, why is it called a buckle? When the cake is baked, the cherries and streusel topping create an uneven pattern on the top of the cake or little concave sections where the cherries have sunk into the cake batter.
Cherry Almond Buckle
Makes: 1 8-inch (20 cm) cake (8 hearty slices of cake)
Time: Prep (25 minutes) + Baking time (60 minutes)
8-inch (20 cm) cast-iron skillet
1/2 cup (42 g) almond flour
1/3 cup (65g) brown sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup (55 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup (30 g) slivered almonds
1 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (112 g) sour cream (I used 14% MF)
2 cups (260 g) frozen sour cherries, divided in half
Whisk together the almond flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cubed butter and work into the mixture using your hands. When the mixture is crumbly, toss in the slivered almonds. Cover the bowl with cling-film and place in the refrigerator.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter an 8-inch (20 cm) cast iron skillet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together using a handheld mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and briefly mix. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low. Add half of the sour cream and mix on low. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream until the batter just comes together and the flour is mixed in. The batter will be thick. Fold in half (130 g or 1 cup) of the frozen cherries.
4. Pour the cake batter into the prepared skilled. Sprinkle the remaining frozen cherries on top. Finally, sprinkle the almond topping evenly over the cake. Bake for 50-70 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Once baked, remove from the oven an allow to cool in the skillet.
This cake is best enjoyed on the day it is baked. It can be served warm or at room temperature along with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Alternatively, enjoy the next day as a breakfast treat by lightly heating up a piece in the oven and adding a dollop of thick, Greek yoghurt.
The moist cake lasts for 4 days in a sealed container. It also freezes well.