Ashes and cake


Nothing like ashes to remind me to live harder, better, more lovingly, more joyfully.

Yesterday we planted a Ceiba tree with the ashes of a lifelong friend of mine who lived ill for such a long time it was just a part of him, and then died suddenly before anyone had time to say goodbye.

You never get used to death. It blows you apart every time. When he died, the world didn’t stop; the world didn’t skip a beat.  Life is so hungry for life, it doesn’t stop for death. Death is the past tense, immediately. Death is voracious. Life is voracious. So live now, live hard, live big. Live.

Which brings me to cake. Baking is how I connect with life and creation, beauty, art, nourishment, happiness, communion with others. Whilst I don’t create my own recipes, I’m a passionate baker and home cook. I test a lot of recipes before I consider adding them to my repertoire and sharing them with others.

I know many of you find being in the kitchen a great big yawn. But for those of you who don’t, I want to share my cake discovery of the year.

This recipe for Whiskey Chocolate Prune cake is an adaptation of Claire Ptak’s (Violet bakery in London) Chocolate Prune cake with Armagnac. Who has Armagnac? No one. This version uses rum, whiskey or whatever you’ve got in the house.

There are many versions.  I baked mine from Milk StreetDavid Leibovitz also has one.

Are you thinking, prunes with chocolate? Prunes do something magical to chocolate. Indescribable really. And another thing, this is a flourless, light as air torte even though it is described as gooey.

It looks complicated, but after making it several times, I’ve broken it down to three steps. Soak the prunes in booze. Next, melt the chocolate and mix with the sugar, butter and egg yolks. Combine steps one and two in a bowl. Step three is: Whip egg whites and gently fold them in. Into the oven.

It’s worth the bowls and whisks, and fear that the cake won’t rise. It will. The taste is celestial, a bite of heaven. Subtle, delicate, deep, mysterious, light, fleeting, gone. Like life.

Sending you big love and hugs today. Thank you ever so much for reading!

xo Liza

P.S. Today, March 27, is an iconic date in my soul. My lovely late Mother’s birthday, with me always.

Hello my lovelies! I really hope you make this cake and enjoy the wonder of it. Do you have any “master” recipes to share with us? If so, put the links down below. If you enjoy being part of an intelligent, witty, stylish, life loving group of women, enter your email above so you won’t miss a thing.



11 thoughts on “Ashes and cake

  1. What a lovely post! Sending hugs from the southern tip of Africa and hope you’ve baked one of your prune cakes and enjoyed it in your mother’s memory…

  2. That is a beautiful bit of writing.
    Two things to say about the cake. It seems to be a mousse or soufflé rather than a cake as such. And I have Armagnac in the house. Kind of always. Certainly at the moment, so maybe we’ll make this!

    1. I knew when I wrote, “Who has Armagnac in the house?” that the answer would most definitely be: you! Do make it and let me know. A dollop of whipped cream, creme anglaise or creme fraiche is called for. xo

  3. There’s something so comforting about baking and your article says so. I just wrote about my mom’s passing and also lost a dear friend just months ago. This friend/relative taught me to live life voraciously and every death confirms this, tenfold. Would love to try your recipe…sounds amazing! (My blog is at:

  4. Lovely post. I am an avid baker, cook, hostess. I sometimes think I should be doing More important things with my life. But, I take comfort that what I do makes people happy.

  5. I loved your comments on life and death. Live voraciously, indeed. Regarding the cake/soufflé, I am always on the prowl, looking for gluten-free, yet still scrumptious, recipes to share with my sister-in-law who is hyper-gluten-sensitive. I actually share them with my brother who is the official cook/baker in their family, and then my sister-in-law gets to enjoy the finished product. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  6. Lovely post. I love to cook and entertain. Tonight is roasted pecan salmon with honey/mustard sauce..just what’s needed on a rainy Seattle day.
    Wish I had the cake to finish it off!

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