Q: Why do squirrels swim on their backs?

A: To keep their nuts dry!

Okay, all joking aside, nuts are really good for you.  They’re an excellent source of unsaturated fat.  People who are trying to diet find that nuts fill them up and they lose weight faster (as long as the nuts aren’t coated in chocolate).  (Okay, you dirty perverts, get over it now.  We’re talking nuts, not testicles.  Quit your giggling).

But really, who the heck cares about the health value of nuts? This blog is a celebration of food!  Health is secondary, let’s face it (maybe even tertiary).

Let’s talk about Maple Walnut Chiffon Cake, instead.

This is Mom’s recipe.  It’s also the birthday cake I had every year, once I got over my “don’t care what it is as long as the frosting is pretty” phase.  I thought for this blog that I would include a picture of my happy, chubby young self, enjoying some bright pink or blue frosted cake.  Alas.  Apparently I wasn’t really a photogenic child.  The best Mom could come up with was a picture of me with fish. That’s my big brother on the left.

A love of "seafood".

A love of "seafood".


a photo of your first realization that you loved seafood.  As an after note, you could state that you started making cakes in your Easy Bake Oven when a child and really started cooking in earnest when you worked for the restaurant in Warner.  Your love of “gourmet” or fancier dishes didn’t start until long after you left home and tried to find tasty vegetarian dishes…

Now that hurts.  I thought my “hamburger soup” recipe was fine gourmet cooking.

But I digress.

In our house, birthdays meant:

  1. you got to pick your dinner;
  2. more importantly, you got to pick dessert; and
  3. most importantly, you didn’t have to do dishes (after a particularly whiny night this year, when I really didn’t want to do dishes, J. said to me: “don’t worry: it’s your birthday year”.  I chose to ignore the sarcasm).

Didn’t I mention there was a recipe?

Maple Walnut Chiffon Cake (I bragged to my friend Di that this is a very healthy recipe but in retrospect, I think I lied):

  • 1 ⅔ C flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ C white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ C vegetable oil
  • 5 egg yolks, unbeaten
  • ¾ C water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp maple flavouring (okay, in respect of authenticity, I published the recipe “as is”.  But I have to say, “maple flavouring” isn’t all that easy to come by, and maple syrup is soooo much better.  I ditched the sugar (and the “flavouring”) and used syrup.  It turned out wonderful.  Sorry, Mom!)
  • ½ C finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 C egg whites
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  1. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well to add other ingredients.
  2. Add in order: vegetable oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and maple flavouring* (see comment above).  Stir in chopped walnuts.
  3. Measure in large bowl the 1 C egg whites sprinkled with ½ tsp cream of tartar.  Beat until very stiff.
  4. Fold egg whites into batter.
  5. Bake in ungreased angel food cake pan at 325° for 1.5 hours.  Invert cake pan on funnel to cool.

Icing (about that healthy part?  Sorry, Di.  I lied)

Beat together:

  • ½ C butter
  • 1 ½ C icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp maple flavouring* (see comment above – I ditched the cream and the maple flavouring and used maple syrup)

Okay, so it’s not healthy. Whatever.  Now I’m feeling defensive. But it’s damned good cake.  Ooey-gooey sticky goodness.  I suggest toasting the walnuts first.

Thanks for the recipe, Mom. Even if you didn’t take pictures of me on my birthday.  Like, ever.  Too bad it’s not my birthday today, though.  I had to do the dishes. J. wasn’t letting me off the hook this time.  Sigh.

A bonus for our “fans”: my chubby, cake-loving self on the swings (probably after stuffing myself with plenty of sticky icing):

Look at those chubby legs!

Look at those chubby legs!