Chez Panisse Almond Torte


  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 7 oz./200g soft almond paste
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. almond extract
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Beat sugar and almond paste until the almond paste is in fine pieces. Beat in butter and vanilla. Cream mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition so the eggs are thoroughly mixed in.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat in just until thoroughly blended.
  4. Turn batter into pan, smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center feels springy when you push it gently.
  5. Let cool for about 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the springform pan.

Serves 8-10.

Source: Alexandra’s Kitchen website

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

About the Book

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

The Girl on the Train Discussion Questions

The following discussion questions for “The Girl on the Train” were created by our member Heather. We freely share our original discussion questions, but please consider including a credit and link to our website.

  1. When did you figure out “Who Done It”?
  2. The book is based on voyeuristic tendencies.  Do you think this type of behavior is typical of people who travel the same path daily?  Do you think Rachel’s voyeurism was more profound due to her situation? 
  3. The book is full of lies and secrets.  How do the lies told by Rachel benefit her or harm her?  How do the lies by Megan benefit her or harm her?  Is it okay to lie sometimes?  Do you think Megan would have been better off keeping her secrets in the end?
  4. In both Rachel Watson’s and Megan Hipwell’s marriages, deep secrets are kept from the husbands. Are these marriages unusual or even extreme in this way? Consider how many relationships rely on half-truths? Is it ever necessary or justifiable to lie to someone you love? How much is too much to hide from a partner?  This question comes from “The Book Report Network” discussion questions.
  5. There are many references to mothers and motherhood in the book.  How do you think motherhood affected Megan, Anna and Rachel?  Do you think Anna would have done what she did in the end if she hadn’t been a mother? 
  6. The book brings up concepts of “black outs” related to excessive drinking.  Do you think memories that occur during a black out episode are lost for good or can they be retrieved?  Are they reliable memories?
  7. A crucial question in THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is how much Rachel Watson can trust her own memory. How reliable are her observations? Yet since the relationship between truth and memory is often a slippery one, how objective or “true” can a memory, by definition, really be? Can memory lie? If so, what factors might influence it? Consider examples from the book. This question comes from “The Book Report Network” discussion questions.
  8. Trust and trustworthiness are important topics in this book. Many characters seem trustworthy but in the end are not.  What helps us form trust in others?  What breaks trust between people?  How does one reestablish trust?  Once trust is broken, can it ever be restored?  How do we establish trust in someone we meet for the first time? 
  9. Who is responsible for Megan’s fate in the end? 

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Creative Commons License

The Girl on the Train discussion questions are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.