Cake Archive

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

flag cake

berry flag cake

Last year, I brought a flag cake to a 4th of July rooftop barbecue. Earlier in the week, I’d harbored fantasies about making an elaborate ice cream cake or layered berry yogurt popsicles or salads teetering on the edge of food safety standards but New York City, as it always seems to be in the first week of July, was at the crest of a week-plus of ever-increasing temperatures and stickiness, a summit where it tends to linger for a few even more airless days before finally releasing the thunder and lightening, sinking the mercury back to a brief day or two of something resembling temperate before it starts the climb again. What, me? No fan of NYC summers? Where would you get such an idea?

cake batter
buttery sheet cake

(This is also the time of year, every year, where I break my please-don’t-be-so-dull-as-to-complain-about-the-weather-Deb rule. Forgive me) Anyway, the heat got the better of my ambitions and I decided to make a simple yellow sheet cake with cream cheese frosting and an arrangement of patriotic berries that had, in fact, been imported from Baja. To me, it was good, cute even, but nothing crazy, just something I’d seen kicked around magazines and TV shows for two decades, hardly a revolutionary idea. My friends, however — many of whom use their ovens for sweater storage and gasp! do not spend their days ingesting various formats of food media — went absolutely ballistic over it. When strangers from other parties on the roof started taking some, they became possessive of their cake and shooed them away. The told me in no uncertain terms would I ever be welcome at a July 4th party again without it.

cream cheese frosting

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 25, 2012

triple berry summer buttermilk bundt

summer berry buttermilk bundt

Our toddler left us. Or, at least until Friday. Over the last 2 3/4 years, we’ve occasionally been blessed with the chance to go away for a few days sans bébé. We return well-rested and smiling, sandy grit in the bottom of our suitcases, traces of whatever had vexed us before we left deliciously eviscerated from memory, and almost giddy with excitement to start scraping spaghetti from the underside of the high chair again. But this is the first time — with barely a “Sayonara!” as he ran out the door or a single “Wish you were here!” postcard from the road — that Jacob has headed out for lazier climes without us. He’s spending a week at the mountain retreat of Camp Grandparents, where he’s forced to endure petting zoos, baby pools, wide expanses of fresh air, nonstop adoration, and, no doubt, all of the ice cream he can talk them into.

three berries
light and so very fluffy batter

Meanwhile, Alex and I have been left behind to attend to our assigned daily grinds and realize how totally dull this place is in the morning without a toddler buzzing from room to room at the crack of dawn, pulling on our earlobes to announce, “I’m awake! Wake UP!” and serenading us with ABCs on his guitar. We’ve also learned that we share differing interpretations of a week’s Vacation From Parenting. For example, I was thinking that, freed from the daily whirlwind of tight schedules, tantrums, irregular sleep patterns and spontaneous song-and-dance-and-marching! parties that life with a toddler demands, we could finally get caught up on things that have been neglected for the last 2 3/4 years. My to-do list for this week involves such enticing tasks as “Get the apartment painted!” “Rearrange furniture and pictures!” “Clean out closets!” “Meet at gym every day after work,” and “Back-up and replace laptops.” I was also thinking we could read and discuss “War and Peace” every night before we hit the pillow, but didn’t want to be overly ambitious. Alex’s comparatively modest list includes such audacious suggestions as “Get lots of sleep, get drinks with friends, watch TV with the sound on and the Closed Captioning off, and very little else.” Yeah, so who would you rather party with? It’s okay, I won’t take it personally.

folding in the floured berries

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rhubarb snacking cake

rhubarb snacking cake

Almost every year, as soon as the weather gets warm, I become obsessed with a simple, single layer cake that can be made in little time and that I promise will be all you need to be welcome at any picnic/barbecue/cook out/pot-luck that summer.

pretty stalks of rhubarb, at last
rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice

Three years ago, it was a raspberry buttermilk cake, which was the equivalent of taking a single, thin layer from the very best yellow birthday cake you’ve ever had, scattering fresh raspberries over it and baking it until bronzed and perfect. Needless to say, it went on repeat. Later that summer, it was blueberry boy bait, a cake so decadent and buttery I briefly questioned if it had too much butter, then checked my pulse, realized any talk of too much butter was simply madness, and enjoyed the cake thoroughly for as long as the blueberries lasted. (Also, it worked.) Last year I become enamored with something I called a strawberry summer cake. Round and finely crumbed, yet almost butter-slathered-hot-biscuit in texture, it works best with just-picked and borderline-overripe strawberries that, when baked, nearly dissolve into jammy puddles throughout the cake. I also found that I liked it with some of the regular flour replaced with barley flour; just trust me, it works.

sour cream cake batter

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

chocolate buckwheat cake

chocolate buckwheat cake

There are rainy, dreary, energy depleted days when the best thing you can do at 3 p.m. is to stop pretending that anything short of chocolate cake is going to improve your outlook. Tuesday was that kind of day and, just my luck, this happened to be a rainy Tuesday kind of chocolate cake.

chopping bittersweet chocolate
buckwheat flour with ground almonds

But before that, I really tried to tell you about soup, soup with whole grains and seasonal onions and floating croutons of pungent cheese. I really tried. But I found that the same conditions that led to the need for a hearty soup on a Monday night in May — a gray day in which my brain a little fried from a week at the beach and maladjustment back to real life — also made it impossible to discuss soup in any kind of articulate manner on Tuesday. And so, I made chocolate cake instead. If this site had a subtitle, that would be it.

what you'll need + bea's inspiration

Continued after the jump »

Monday, April 16, 2012

banana bread crepe cake with butterscotch

banana bread crepe cake

If this site could have a single prologue, it would go like this: It all started out so innocently. Because doesn’t it always? I wanted something simple but got carried away. A search for a lasagna I could love became a Mount Everest of a Lasagna Bolognese; a hankering for a great game-day snack became a mash-up of Welsh rarebit and pull-apart rye bread; and a hunt for a quiche that could serve a crowd became a 4 1/2 year vendetta until I triumphed over those 137 square inches of buttery flaky shell. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. I’m likely scaring away people who just wanted something simple to cook (I promise, the next recipe will be so simple, you might, like me, weep and wonder where it’s been every rushed weekday night of your life thus far.)

speckly bananas are your friend
blending the batter

In this case, I started daydreaming about the place where a simple crepe would intersect banana bread and from there, I couldn’t stop. Well, I had to stop for a week because my book’s first pass pages came back (guys? It looks so pretty, I can’t wait to show you) and when they dragged it from my apartment (I, um, wasn’t done yet), I found that my cooking mojo had left with it. If you’d like a delightful recipe for banana flatcakes (what I affectionately called the first flop), I’ve got one. Then, I was so low on groceries, I had only the exact number of eggs I needed for the recipe, and like something out of a bad comedy skit, I managed to smash the egg on the outside of the mixing bowl, all of my hopes of getting this recipe to you in a reasonable frame of time dribbling down the side and puddling on the counter. (If this ever happens to you, promise me you won’t leave the kitchen in disgust, if only because cleaning up that egg an hour later is only going to double your grump.) Then my son demanded the last speckled banana, the one I’d been saving to try the crepes again (the nerve!), and it was a few days before the next batch were ripe enough to use.

I am, if little else, the queen of excuses right now.

batter thickens overnight

Continued after the jump »


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