Cake Archive

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 »

Friday, January 6, 2012

apple sharlotka

apple sharlotka

At last, I have a new recipe for you in the heavily neglected category of Russian food. How could this have happened, you ask? Are you not married to a Russian? Does your son not respond to the question “Would you like to go to the library?” with “Da!”? Are you not still in love with all of the Russian food you’ve encountered in your (holy wow) 8 1/2 years of courtship? And the answer is very simple: I needn’t cook Russian food because my mother-in-law does it so well.

great green granny apples
apple peelings

Weekly, she brings us deliveries of stuffed cabbage or Salad Olivier (which is one of my oddball son’s favorite foods) or blintzes or vegetable soups, oh, and farmers cheese, which I have come to believe Russians imbue with the healing/halo-ensconced qualities most American parents do yogurt. But, she never brings us this, and so I had to take matters into my own hands.

halved and cored apples

Continued after the jump »

Monday, September 12, 2011

red wine chocolate cake

red wine chocolate cake

Saturday night, New York City was the loudest I’d heard it in a long time. I should preface this by saying that I live in a noisy part of an already noisy neighborhood and under the best of circumstances — NYU students gone for the summer, long holiday weekend, rain — there’s always a Saturday night ruckus. But this was something else. This woke me up. I swear, I heard a trumpet, more sirens than feasibly possible, people cheering like the Yankees had won the World Series (did they? no wait, something about football?) and when I went to the window, I saw a Vespa go down the sidewalk and I couldn’t get back to sleep. For the eve of such a somber anniversary, there was hardly anyone bummed out after midnight. I like that about this place, even grudgingly, even at 1 am.

the line-up, with bedell first crush!

I don’t have a 9/11 story. It barely happened to me. I mean, it very much happened to me, it happened to my city, I lived here at the time and it broke my heart. But I didn’t work down there, I didn’t know anyone that did, and were I to spin any kind of dramatic retelling, it would be inauthentic as it’s just not my story to tell. I wasn’t even on the island at the time, as I worked in the Bronx back then and I remember, distinctly, and in hardly my finest moment, feeling like I immensely hated my life right then, stranded miles and miles from everyone I cared about, stuck at the kind of job where they asked you to get back to work shortly after the first plane crashed. I wanted a different path, I just didn’t know how to forge it for myself.

swirly batter

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 13, 2011

dobos torte

mine

Last week, when it was ninety million degrees in New York City and all the sane people were cracking open fire hydrants, grilling on their roof decks and/or sticking their faces in their wheezing air conditioner units, I looked around my shoebox kitchen, with its half-counter and miniature oven, considered the sheer volume of items left on my to-do that I’d never get done and said, “Clearly, this is the day for me to make an 11-layer dobos torte.” Because my birthday was two days away and that seemed as good as any to sever what frayed tethers I had left to my sanity. [Plus, I already had cleaning help!]

lots of eggs, lots of yolks
thick, ribbony batter

Growing up, my family and I considered the 7-layer cake to be the ne plus ultra of bakery cakes. They were rectangular, filled with a pale, faintly mocha flavored buttercream and coated, top and sides, with a firmer dark chocolate frosting. I’ll be the first to admit that their flavor wasn’t always spectacular, but did you hear the part about the seven layers? The awesomeness of this trumped all chocolate intensity quibbles. What I hadn’t realized, however, is that the historical home of this cake was not (shockingly) a circa-1980s Central New Jersey strip mall bakery, but a Budapest, Hungary specialty food shop where one József C. Dobos invented it his namesake torte in 1887, which became so famous that the city threw a full scale city-wide fete to celebrate its 75th anniversary. That there is some cake.

puddle of batter

Continued after the jump »

Monday, May 23, 2011

strawberry summer cake

strawberry summer cake

It is not summer yet. In fact, it’s been raining for more than a week, and another week — the one in which I presume we’ll be introduced to our new mosquito overlords — is promised. In fact, it was so cold that I met a friend for lunch today and had to wear both a light wool sweater and a jacket. It’s almost like summer looked at New York City and said “pbbbblt!”

jersey strawberries
hulled, halved

But I know it’s coming. I know it’s coming because strawberries appeared at the Greenmarkets last week and if you think I dork out pretty badly when the first asparagus stalks appear, you ain’t seen nothing like my “the strawberries are here!” dance. (And hopefully, you never will, or at least until Jacob gets his tell-all YouTube channel.) Suffice it to say that it is awkward but that’s almost besides the point. Strawberries — the kind that really taste like strawberries — are always promised for weeks before they appear and without fail, I go overboard when they arrive, bringing home pounds, plural, when a single box would get us through the weekend. When Monday rolls around and the strawberries are on their last legs, if you listen closely to them, they’ll tell you that this cake is how they’d like to go out.

making the batter

Continued after the jump »


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