While the reviews of the Catalan Pinch Cake were mixed, the Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake got only raves: Nicola said, "This cheesecake is so seriously fantastic it is difficult to stop at just one slice." Rebecca described it as "Yummy. Scrummy. My husband loved it too." Kristina's husband loved it too, even though he "really dislikes pumpkin and doesn't have much of a sweet tooth." I think the bakers were about evenly divided over whether they liked the cheesecake better than the caramel, or the caramel better than the cheesecake, or liked them equally. It's a tough dilemma to have, but then we're all tough.
I had a hard time choosing a FEATURED BAKER this week because everyone's cakes looked so glorious and the stories were all so good, so finally, I went to my blog, closed my eyes, and pointed at the screen--and came up with Mendy. You've probably read his posts enough to know that when he bakes with dairy, he's limited to a little-bitty toaster oven, in which he manages to turn out amazing creations. This week, he found that the toaster oven wouldn't handle a springform pan, so he used mini cheesecake pans (describing his baby cheesecakes as "little guys in their metallic undies"). He also couldn't use his food processor, but the blender was ok, so he used that for both the crust and the cheesecake mix. Finally, he discovered that the heating element in the toaster oven makes toasting nuts a little dicey, but he persevered after one batch of "blackened pecans." His "burnt noisette" also took him two tries, but he did it. If you haven't read it already, take a look at his blog to appreciate his indomitable spirit and also his adorable daughter, Chava.
Do you have your glaceed fruits soaking in rum? I bought lemon rind, orange rind, cherries, and golden raisins at my local grocery store, and am watching them growing plump and happy. I finally decided to buy the wreath pan; it's quite large and relatively shallow, so I can see why Rose recommends against substituting a bundt pan--by the time it baked through, the crust might be overdone. A couple of loaf pans would be a good substitute, and maybe this recipe would work in cupcake pans as little fruit gems. Now that I know that I'm not going to be the lone fruitcake baker (or the lone fruitcake), I can rest easy and just wait to see what you come up with.
If you want to look ahead, check out the directions and pictures for the Holiday Pinecone Cake. This recipe, with its fondant and its elaborate decorations, takes me so far out of my comfort zone that my kitchen may resemble a medieval torture chamber. If any of you look at this recipe and say, "This will be fun!" instead of "this will be a disaster," feel free to hand out some advice on how to proceed.