It was a little weird sitting this week out, and just reading the exchanges between the bakers. I kept feeling that I was not doing something I was supposed to be doing, and then I'd remember that I wasn't writing my blog. But Hanaâ was, and doing a fine job of it, I might add. Thanks!
The Tres Leches cake seems to be a love-it or hate-it kind of thing. A couple of bakers had an almost visceral reaction to the milkiness of the cake. Raymond, who can always be counted on for a forthright opinion, concluded that, "The taste wasn’t all that bad but I just can’t get past the sopping wet cake concept. When I sliced it and it was sitting in all that milk my stomach did a little flip-flop. I just found it gross."
On the other hand, Gartblue decided that the cake tasted "really really classy and nice." She said she "love[d] the milky taste, and although she thought it might be "overkill" to eat a slice with whipped cream, she ended up eating "ALL of the cream that came with my slice. It was that good!"
And Nicola kind of hedged her bets, concluding that, "I think I like this cake. Even with the buttery whipped cream on top. I can imagine eating this, straight from the fridge on a hot (but not humid) day."
I hope you looked at all the versions of the cake, and especially of the whipped cream topping. While I just slathered the cream on top, plain, when I made it, others of you did beautiful, imaginative, and decorative things with the whipped cream.
The FEATURED BAKER this week is Sherrie, who gets first prize for persistence and dedication. After she baked the sponge cake, she looked at it, decided that she did not like the way it looked: it was not tall enough (yes, she measured it!) and it was "as pale as [her] Canadian butt." So she simply baked cake #2. Yes, I am a huge fan of anyone who is so gamely up to the challenge that she just shrugs off a less-than-perfect first try and goes at it again. She was not fully satisfied with Cake #2, but since she'd invited her running friends over for cake and running, she said, "I had to serve them something."
Cake #2 looked beautiful to me--she made little decorative swirls with caramel left over from the pumpkin cheesecake. Although she's fixated on the height of her cake (anybody else measure their cake or know how high it's supposed to be?), she found the cake "refreshing"--the kind of cake that should be served on a "hot summer's evening"--even though she was enjoying it in not-so-delightful temperatures of 0 degrees C. (I feel your pain, Sherrie).
The next cake up is our first angel food cake--it takes a lot of egg whites (14, to be exact), so I hope you've been freezing all the leftover whites. Make sure that you bake the angel food cake until it's completely done. Bad things happen when even slightly underdone angel food cakes are placed over a wine bottle to cool. That's all I'll say for now, but I'll have more to report next Monday.
If any of you are seeking more NordicWare buying opportunities, the individual pineapple upside-down cakes that are scheduled for the following week can be baked in adorable little pineapple molds. They can also be baked in slightly less adorable, but equally serviceable, 5-oz. ramekins. Or whatever you have available.
The cake calling for the elusive Seville oranges is coming up quickly. Mendy, Jennifer, and Vicki have found them, and I have some too, courtesy of Vicki, wonderful purveyor of sour oranges.
You may have noticed that February 22 is a "free choice" week. What I have in mind is that this is a chance for you to bake one of the cakes that I made before we started this group, or one of the cakes that the group baked but you missed, or even one that you baked before and would like to try again. I wasn't thinking so much of one of the cakes that we haven't baked yet, because I think it's more fun if we bake them together, but I guess I'm not going to pitch a fit if somebody really wants to do that.
We have another new baker this week. Toni describes herself as being "giddy with excitement" over the prospect of joining the group. On the list of Heavenly Bakers, it looks like she hasn't blogged for three months--but she has. There must be some glitch in the feed. She's already baked the Barcelona brownies and the chocolate streusel coffee cake. So don't believe Blogger when it tells you that she hasn't been baking, and visit her blog anyway.
You may have noticed that I occasionally delete someone off the list of bakers. This is not like having your name erased from the family Bible. Sometimes people are just too busy or have something else going on in their lives, and find they can't be active bakers for several months. But anyone is always welcome back in the fold.
It may be a few weeks before Saira is able to bake again. Her father died, sadly and unexpectedly, and she is spending time with her family. She would appreciate it if you keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
Jennifer has started a flickr photo pool. It's for anyone who wants to share their pics of stuff they've made from RHC; they don't need to be part of the the bake-along.
She says that anyone can browse through, but only flickr members can contribute. Becoming a member is free.
Finally, on a more somber note, several of you have talked about feeling some distress at watching news of famines and suffering while you're baking cakes. I've shared that uneasy feeling of having too much when others have too little. I don't think it's a solution to the world's injustices, of which there are too many, to stop baking. But, as Vicki said, "Maybe we should find a way to turn baking into fundraising."
According to a recent Zogby poll, 64% of Americans have already given, or plan to give, money to a Haitian relief fund. I invite all of us to consider, whenever we bake a cake, how we could also give to those who don't have cake, or even bread and water.