The pineapple upside-down cake is another dessert that was almost universally liked, even though, as usual, we had many different versions. I hope that all of you looked at Mendy's blog, not just to look at the cakes he baked in his little springform pans, but also to get some insight into the holiday Tu-Bishvat, and why the new year of the trees is celebrated in Judaism. It would have been more authentic if we'd baked a pomegranate and almond cake (and Rose, I hope you'll get to work on that because it sounds delicious, but I think the pineapple-cherry combo will do.) Some people used canned pineapple and some fresh; some used frozen cherries,andd some used maraschino; some added orange.
Nancy B. and Nicola used Texas muffin pans, which seemed to work very well. Jennifer, Lisa, Vicki, Monica, and Raymond used individual ramekins, which also worked quite well. Lanier and Lois both made cupcakes, again proving that there is no cake that can't be cupcaked. And Faithy decided to ignore the "individual" part of the cakes, making hers in an 8-inch pan, as did Elaine, who made hers in a loaf pan. (Apologies if I got anybody wrong--I made some quick notes when I read through everyone's blog, and found a lot of my notes to be indecipherable).
Some kind of special Sugar Award goes to Vicki, who found that she had somehow accumulated seven different kinds of sugar in the course of her baking escapades. It sounds almost professional, doesn't it?
I'm bestowing the title of FEATURED BAKER on Hanaâ this week, because not only did she make several heart-shaped upside-down cakes, which turned out to be quite lovely, but she also did what no one else thought of--and maybe no one else has ever thought of--she used the pineapple and cherry to make a pineapple-upside-down smiley face. Another clever thing that Hanaâ did was to add the grated rind of one orange into the batter. I didn't taste it literally, but when my mental taste buds tried it, they really liked it. Finally, she weighed the batter into each individual ramekin, so the batter was evenly distributed. A scale-loving girl after my own heart!
We're finally ready for the True Orange genoise, the cake we've all been anticipating in our searches for the elusive Seville orange. Although I'd been warned that these little oranges were touchy little things and went bad overnight, I ignored the warning and found that they literally do go bad overnight. I rescued enough to make Seville orange juice, and then made the orange curd last weekend. If you're on the fence about making this cake, I recommend that you try it--or at least that you try the orange curd. Every time I opened the refrigerator this week, I heard the siren song of this orange curd, calling to me. So far I've resisted. If you like the sound of something that's rich, tangy, sour, and sweet all at the same time, you'll like the orange curd. I can't vouch for the rest of the dessert, which I haven't made yet, but I'm crazy about the orange curd.
After that, we come to the Valentine's Day chocolate cake with a ganache glaze, fresh raspberry topping, and whipped cream. If you want to make it a Valentine's Day cake, you'll want a 9-inch heart-shaped pan. You can also make it in a round cake pan, and I'm thinking that no one would refuse to be your valentine because you baked them a round chocolate cake.
Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that people have strong feelings about. I've known some people (mostly women) who got very depressed on a V-Day where they weren't seeing anyone and where the world seemed populated only by loving couples. I've also known some people (mostly men) who get angry on Valentine's Day because they believe it's a stupid, trumped-up holiday designed to extort money from them and force them to mouth romantic platitudes.
Did you know that Valentine's Day is the biggest day of the year for restaurant owners? The common wisdom is not to go out for dinner on Valentine's Day because you'll get a second-rate dinner even at a first-rate restaurant. I don't know if this is true, but I do know that Jim and I are going out for our Valentine's Day dinner the week after the actual holiday. Who cares? We'll have chocolate cake to keep us warm.
Our most recent baker is Elaine, from Brisbane, who says that baking makes her happy. She baked the upside down cakes on Friday, so I had to hold off adding her to the list for a few days so she wouldn't be ahead of everyone else. (I know there's a time difference between here and Australia, but I'm pretty sure it's not 72 hours). I like the way Elaine's blog is set up--it's very organized, with ratings of scale of difficulty and yumminess, and a final paragraph called "How did it taste?"
This brings us to 28 Heavenly Bakers. I've decided to limit the number to 30. Hanaa has a friend who is interested, so that would be 29. If we get more applicants after 30, I'll put them on a waiting list. I'd like to encourage everyone to join, but I know we all like to check out each other's cakes, and I think it would just get unwieldy to have more than about 30.
If we ever get to the point where there's a waiting list, I'll probably be more religious about enforcing the rule about baking two cakes a month, but don't worry about it yet.