There was no clear winner in the Free Choice selection. Both Lois and
Monica made the whipped cream cake. Monica found that it "transported" her to her days in Italy because it reminded her of eating gelato and watching beautiful men. Lois didn't mention being transported, but she took hers into work and served it with lemon curd, which sounds pretty transporting to me.
A different lemon cake from Nicola, who did the golden lemon almond cake, and made a brilliant rescue of the part of the cake that stuck to the pan. (Congrats on the new job!)
Both Elaine and Wafae made the classic carrot cake. Elaine thought it needed more cinnamon, and Wafae just used more cinnamon. She sprinkled the frosting with cinnamon,which, along with her fancy and fastidious decorating, made it look lovely. She decided, however, that she liked it better as cupcakes.
Jennifer did another cupcake version, but hers was of the the Rose Red Velvet Cake as cupcakes. Just as she did on the last occasion that she made a red velvet cake, she resisted all the entreaties of the people who urged her to use beet juice as a healthy alternative to red dye #40. I agree--beets belong in many things, but not in cakes.
Kristina was the third cupcake-baker: spice with peanut buttercream. Her buttercream is piped so sweetly. I'm very jealous of all these people with excellent piping skills.
Not cupcakes exactly, but Vicki made little gingerbread bundt cakes. I have to say that for someone who claims a lot of baking disasters, these bundt cakes looked very appetizing. (Vicki, the chocolate raspberry trifle is so good, and so is the red fruit shortcake!)
Toni, not satisfied with making just one cake, baked both the Manhattan Coconut Cake and another coconut cake to compare. She liked both cakes, but especially raved about the buttercream icing on Rose's cake. Mendy also went for broke and baked two different cakes: not only the Banana Refrigerator Cake, but also the Barcelona Brownie Bars. A glutton for punishment or a glutton for cake? You decide.
Lanier made the yellow cupcakes with chocolate egg white buttercream. Her icing on top of the cupcakes actually looks professional, while mine just looked blobby. She also has a piece of chocolate perched on top of the icing.
Lest you think that everyone chose one of the simpler cakes, Nancy B. tried her hand at the White Gold Passion Genoise. This has been one of my very favorite cakes, and Nancy liked it too, although she did note its "elaborate" nature, in a way that was perhaps not completely complimentary.
Raymond made the Hungarian Jancsi Torta. Raymond (whose cakes always look so inviting) loved this "simple and delicious" cake.
How did you like the Free Choice option? What best expresses your opinion:
a) I'd rather not do it again,
b) I don't mind doing it occasionally, but not regularly,
c) I'd like to repeat it regularly, say on a monthly basis, or
If there's a clear consensus, that's what we'll do. I personally thought it was fun to see everyone's choices. My only problem was that I couldn't figure out how to choose a Featured Baker when people were baking such different things, so I didn't.
Next week we're doing another quick and easy butter cake--the lemon poppyseed cake. It requires no exotic ingredients, and, although you can make it in a NordicWare heart pan (which I borrowed from Woody), you can also use any old bundt-type pan. This is a cake that's best left to mellow after you make it, so you can make it the night before and take it to work, which is what I plan to do.
To make up for next week's simple cake, be prepared for the Chocolate Apricot Roll with Lacquer Glaze the following week. If you just take it step by step, you shouldn't have any problems with it, but it does take a long time to get through all the steps. If you want to simplify it a bit, you can substitute store-bought apricot jam for the lekvar and omit the syrup.
As I've been tiresome about repeating, I'm going to Hawaii on Saturday, so I won't be answering any emails. I've made the next two cakes, and they're scheduled to be posted, so you will be hearing from me. I won't do the "Last Cake, Next Cake" posting next week (no Featured Baker next week either), but you all can still check in with each other.