First, the results of the poll:
These results were very surprising to me. I expected some clear winners, but there were none. In fact, of the first three people who sent me their choices (that's 15 cakes), there were no duplicates. In all, 37 cakes got at least one vote as someone's favorite! I think that shows the depth of this cookbook--it doesn't just have a few great recipes and a lot of chaff. It's got a lot of great recipes.
If you were like me, you found it very hard to get down to just five favorite cakes. I went through the cookbook and was ruthless about picking only the best of the best. That gave me a list of about 15 from which to cull. I made some fairly arbitrary decisions and picked my final five, but I could have had a different list of five that would still have been accurate as being favorites.
One Cake got Four Votes:
St. Honore Trifle
Five Cakes got Three Votes:
Almond Shamah Chiffon
Coconut Cheesecake with Coconut Cookie Crust
Lemon Sour Cream Poppy Seed
Pumpkin Cake with Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream
Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake
Fourteen Cakes got Two Votes:
Apple Caramel Charlotte
Apple/Peach Upside Down Cake (one vote for each)
Chocolate Banana Studcake
Chocolate Ice Cream Cake or Sandwich
Golden Lemon Almond Cake
Lemon Meringue Cake
Plum and Blueberry Upside-Down Torte
Plum Round Ingots
Torta de las Tres Leches
Whipped Cream Cake
Woody's Lemon Luxury Cake
Sixteen Cakes Got One Vote
Baby Chocolate Oblivions
Baby Lemon Cheesecakes
Chocolate Apricot Roll with Lacquer Glaze
Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake
Chocolate Tweed Angel Cake
Classic Carrot Cake
Coffee Chiffonlets with Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream
Chocolate Feather Bed
Deep Chocolate Passion
Double Chocolate Valentine
Marble Velvet Cake
Sicilian Pistachio Cake
Strawberry Chocolate Layer Cake with Miss Irene Thompson's Fudge Frosting
Sybil's Pecan Torte with Coffee Whipped Cream
True Orange Genoise
White Gold Passion Genoise
And one cake that we haven't officially baked yet got one vote:
I certainly owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Rose for providing Jim, me, our guests, and neighbors with so much delicious eating, and for stretching me w-a-a-y beyond my comfort level in each new challenge. (Spun sugar!? No way!) Thanks, Rose.
And now, back to this week's cake, the Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes. Although some people said they didn't like the whole lava cake craze, we had good participation this week...so somebody must like them. It was Maria's (from Michigan) first official post as a Heavenly Cake Baker. Although Maria professes herself to be a "total lava cake snob," she was pleased with how this one turned out.
Although this cake isn't on the Q&E list, most people commented on how quick and easy it was to put together. Lois, for example, said it "came together easily - much easier than the cakes I've been watching my HCB pals prepare the last couple of weeks." Raymond wasn't crazy about the intensely chocolate cakes, and he didn't like the egg carton instructions, but he praised the "really simple" cake batter. In fact, Mendy thought they were so easy that he thought there would be no need for his wife and him to go out for dinner to order them: "we can stay home indefinitely. Or, maybe we can just order something else. ;). Plus, he thought they were "delish."
Even Katya, who didn't want to like them because she disapproves of the whole molten lava cake craze, thought they were easy. And, though she was hoping not to make them or to like them, concluded, "They were pretty good. Hmph."
Poor Jennifer had so much trouble with the ganache that, after swearing at it for hours, she was finally led to class this cake under her "failure" subheading. (It didn't look like a failure to me, but then I wasn't swearing at my ganache).
Faithy didn't swear at her ganache--in fact, she liked the way it hardened quickly and efficiently in the freezer, but she thought her lava cakes were "ugly," and maybe too bitter for someone who doesn't like dark chocolate. But no worries, since she's not one of those misguided people herself.
Vicki also thought they were a bit too chocolatey, although she's the "queen of dark chocolate," but what she really loved was the smell: "If I was staging an open house for sale, this is what I'd have baking in the oven!"
Some other snapshot reviews:
Lola: "Delicious," ... but they "didn't look like Rose's photo."
Gartblue: "Tasted heavenly. My lava didn't quite flow,but then again, I had problems making and shaping them into balls. Instead I squeezed them into balls instead. *cringe* But I love these."
Shandy: "I was not over excited about the chocolate flavor and my ganache was not oozing out like Rose's. I did like how fast these little cakes went together and nothing stuck to the bottom of my cake cups."
Nancy: "It was unanimous--these are really good."
Andrea: "Given my issues with the ganache I would say they turned out okay, but there really wasn't much lava to them." [Andrea was comparing these cakes to ones she'd eaten in Hawaii on her honeymoon--probably no other cake will ever compare to the ones she remembers with love-misted fondness.]
Julie: "I thought that it was a nice cake texture and really loved the soft ganache inside."
Overall, there was a lot of enthusiasm for these little cakes--even from people who didn't make them. Several bakers said they didn't like the idea of eating undercooked cake batter, so deliberately decided to give these a miss. When they discovered that the lava was actually warmed ganache, though, they said they thought they'd try them after all--some other time.
Every now and then, I confess, I choose the week's FEATURED BAKER
for totally arbitrary and capricious reasons. This is one of those times. Not that Sarah didn't deserve the title for her pretty cake or her description of the "ethereal, melt on the tongue crumb that I’m beginning to associate with the Rose Levy Beranbaum brand." But honestly, what did me in was her tribute to her mother, on her birthday: "She has the looks of a schoolgirl, even though she just became a grandmother for the third and fourth time. She’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, and I hope to have her patience, zest for life, and Michelle Obama arms when I’m 60." Nice, huh?
If you didn't vote in this week's poll, don't worry--we'll do another one at the end of the project.
And speaking of the "end of the project," do you want me to start building in more "Free Choice" weeks? Some of you are so close to being able to finish at the same time I do--you can probably do it if you have a few more weeks to catch up. I've been scheduling a free choice about every three months, but I could step it up to once every two months, or even once a month. Just let me know your preference.
I know you're thinking, will this woman ever stop writing? Is there an end to this post? The end is coming right up.
Next cake: quick, easy, healthy, dairy-free. Just make sure you have a ripe banana, some instant oatmeal, and grated vegetables. (Real vegetables, not the ones in soup). Rose says "everyone adores" this bread/cake. Let's hope we prove her right.