This was definitely a fall-themed Free Choice week, with lots of people being attracted by apples, pumpkin, and spice.
Both Vicki ("lovely cake for this time of year") and Lola ("a good keeper recipe") made the apple-cinnamon coffee cake. What could be better on a chilly November day?
Well, maybe an apple upside-down cake, which is what both Lynnette ("easy to like") and Hanaa ("Hubby liked this cake a lot. He gave it a 9 out of 10") made.
And, of course, apples aren't the only fall fruit--and Shandy made good use of fall pears with her Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake ("The cake is moist, the almond and pear combination delicious; I will be baking this cake again.")
Like Shandy, Andrea didn't have to go very far back to find the cake she wanted to make--the highly praised Bostini. You can now add Andrea to the list of The Bostini's devoted followers: ("Daniel and I both really loved this one. It certainly lived up to the rave reviews").
Katya was attracted to the pumpkin cake (in a bundt cake pan instead of the pumpkin-shaped pan pictured in the book). In fact, she was so attracted to the pumpkin cake that she and her tasters thought it outshone the burnt orange silk meringue buttercream frosting, even though the frosting was "more addictive" than she expected (she likes making frosting more than eating it). Rachelino, who had opted for a simple glaze the first time she made the pumpkin cake, decided to tackle the burnt orange etc. frosting ("ranks high for flavor with its notes of citrus and caramel") this time.
Jennifer was also attracted to pumpkin, but she took it in a different direction, with the pure pumpkin cheesecake ("the texture was impossibly light and fluffy"). Julie tried another cheesecake appropriate to fall: the ginger cheesecake. When I made this cheesecake, I passed on the cute but optional gingerbread girls and boys that could decorate the sides of the cheesecake. Julie made them, though, and I'll admit they're so precious that they probably justify the work.
Raymond's yen for autumnal spice flavors led him to the first cake I baked from Rose's Heavenly Cakes: the spice cake with peanut buttercream ("When I was a child the smell of a spice cake baking in the kitchen always screamed out fall, thanksgiving, turkey").
And, in the spirit of winter coming on, Nancy B. transformed the "She Loves Me Cake" (a cake that just said "spring" to me) into a great seasonally appropriate cake with the use of a snowflake pan. By the way, Nancy is only eight cakes behind me: that is, she has (I'm pretty sure) baked every cake since the group started baking together, and she's done enough catching up so that there are only eight cakes left that I've baked and she hasn't. I plan to schedule a Free Choice week about once a month through the end of this project, which I anticipate will end sometime in May, so, Nancy, if you sneak in an extra cake here and there, we'll end at the same time!
Mendy did another cake that says "spring" to me--the Golden Lemon Almond Cake.
Jenn did a catch-up (Black Chocolate Party Cake) plus a preview (White Velvet Butter Cake) for her Free Choice week. Sad to say, she wasn't crazy about the chocolate cake, which she described as being "too dense" for her taste (although this remark led other readers, who like dense cakes, to say they now wanted to try it). As they say, Chacun a son gout.
Jenn also gets a mention on the small list of people who baked cakes for Free Choice week that did not, strictly speaking, follow the rules of Free Choice Week (a cake that has been baked before, either by the group or by me, but not yet baked by you).
Jenn went to the Ethereal Pear Charlotte, the kissing cousin of the Apple Caramel Charlotte that caused some of us to swear off baking (or at least to swear). The Pear Charlotte is from The Cake Bible, and Jenn's rendition looks perfect.
Joan had made Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake (or WLLLC, as she affectionately terms it) months ago, but returned to it in spectacular fashion when she made it, decorated beautifully with fresh flowers, for her daughter's 50th birthday.
And Sarah, not in catch-up mode, baked ahead, giving us all a nice preview of the Southern Manhattan Coconut Cake, which she actually turned into two smaller cakes.
Next week--and the baking weekend is coming up very soon--we turn to the all-American flavors of chocolate and peanut butter, fancied up with a Chambord-flavored syrup. For some reason, when I was claiming that this Chocolate Genoise with Peanut Butter Whipped Ganache required no exotic equipment or ingredients, I overlooked the fact that the syrup has Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur, as an ingredient. I'm sure there are many things you could substitute, but I'm interested to see how black raspberry blends with peanut butter. I guess you could think of it as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on chocolate bread.
The following week brings more complexities. Whenever I see a piping bag, it sends chills down my spine. The piping bag comes in with the homemade ladyfingers, made for the Lemon Canadian Crown. If you choose to make the ladyfingers, this is another two-fer. You'll be able to cross two recipes off your list in the same weekend. Of course, you can also buy the ladyfingers and eliminate the whole trauma of the piping bag, but I plan to soldier on, even though I'm expecting some rather wobbly-looking ladyfingers. Perhaps they'll look more like peasant-woman-fingers.
I'm sorry I couldn't give you a more obviously appropriate Thanksgiving dessert, but I actually think either of these desserts would be lovely for Thanksgiving, if your family wouldn't throw a fit at the idea of a pumpkin pie substitute. Even so, I'm seeing the Lemon Canadian Crown as a welcome adjunct to the traditional pies. And if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, there is no reason to protest.