Dec 23, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

Free Choice week is like going down Memory Lane for me.  I love reading about peoples' discovery of the recipes I've already made--makes me feel like The Old Baker who says, I remember when I made that Tiramisu back in 2009.  Those were the days.
I also have noticed that most of the recipes picked for Free Choice week tend to be from the Quick & Easy list.  This makes sense to me because why would you voluntarily make a lot of trouble for yourself?

For example, both Mendy and Andrea made the Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake. If you like coconut at all, how can you nut be tempted by a cake that has both "heavenly" and "seduction" in its name? Andrea decorated it beautifully, although she kind of apologized for just using her "standard shells and rosettes"--don't know how to break this to you, Andrea, but there are some households where shells and rosettes are not standard. Mendy doubled the recipe, for a tall, lovely layer cake, and said that his guests commented on how "fancy" it looked.
Gartblue made the Golden Lemon Almond cake, also on the Q&E list. She was actually sure that she had already made it; but then, checking her blog, realized that it was still on her to-do list. How much did she like it? Here's her response: "Whatever possessed me to make the Holiday Pinecone cake and miss this?" Hmmm. I have noticed that no one has done the Holiday Pinecone cake for a Free Choice week.
Jenn did the Spice Cake with Peanut Buttercream--on the Q&E list and the first cake that I did from Heavenly Cakes. But Jenn doesn't get full credit for doing a cake from the Q&E list because she also made Whoopie Pies, for a double catch-up week. Check out Jenn's Heavenly Cake List, in which she gives the full list of cakes to bake with the ones she's already baked crossed out. Congratulations, Jenn!
I thought at first that Vicki also did a double catch-up because she blogged about two cakes as well: the Deep Chocolate Rosebuds and the Fruitcake. But it turns out that the fruitcake is a repeat: it has already become an annual event at Vicki's house.
Lois salso did the Fruitcake Wreath, but it was brand new to her, and she was doubtful about the whole fruitcake thing: "I haven't eaten fruitcake since I was a child, and my memories mainly involve disappointment. Shouldn't a cake have frosting? And even in its candied version, I couldn't understand why anyone would eat citrus peel." But she gave it a try, and was glad she did--she likes it so much she's been eating it for breakfast.
Raymond and Jennifer both did the Apple Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake, which I assumed was on the Q&E list, but, try as I might, I couldn't find it on the list. I have no idea why it isn't, especially since Raymond said he chose it out of "pure laziness" and Jennifer has already made various incarnations of this cake from The Cake Bible. Of course, both of them liked it--how can you not like a sour cream coffee cake filled with apples and topped with crumbs?
Not everyone went the Quick and Easy route--a few took detours off to, for example, Tiramisu-land and Bostini-ville.
Nancy is not a big fan of tiramisu, but she definitely liked this, as did one of her tasters who considers herself a connoisseur of tiramisu. And Hanaa was thrilled that she finally got a make the Bostini that had received such rave reviews. She made it three different ways, and liked all three.
Katya was finally able to work in the Torta de las Tres Leches at her parents's house. She said, "The tasting panel was enthusiastic, although they refused to write down pithy, witty commentary on an index card, citing exhaustion. Several did, however, reach for a second slice." I have that same problem with Tasting Panels--they're eager enough to eat the cake but but balk at being required to come up with pithy, witty comments.
Kristina resisted the Q&E temptation and tackled one of the more complicated cakes ("really fussy" is how she put it): the Chocolate Featherbed--and did a bang-up job. You should see the thin, beautiful layers she carefully made. Kristina's post is also noteworthy in that she therein confesses to a secret vice (that is no longer secret).

I have the good luck to have already made the next two cakes on the list: the Cranberry Crown Cheesecake and the Chocolate Bulls'-Eye Cakes. (I had two parties to go to, and said I'd bring dessert to both). I know that many of you will be super busy the next few weeks, but don't miss these cakes! The cheesecake is one of Rose's patented light-but-rich cheesecakes, and it's absolutely beautiful in a ladyfinger crown.
And don't be put off by the four components in the Bulls'-Eye Cakes. All components are easy to make, and come together to make an impressive, delicious dessert. I used my MaryAnn pan (which is nice, but not essential), and I was very glad that I had it--the chocolate filling (superb!) fits perfectly in the indentation made by the pan.

Happy Solstice, everyone!  At least everyone living in the northern hemisphere.  Maybe you can't quite tell it yet, but days are starting to get longer at last.  You can't say spring is right around the corner, but I think you can believe that it's a possibility.


Monica said...

I made the Chocolate Streusel Coffee cake.. did not make the cut in the recap *sad face*.. I have to confess I originally thought of making the pine cone cake.. but life happen and I got distracted with other stuff, so I went the lazy route. but, like you said Marie.. it was like going down memory lane and oh how fun... :)

Marie said...

I was foiled by the software--when I posted "LC,NC" the latest post from you was, according to the "Heavenly Cake Bakers" column, your pork chop menu. It's still up now. Sorry--you know I love to read your posts!

Lois B said...

It's so much fun to see and take inspiration from the free choice baking.

I, too, have made the next two cakes for a Christmas and a birthday party - both received rave reviews.

ButterYum said...

No time to bake this busy week, so I reposted last year's tiny gingerbread cake houses that I made. Loved making those and am sorry I didn't have time to do them again this year.

Hope you have a wonder holiday weekend, Marie!

Andrea said...

The shells and rosettes have just recently become my standard. You should see my attempt at just piping text and stars from a year ago. It's not very impressive. I had plans to make some royal icing poinsettias for the coconut cake, but time ran out.

I'm looking forward to making the cheesecake tomorrow. I'm taking that for Christmas lunch at my mom's house.

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

darling marie! thank you for all your brilliant, yes witty/pithy and in depth summaries. now i have to follow the link to each and every blog to see what everyone has done. what fun it is for woody and me to relive all the many trials in the effort to approach perfection.
elliott and i are in hope for the holidays but unbelievably i forgot to water the plants so we have to drive all the way back to ny just for that and the day before xmas no less.

wishing all a wonderful holiday.

PS i was toying with the idea of putting the cinnamon crumb cake on the quick and easy but making those crumbs makes it a bit less than quick so i didn't dare. but it is one of my top favorites of all time. you can tell my favorites by how often they reappear in subsequent books s i keep finding a slightly better way to make them! (i hope you agree) and wait til you see the sticky buns in the next book. finally i have arrived at my idea of total perfection.

anitsirK said...

Does anyone know offhand exactly what the instructions mean for the base of the cranberry crown cheesecake? I know I could make the base biscuit from the Charlotte, but it would come with some extras after cutting out the base. Plus I have some egg whites that need using up -- not yolks. The recipe mentions angel food cake, which appeals to me, but I'm not sure how I would do it. Do I take one (or more) angel food "base" recipes and bake it in an 8 or 9 inch round layer pan?

Katya said...

one of my tasting panel later pointed out that I had not actually handed out the index cards, and therefore I was at fault if the witty pithiness was not brought.

Monica said...

Marie.. I figure it was something like that, because I don't even see the update on your blog side bar... but not to worry... I know you read them :)

Anonymous said...

"Hmmm. I have noticed that no one has done the Holiday Pinecone cake for a Free Choice week."

I love you, Marie :-)

Merry Christmas to you, your family, and all the wonderful bakers here.

Laura NYC

anitsirK said...

The blog sidebar only shows the latest post from any blog. So, if you post again after posting your weekly cake, but before any given person scrolls through the list, your Heavenly Cakes Post won't be there when they read it.

I've subscribed to all the blogs in google reader, so I read all of everyone's posts anyway... at least eventually. ;)

Can anyone answer my question about using the angel food cake recipe for the cheesecake base? Thanks!

Marie said...

I used ladyfingers for the base. If you're going to use ladyfingers for the side, I'd just use those for the base. If you want to use angel food, I don't think it matters what shape pan you use, because you could just cut pieces and fit them into the bottom of the pan. I had a few spaces between ladyfinger pieces, and it didn't seem to matter.

Mendy said...


anitserK: I used lady fingers for the bottom as well.