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.