This two-year project has come to an end. It began on May 31, 2009, with the Spice Cake with Peanut Buttercream, and ended on May 15, 2011 with Zach's LaBomba. In that time, I made 90-plus cakes, and liked them all. More importantly, I made some wonderful baking friends. I learned about your families, your quirks, and your aspirations (just as you learned about mine). We've seen weddings, births, job changes, house hunts, and other life-changing experiences. And every week, I got to read your blogs, and summarize your reactions to the cake of the week. Just like I'm going to do now.
Everyone liked this cake. More importantly, nobody complained about this cake. Remember all the whining about the Apple Charlotte? I do, because I was maybe the biggest whiner. But this cake--we took it in our stride. A two-day cake? No problem.
Lois, for example, thought that although "there were pages and pages of things to do," "there was nothing terribly complex in the methods used (no hot sugar flung about the kitchen)." See? This is how blase we've become: if there's no hot sugar flung about the kitchen, it's a candidate for the Q&E list.
Lola was so taken with the idea of this cake that she made it early--and she made it twice. She "prepared this several weeks ago for a dinner party. It was so exciting to make and serve that [she] made it again the next week for other guests." Two days of baking, stirring, whisking, separating, beating, pureeing, straining - this translates into "exciting to make"? Yes, if it's a "glorious dessert" that's "such a star when it is completed."
Despite a weekend for Kristina that included a trip to the ER with her husband's torn calf muscle, and her own migraine, she "just didn’t feel right missing out on baking this one with the rest of [her] baking buddies." With all of her experience, Kristina also breezed through this one: "The first step was to make the cake base. This is a flourless chocolate cake, with egg yolks and whites beaten separately, each with sugar, melted chocolate is added to the yolks, then the whites (meringue, by now) are folded into the yolk/chocolate mixture. Doesn’t sound all that complicated, when you say it like that." "Delicious," says Katrina. She also wants to try an (even) easier variation: "....use this basic recipe, minus the bottom crust and top glaze, just as a mousse/pudding type dessert in custard cups or sundae glasses."
I wasn't the only person for whom La Bomba was Last Cake. Nancy B. also celebrated her cake graduation. (If you haven't checked out her post entitled "Rose's Heavenly Cakes--All of 'em!"), do it now. It will impress you with the scope of this project, and make you want your very own cake graduation. Nancy finished this cake with her usual aplomb. But I'm a little worried about her brother and his family who have served as the tasting panel for every cake--what are they going to do without their weekly fix?
Jenn may be the only one who actually used the recommended (and "very expensive") Valrhona Manjari chocolate, although she did have "issues" with it separating, with the "cocoa butter oozing out." Unfazed, she started over, and this time all was well--except for her camera running out of battery life. Verdict: "This is really good. Very rich and chocolate-y. It's a tad too rich for me and I can only eat a small piece - which is not necessarily a bad thing. Hubby loves it, he said it's really good." As you probably know, Jenn is going to be continuing the Heavenly Cake Bakers, doing the 21 or so cakes she's still missing. If you're missing some too, join in! You probably won't have the same 21 left to do, but she's building in lots of Free Choices, so you can finish your missing cakes too.
Jane, our ambitious blogger who's set herself the goal of finishing RHC in one year, made her La Bomba a few weeks ago, and has already made three or four more. No lazy one-cake-a-week schedule for her! It would be an understatement to say that she liked this cake, which she calls The Bomb: "I'm eating a slice of this cake (I need to be careful or it will be the whole cake) while I am writing this and I am getting goosebumps with every bite that I eat. One of my roommates and I just stared at each other and shook our heads and then stared at the cake. Totally speechless."
Poor Sarah. She took La Bomba to a pool party, where it totally outclassed "the Betty Crocker brownies and Costco pies that are standard pool party fare." It "tried to fit in," she swore, really it did, but "with the very first slice, everyone knew it was different." Will Sarah's neighbors continue to invite her and her hoity-toity cakes to the pool parties? Will someone sabotage her silicone? Stay tuned to her blog, which will continue, and see what further adventures await Sarah the Bear.
Jennifer, AKA Evil Cake Lady, has been with us from the beginning, and will continue along with Jenn's "Straggler's blog." Luckily for Jennifer, she was enough of a straggler to get the benefit of Zach's (yes, the Zach of "Zach's La Bomba") permission to use a hand mixer to mix the sabayon. Although she will not develop of one perfectly toned arm from hours of whisking, she did get the benefit of the quicker, easier sabayon. She also found a cup of black lacquer glaze in her freezer (how many people have spare pints of black lacquer glaze?), so her cake--with two major shortcuts--was almost Quick and Easy. And did she like it? "The dessert is indeed a showstopper and a perfect way to show your friends exactly how awesome your baking skills have become."
Indeed, we are all awesome. So universally awesome that I can't bring myself to pick a FEATURED BAKER this week. Instead, a heartfelt tribute to Rose: writer, teacher, mentor, friend. Baking from one of Rose's cookbooks is a little like taking piano lessons from oh, say, Mozart, with the added benefit that Rose is alive.
Although it's clear from her books that she's a way better baker than you'll ever be, it's not her goal to let you know that. She wants to teach you everything she knows so that you will become the best possible baker that you can be, given your talents and limitations. And when you stumble along, Rose/Mozart doesn't point out your stumbles. She applauds your accomplishments. In the end, you bake something--a whole lot of somethings if you cook your way through a cookbook--that you would have thought was way beyond your capacities. Thanks, Rose. I can't wait for the next cookbook.
Although I just titled this post "Last Cake," there will always be Next Cakes too. Most immediately, there is the Barcelona Brownie Bar, Jenn's pick for the May 23 baking project. I've made these several times after my original BBB post of October 12, 2009. I hope you make them too--they're wonderful, with or without the ganache. The following week, Jenn et al. are set to tackle the chocolate raspberry trifle. Oh, that is so good!
But even if you don't bake along in this project, or any other project, I assume if you're reading this you've got some interest in making cakes, especially RLB cakes, and that you'll have plenty of "Next Cakes" in store for you. Bon appetit and adieu!