Dec 1, 2009

Last Cake, Next Cake

While the reviews of the Catalan Pinch Cake were mixed, the Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake got only raves: Nicola said, "This cheesecake is so seriously fantastic it is difficult to stop at just one slice." Rebecca described it as "Yummy. Scrummy. My husband loved it too." Kristina's husband loved it too, even though he "really dislikes pumpkin and doesn't have much of a sweet tooth." I think the bakers were about evenly divided over whether they liked the cheesecake better than the caramel, or the caramel better than the cheesecake, or liked them equally. It's a tough dilemma to have, but then we're all tough.

I had a hard time choosing a FEATURED BAKER this week because everyone's cakes looked so glorious and the stories were all so good, so finally, I went to my blog, closed my eyes, and pointed at the screen--and came up with Mendy. You've probably read his posts enough to know that when he bakes with dairy, he's limited to a little-bitty toaster oven, in which he manages to turn out amazing creations. This week, he found that the toaster oven wouldn't handle a springform pan, so he used mini cheesecake pans (describing his baby cheesecakes as "little guys in their metallic undies"). He also couldn't use his food processor, but the blender was ok, so he used that for both the crust and the cheesecake mix. Finally, he discovered that the heating element in the toaster oven makes toasting nuts a little dicey, but he persevered after one batch of "blackened pecans." His "burnt noisette" also took him two tries, but he did it. If you haven't read it already, take a look at his blog to appreciate his indomitable spirit and also his adorable daughter, Chava.

Do you have your glaceed fruits soaking in rum? I bought lemon rind, orange rind, cherries, and golden raisins at my local grocery store, and am watching them growing plump and happy. I finally decided to buy the wreath pan; it's quite large and relatively shallow, so I can see why Rose recommends against substituting a bundt pan--by the time it baked through, the crust might be overdone. A couple of loaf pans would be a good substitute, and maybe this recipe would work in cupcake pans as little fruit gems. Now that I know that I'm not going to be the lone fruitcake baker (or the lone fruitcake), I can rest easy and just wait to see what you come up with.
If you want to look ahead, check out the directions and pictures for the Holiday Pinecone Cake. This recipe, with its fondant and its elaborate decorations, takes me so far out of my comfort zone that my kitchen may resemble a medieval torture chamber. If any of you look at this recipe and say, "This will be fun!" instead of "this will be a disaster," feel free to hand out some advice on how to proceed.


Mendy said...


Wow! So fun. Thank you for featuring me Marie.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Way to go Mendy! I always get a kick out of your posts. Love the pics of your kids too - Chava and little Mr. Ez Man. Soooo cute!

Nicola said...

Excellent work Mendy! You are the master of the toaster oven - I will now be quiet about my rubbish (full sized) oven.

Holiday Pine Cone-yes, I agree Marie, it looks like torture. 7 - 10 minutes baking time, about 12 hours to decorate. Luckily pine cones do look a bit random in nature, so there will be a fair bit of room for "interpretation".

Can't hardly wait.

anitsirK said...

I'm skipping the fruitcake. I know I probably shouldn't, because there's been a couple of cakes so far that either hubby or I or both have said "I'm not really sure that sounds good" and it's turned out fantastic, but... I just have a hard time believing fruitcake will be one of those. Looking forward to seeing all of your creations, though!

See you for the carrot cake!

Hanaâ said...

I'll be skipping the fruitcake too. The only thing close to fruitcake I like to eat in moderation is European-style stollen with a large chunk of almond filling in the middle. Now that I think of it, it's actually a yeast bread, so it's not that close to this week's fruitcake :o) Looking forward to seeing your fruitcakes, and I'll meet with you again for the carrot cake.

As for the pine cone cake... the only thing that "scares" me is the fondant. I've worked with marzipan before but never with fondant. If I run out of time, I'm contemplating using choc frosting and sliced almonds for the petals (I remember seeing something like that in the Cake Bible).

NancyB said...

Yay, Mendy! I too admire all you manage to do with a toaster oven.

I'm attempting the fruitcake, sort of. No glaceed fruits, 'cause no one in the family eats them. (Though someday I ought to try the gourmet-quality ones.) Instead I'm using the Alton Brown 'free range fruitcake' idea of mixed dried fruits, candied ginger, and citrus zest, and that's what I've got soaking in dark rum. I'll be doing another half-recipe, so I'll try my 6-cup tube pan for the baking.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

I'm going to skip the fruitcake too. I know there are many who love them, and Rose probably has the most delicious recipe around, but I've never been a fan of candied fruit (even fruit I've candied myself), so I'll sit this one out.

I might instead make the salt pinch cake - I had all the ingredients weighed out last week, but Thanksgiving baking got in the way and I ended up not getting around to making it.

Louise said...

A thought about the Holiday Pinecone Cake. I know this is straying from bring a purist, but you can purchase chocolate fondant and it tastes like a toostie pop! If the cake looks overwhelming, this may just make it possible.

faithy said...

Mendy deserved to be featured! I've learnt from Mendy that IT IS possible to bake in a toaster oven! :)

Initially wasn't sure if i would bake the fruitcake but i got my fruits soaked just in case i want to make them. Now i can't seem to find the time to bake it! I'm going for vacation next week for almost 10 days..thus trying to clear my work & clear some stuff before i leave..but i've baked the carrot cake's yummy! My post is on scheduled for auto posting. :)

i'm probably going to take the lazy way out and use the RTR chocolate fondant. i've used it before and it tastes quite yummy (i think is the same one that Rose recommended in her book). This fondant doesn't have the fake chocolate taste which i absolutely hate.

Marie said...

Thanks for the tips about the fondant, and the reminder (very helpful!) that nature's pinecones aren't perfect! I'm going to keep that in mind. I do feel duty-bound to at least try making the fondant. Who knows how it will turn out?

Vicki said...

I always look forward to seeing how Mendy's creations turn out.

...."lone fruitcake baker (or the lone fruitcake)," Too funny Marie! I don't know who was more excited, the gal behind the counter weighing out the glaced fruit or me giggling at the thought of making fruitcake.

Rebecca said...

As I said in my post, we don't celebrate
Thanksgiving in Australia, but I've had cause in the last few days to reflect and be thankful for what I've got. My husband's brother died on Tuesday in a motorcycle accident in Egypt. We're all so shocked and devastated. My husband is heartbroken and I still just can't believe it has happened. My husband is in Egypt now and I'm here with the kids. It's so difficult to be apart at a time like this.

I am still going to bake this week. I need something to do and baking makes me feel just a little bit better... or at least, it keeps me busy. My fruit is soaking now and my kids are safely sleeping in their beds... feeling thankful, but very sad.

Marie said...

My sympathy and thoughts are with you. What terrible news for you and your family. I hope that baking provides you some solace, or at least some grounding, and I hope your email prompts us all to give a little extra thanks for what we have and reflection on the transitory nature of it.

Alpha Baker Joan said...

Mendy - what ingenious ideas you have! And look what you are able to do. Great work! joan

Mendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mendy said...


Thank you all for your nice comments about me and my toaster.

Heartfelt condolences to Rebecca.

NancyB said...

Is anyone else a Google Calendar user? I decided it might help me plan my baking if I put the upcoming cakes into a calendar, and I made it public in case others find it useful, too. It's called the Heavenly Cakes Bake-Along calendar. (Hope that link works!) For cakes we've already done, I've tried to link to Marie's post in the event title.

I've got this showing in my main Google calendar display along with my other calendars, which helps with planning like "oh, maybe I should bake this cake for the office party week after next".

Marie, if people start using this and you'd like to take over adding the upcoming cakes to it, I can give you access to it.

Marie said...

I love your calendar! I especially like that it's easy to see all the cakes we've already baked, which I think is very impressive.
I don't think I need access to it--I'm afraid that I'd forget to update it, so I'll just look at yours.
You've written a good endorsement of the usefulness of the Google calendar display. I'm going to try to start making better use of it.