Apr 28, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

The big news for Rose's followers is, of course, that Rose's Heavenly Cakes was selected the IACP's Cookbook of the Year. (That is the International Association of Culinary Professionals, not the International Association of Chiefs of Police). In winning this award, Rose is in some pretty good company: former winners include Richard Bertinet's Simple Contemporary Breads, Alice Medrich for Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart, The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller, and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Rose herself won the Baking and Desserts category in 1989 for The Cake Bible (that was before the Cookboook of the Year category was established). Publishers' Weekly calls her a "baking powerhouse," the LA Times calls her a "baking goddess," and Powell's Books calls her a "baking legend." She is all those things, as well as a wonderful person and an encouraging teacher. Congratulations, Rose!

Despite the fact that one of Rose's trademarks is her meticulous and detailed instructions, no one, including me, followed her recommendation to use the mini angel-food cake pans. In fact, my faux angel food, with the center hole added after the fact, was the closest. Nancy B. used mini Maryann pans. (Good choice, Nancy! Vicki's utensils of choice were miniature bundt pans. Kristina and Svetlana used  full-sized tube pans. Elaine and Mendy made cupcakes. Hanaa made hers in a springform pan. Saira used loaf pans, and she cut the loaf into layers (she called it a "baking disaster," but it didn't look very disastrous to me). Raymond's Christmas pudding mold was definitely the fanciest version. (By the way, Raymond does admit that this is quite a specialty pan "for someone who constantly complains about specialty pans," but says he gets a lot of use out of it.)

I had such a hard time this week deciding on a FEATURED BAKER. There was so much variety in the cakes and frosting, and all the variations looked delicious. But as soon as I saw Svetlana's entry, I knew it had to be her. Not that Svetlana's cake didn't deserve to be featured in its own right, but my heart went out to her for reasons unrelated to the cake. First, she started baking the minute she got back in the house after returning from a two-week vacation. You have to admire that dedication. Second, and most importantly, she upped the whipped cream by 150% just to make sure there was plenty for all true whipped cream lovers. As a dyed-in-the-wool whipped cream worshipper, I appreciate that thought. And third, I totally identified with her finishing her cake 20 minutes before guests arrived! I have a real habit of finishing the last steps of dessert with one eye on the clock, hoping that people won't arrive 5 minutes early. It's a bad habit, but it usually works out for me, and it worked out for Svetlana, even though she didn't have time to grate the chocolate on top.

I sense a lot of enthusiasm for the upcoming trifle, and I'm looking forward to seeing who bakes the cake and who tackles the spun sugar. I still haven't decided whether or not I'm going to do it. It might depend on whether I run out of time before guests arrive. After we struggle with thae trifle, and I do anticipate a bit of a struggle, we'll have a nice break with the Gateau Breton. Even though it has a French name and resembles a French pastry, I have it on good authority that it's a breeze to make.
Our next Free Choice week will be May 31. That is my birthday week, and I said to Jim, "Don't you think it would be nice for you to make my birthday cake for me so I don't have to?" He looked at me to see whether I'd lost my mind, and tried to figure out a way to escape from the conversation. When I told him it would be my fondest dream, he reluctantly agreed, but told me it would taste and look like crap.
This little adventure on Jim's part will be a real test of Rose's ability to lead the reluctant baker to greatness. I guess I'll have to take the pictures.


NancyB said...

Congrats to Svetlana. Her mound of whipped cream looked wonderful.

The spun sugar for the trifle would be interesting, but between the expected mess, the effort, and the Georgia humidity, I'm leaning against trying it.

And, oh, I'm so looking forward to Jim's cake-baking!

faithy said...

I'm hoping i'll feel better by this weekend.. Can i make my trifle in a glass mixing bowl instead? lol! Been looking around can't find trifle bowl at all! :(

Marie said...

Nancy B.,
Sounds like anyone who lives in a humid climate should not bother with the spun sugar, except maybe in the dead of winter. I'm looking forward to Jim's b'day cake too!

You can make your trifle in anything you want--I borrowed a glass trifle bowl from Woody, and that's the only reason mine will be in one.

Jenn said...

Congrats Svetlana! Marie, I love your guideline on choosing the featured baker. Very fun!
I'm so looking forward to Jim's cake baking. Everyone will. Uh oh, now he won't be able to back out of it! He's such a good spirit to agree to (even though reluctantly).
I was torn regarding making the trifle and spun sugar. But after reading your post I might do it anyway. I don't have a trifle bowl either so will have to improvise. Oh dear, hopefully it won't be a disaster.

Vicki said...

I loved Svetlana's whipped cream covered cake. She definitely hit it on the mark. And any extra dulce de leche is welcome in espresso a la Evil Cake Lady.

"International Association Chief of Police"....that is so funny! Because there definitely is such a thing, as my deputy brother in law travels the globe collecting memorabilia. I can't wait to see the cake Jim bakes. Do you get to choose which cake? But more importantly, who has to do the washing up?

Lois B said...

Congrats to Rose on Cookbook of the Year! It's certainly the most used at my house. :)

And to Svetlana! Such post-holiday ambition and a beautiful cake.

I made the trifle last weekend for my mother's birthday cake. The flavors are wonderful, but my spun sugar needs a little work, as you'll see.

Anonymous said...

Marie, how far in advance can we spin the sugar? Also, how do you serve a trifle, do you actually slice it or just scoop it out?

Mendy said...


Congrats Svetlana on being the featured baker!

I made the spun sugar and it was a rainy day. I guess a little bit of humidity doesn't hurt. It was also easier than I thought it would be. Fun too!

Can't wait for Jim to be the guest baker.


Monica said...

Congratulations all around the place.. to Rose for her award (HELLO was there any doubt that this was an award book???) And of course to Svetlana.. I have to agree her whipped cream look dreamy!

And i'm so ready to do the trifle... I have something up my sleeve, it it works, it will be a first for me.

Happy baking and spining everyone!

evil cake lady said...

congrats svetlana! and of course, congrats to rose and woody!

marie, i cannot wait to see your birthday cake! i hope you do get a lot of good photos!

i finished all the extra dulce cream this morning...it was a bittersweet moment.

jini said...

oh my goodness.....jim the heavenly baker. i hope he delivers a sample taste to my neck of the woods. :)

Marie said...

I think the spun sugar is pretty delicate and unstable. If I make it, it won't be much ahead of time. I believe it can be gathered together and shaped a few hours ahead of serving time. I've never tried slicing a trifle, but you do want to try to get the layers to come out more or less intact for a prettier presentation.

Can't wait to see all the photos of this trifle! So far, we know we'll get spun sugar stories at least from Lois and Mendy. And that Monica has something up her sleeve.

Your leftover dulce de leche lasted about a week longer than mine!

Jenn said...

I'm happy to report that there will be spun sugar stories from me. I made the trifle today.