May 5, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

The intrepid band of bakers who tackled the Saint-Honore Trifle were all rewarded with a fantastic dessert and with beautiful pictures. There's not a single version that didn't turn out to be spectacular! And that's very good, because it would have been a sad experience to put this much time and effort into something second-rate. Nothing second-rate about this trifle, and if there's ever a name that fails utterly to describe, it's "trifle." A mere trifle? Hardly. A little bagatelle? Not bloodly likely. This was a full-blown Dessert of Great Significance. It was also an extremely photogenic cake, with each version more beautiful than the last.

The only problem with such a dessert is trying to figure out who should be the Featured Baker? Surely, I thought, after reading the first Trifle post, it will have to be Raymond, whose trifle bowl, perfectly piped whipped cream, and ripe red strawberries looked dreamy on his white lace tablecloth. Case closed. Except then I saw Faithy's, which was square, and fit into a disposable plastic container, making it very practical and no less gorgeous. But wait! Jenn has just posted hers, and she has pictures of her individual servings in wine glasses, with wisps of spun sugar atop. It looks like a cover photograph in a food magazine.
I am convinced--until I read Mendy's. I award Mendy extra points for making his sponge cakes in a toaster oven, and for the closeups of the spun sugar manufacture. It doesn't hurt that he's got the pictures of Chavi and Shayna--those always melt my heart.
I go to bed undecided.
Then I wake up to see Lois's version. I love her "bad hair day" spun sugar, and I definitely want to highlight the wonderful kaleidoscope picture taken by a friend. It's all but decided, and then I look at Vicki's post: From the charming first sentence--"Saint-Honore Trifle brings to mind Buckingham Palace, the Queen's Annual Tea Party, big hats and flowery dresses," to the first use of her 30-year-old trifle bowl, to the granddaughter cheering her on with her spun sugar target practice, I love it all.
However, next comes Kristina, and I definitely must honor her caramel "doo-dads," as well as her individual trifles made in old-fashioned ice cream sundae glasses. Oh no! Speaking of individual trifles, here comes Katya, who not only made hers in Abe Lincoln glasses, but who also went hog-wild on delicious-sounding substitutions: candied cherries, Campari, Ugandan vanilla beans. You've got to admire that kind of creativity.
I didn't know what to do. Should I just put everyone's name in a hat and draw? Then I looked at the last blog--Monica's--and realized that not only had she made a beautiful trifle, but she'd also had enough nerve to make a video of herself making spun sugar. And, mind you, this was the first time she'd made spun sugar! And yet, she manages to come off as an expert, and I loved Tom's technique as a videographer--a closeup of, while intoning, "Messy," and then on the spun sugar itself, saying, "Pretty!" Monica sums it up when she thanks Rose for taking us out of our comfort level with this dessert and rewarding us with an outstanding dessert for our effort. So, although every person who wrote about this trifle was more than deserving, I hereby dub Monica the FEATURED BAKER of the week.

We can only stay outside our comfort level for so long. And next week, although we're trying something I've never made before, I'm relieved by the fact that it's on the Quick-and-Easy list and it does not have umpteen components. It's the Gateau Breton, described as a "cross between shortbread and pound cake." I love shortbread! I love pound cake! And, "it is exceptionally quick and easy to prepare." I love quick and easy!
Back to the Baby Cakes chapter the following week, with Baby Lemon Cheesecake. This recipe specifies silicone muffin pans, but says you can also use aluminum pans. And, if you don't want to bother with the cake layer at the base of the cheesecake, you can simply omit it and have a plain cheesecake. And if you don't want to bother making lemon curd, even though it's so delicious, you could take another shortcut by using good store-bought lemon curd. Any more shortcakes, and you might as well buy a frozen Sara Lee cheesecake.
You may have been scared off by the trifle, but if you were, come on back and try one of these easier cakes.


faithy said...

Yay! Congrats to Monica, i love her video! And i definitely think she deserves to be the featured baker!
And Marie, i love your write ups always so witty with words!

Monica said...

Once more what an honor to received kudus from you Marie... And I totally understand your predicament this week in choosing one person, because I know how hard it was, since I read everyone post too.

So I'm taking my feature baker and split it up into pieces and sharing it with each and everyone that tried this recipe, because we all left our comfort level together and became all daring bakers so it's only fitting that we all share it together as well. Including you Marie!

I would also like to thank each and everyone for sharing this experience, I love this group, love that we encourage, praise and help each other along the way. The internet is such an awesome thing, to bring us all together from all parts in the world and created such friendships.


Katya said...

Can't watch videos at work, so I didn't watch the sugar spin yet, but I'll be there...and I've already made the Gateau Breton (and remembered to take pictures, a minor miracle), so I'll probably go back to making ice cream this weekend. No hardship there.

evil cake lady said...

congrats to monica! all of your trifles were beautiful and looked delicious.

anitsirK said...

I thought the cutest part of the video was where Tom pointed the camera at Monica and said "pretty!" :)

Jenn said...

Marie, you definitely have a way with words - you never cease to amaze me. This is a wonderful write up again! Congrats to Monica!!! The video was so great and fun to watch.
I've made the Baby Lemon Cheesecake, and guys you don't want to miss this one - even if you are not a cheesecake fan. I'll leave it at that :).

Vicki said...

Monica's video was fantatic! So much fun to watch. Always love her photos.

Great write up Marie. You make us all feel quite special, success or fiasco!

Mendy said...


Congrats Monica! Well deserved.

Lois B said...

Way to go, Monica! Great post and video. :)

I always looks forward to your write-ups, Marie. You really kept the suspense building this week.

Like Katya, I've already made the Gateau Breton. My daughter had not expected to enjoy a cake without frosting, but it passed the test!

Nicola said...


Thanks for such a great summary of the weeks cakes. After a whirl wind of a week with loads of unpacking of boxes, travel, and not much home time, it is actually kind of nice to sit down and read about everyone's adventures in the land of spun sugar.

Gorgeous, gorgeous trifles everyone, and I really have to say that I am inspired to cut up my whisk and get to it.

anitsirK said...

Does anyone know what temperature the baby lemon cheesecakes should be baked at? My guess is that it isn't 350, because mine were done in about 15 minutes, and the book doesn't seem to say... unless I'm blind, which is a distinct possibility.

Anonymous said...

For those who detected a bitterness, it was probably the orange peels in the marmalade, not the alcohol.