Aug 10, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

How did we like the Plum Blueberry Upside Down Torte? Here are a few of the conclusions: Raymond "liked its old-fashioned simplicity." Mendy thought it was "easy and delicious." Jenn went him one better: "awesomely good and super-duper delicious." Lynnette thought it was "one of the easiest and one of the most flavorful" of the cakes she's baked so far. Julie said it was "easy to make" and had "nice balance of flavors." Do you see a theme here? It was EASY. Not that we're not up to challenges--we are. But what a treat it is to find a cake that's, as Mendy says, both easy and delicious.
Congratulations to Kristina! She managed to bake this cake in her new oven, even though her new kitchen is still far from being done. That's dedication!
And congratulations to Jennifer too. Although normally you don't get congratulated for being confused, I'm going to make an exception with Jennifer. Her confusion: she thought the the plum-blueberry cake was the week before (the week of the lemon meringue cake), and she made a trek to Sauvie Island Farms to pick her own blueberries. Not wanting to let the blueberries go bad (naturally), and not wanting to miss the lemon meringue cake (again, naturally), she just squared her shoulders and made both cakes in the same weekend.
I figured there would be lots of alternatives to the plum-and-blueberry combo, but most people stuck to the recipe. A few people strayed from the path: Lola added blackberries; Monica ("good enough to eat--for those who like fruit") used pluots; Lynnette thought apricots were a good substitute; and Katya added peaches to the mix. Gartblue used the standard fruit, although she threatened to add Malaysia's infamous durian fruit.
On the other hand, there were a few people who were able actually to find the coveted greengage plums (or an approximation thereof).
Vicki spent hours driving around looking for greengages, and finally found something called "Kelsey greengages" in a small produce stand--the last place she stopped at after many discouraged stops. Nancy B. had to be satisfied with some unknown kind of green plum that did not call itself a greengage.
And Joan (who was obsessively taking the tart's temperature) didn't even say where she got hers.
This week's FEATURED BAKER gets the "Silk Purse out of a Sow's Ear" Award for her very clever save. Lois was doing the fear-inducing, gravity-defying part of this recipe--turning it upside down--when she realized that the middle of her cake was seriously uncooked. She had no choice but to put it back in the pan and bake it another 5 minutes or so. But when she re-flipped it, it didn't look pretty. Rather than giving up on it, however, she remembered that whipped cream covers a multitude of sins. And she didn't just slather the whipped cream on--she elegantly piped it on. So professional was her piping job that the people who saw it assumed she'd bought it from a fancy-schmancy bakery!

Next week we're back to chocolate. To make a whole recipe, you actually have to make two separate cakes. In other words, if you make only one cake, you'll be making half a recipe. So those of you who typically cut the recipes in half will not have to do any scary math tricks. To make the cake you'll need a standard-size half-sheet pan.
You can frost and fill this four-layer cake either with a light whipped ganache filling or with gelatin-stabilized whipped cream. I think I'll let Jim decide.
After that, we'll do Marionberry Shortcakes, using the elusive Marionberry. Elusive unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, that is. For the rest of us, frozen marionberries are a good substitute. (I found them at Whole Foods).

By the way, if baking a cake every week isn't enough of a challenge for you, Heavenly Bakers Monica and Jenn are starting another make-through challenge. They're looking for about 30 people who'd like to try a recipe once a week from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible, by Victoria Blashford-Snell. See Monica's blog if you'd like more information.


Monica said...

Congrats to Lois... ! It's well deserved I would have not even thought of covering in whipped cream! Good save there.

I'm really looking forward to the next cake... I think I'm going to 1/2 mine and see where that gets me. Sadly, I will need to skip the Marionberry shortcakes (do you see me really, really sad - NOT!) since that weekend I will be on a plane bound to Vermont with Tom and my 3 of my best friends to bask in the wonders of the wilderness overlooking the borders of Canada in our very one lakeside cabin... I may or may not bake - who knows. The owner of the cabin told us there are wild raspberries growing around the cabin - just my luck!

Marie.. thanks so much for mentioning our new project! We thought doing some savory cooking would balance out the extreme baking we do. Jenn and I are really looking forward to this and everyone is welcome!

Jenn said...

Me looking forward to the next cake too!

Congrats to Lois who dressed up her cake super nice! It looks fancy!

Marie, you are such a sweetheart to mention our cook-a-long. Are you gonna join us?!

anitsirK said...

Thanks for the congratulations, Marie, but something went wonky in the link to my post. It should be :)

Soooo happy to join you guys again. Unfortunately, I must skip this next one since we're going away, but I hope to be back again soon.

Marie said...

Monica and Jenn,
I'm interested in joining. I don't have that cookbook, and don't know much about it. Why did you choose it?

The link should be fixed now.

Vicki said...

Congratulations Lois! Your torte was so beautiful. And I took courage from you when it was time to flip mine out of the skillet.

Monica said...

I have the book and the recipes are from all over the world, so you have global recipes (Asian, European, Latin, American, etc) you also have different categories Fish, Meats, Poultry, Vegetarian, Deserts (though I doubt we will venture much into those - lol) etc.. So it’s pretty wide-ranging to please all different cooks and palates.

The other thing is that they are simple recipe as well, not very complicated at all, so they are easy to put together for an everyday meal. And the ingredients are not very hard to find either.

I have cooked a couple of recipes from the book and so far, I have discovered a bunch of recipes that I would do over and over again for my family.

In fact you can go to the publisher site using this link,,9780756639747_PSP,00.html?sym=PSP

and preview of the book so you can get a feel of for the format.

Hope you join us!

Katya said...

FYI, just made the chocolate feather bed again. Somehow managed to get flummoxed by the batter division, so I'll clarify it here, although when I looked it was reasonably clear. You make two batches of batter, but each fills a baking sheet, so you do only use 2, not 4 as I mistakenly imagined last night.

Jenn said...

Marie - it would be AWESOME if you could join us!

I went to Borders to check out the book (after I said yes to Monica - that's how crazy I am). I like the book. Every recipe has a picture of it. I also like that it tells you the cooking time, and whether you can freeze it or not (not that I would freeze savory dish, but I like that the author give that option). From the picture, it all look so good and as Monica said, looks simple enough.

evil cake lady said...

congratulations lois! i don't think i would have had the balls to re-flip an uncooked cake back into the pan to finish baking it, so your post was very exciting! good call on the fancy piped whipping cream too.

marie, i'm glad my confusion merited a congratulations! it wasn't hard at all to have a two cake weekend, since this cake was so darn easy and both were so incredibly delicious.

marionberries are all done here so i grabbed a couple of pints last wednesday before i left town, hopefully they're still good and i can get to them before this weekend's feather bed extravaganza! yay chocolate!

faithy said...

Congrats Lois! :D

Mendy said...


Congrats Lois. Great Job!

I'm trying to convince my wife to bake/blog the next cake for my birthday. We'll see what happens...

Lois B said...

I'm humbled to receive the Silk Purse out of a Sow's Ear Award. Seriouly, Marie, thanks for making me the featured baker. I was on the road, so I didn't know until I saw an email notifing me of Hanaa's commment on my post. What a nice surprise.

Rose Beranbaum said...

thought i made a comment on monday but looks like it got 'eaten.' i mentioned that this was the most beautiful of all marie's postings and that i got chills at the end.
you all did such a beautiful job of this cake it was a pleasure to view the photos and relive the experience!