Oct 13, 2010

Last Cake, Next Cake

First, the results of the poll:
These results were very surprising to me. I expected some clear winners, but there were none. In fact, of the first three people who sent me their choices (that's 15 cakes), there were no duplicates. In all, 37 cakes got at least one vote as someone's favorite! I think that shows the depth of this cookbook--it doesn't just have a few great recipes and a lot of chaff. It's got a lot of great recipes.
If you were like me, you found it very hard to get down to just five favorite cakes. I went through the cookbook and was ruthless about picking only the best of the best. That gave me a list of about 15 from which to cull. I made some fairly arbitrary decisions and picked my final five, but I could have had a different list of five that would still have been accurate as being favorites.

One Cake got Four Votes:
St. Honore Trifle

Five Cakes got Three Votes:
Almond Shamah Chiffon
Coconut Cheesecake with Coconut Cookie Crust
Lemon Sour Cream Poppy Seed
Pumpkin Cake with Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream
Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake

Fourteen Cakes got Two Votes:
Apple Caramel Charlotte
Apple/Peach Upside Down Cake (one vote for each)
Chocolate Banana Studcake
Chocolate Ice Cream Cake or Sandwich
Gateau Breton
Golden Lemon Almond Cake
Lemon Meringue Cake
Marionberry Shortcakes
Plum and Blueberry Upside-Down Torte
Plum Round Ingots
Rose Genoise
Torta de las Tres Leches
Whipped Cream Cake
Woody's Lemon Luxury Cake

Sixteen Cakes Got One Vote
Baby Chocolate Oblivions
Baby Lemon Cheesecakes
Chocolate Apricot Roll with Lacquer Glaze
Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake
Chocolate Tweed Angel Cake
Classic Carrot Cake
Coffee Chiffonlets with Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream
Chocolate Feather Bed
Deep Chocolate Passion
Double Chocolate Valentine
Marble Velvet Cake
Sicilian Pistachio Cake
Strawberry Chocolate Layer Cake with Miss Irene Thompson's Fudge Frosting
Sybil's Pecan Torte with Coffee Whipped Cream
True Orange Genoise
White Gold Passion Genoise

And one cake that we haven't officially baked yet got one vote:
The Bostini

I certainly owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Rose for providing Jim, me, our guests, and neighbors with so much delicious eating, and for stretching me w-a-a-y beyond my comfort level in each new challenge. (Spun sugar!? No way!) Thanks, Rose.

And now, back to this week's cake, the Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes. Although some people said they didn't like the whole lava cake craze, we had good participation this week...so somebody must like them. It was Maria's (from Michigan) first official post as a Heavenly Cake Baker. Although Maria professes herself to be a "total lava cake snob," she was pleased with how this one turned out.
Although this cake isn't on the Q&E list, most people commented on how quick and easy it was to put together. Lois, for example, said it "came together easily - much easier than the cakes I've been watching my HCB pals prepare the last couple of weeks." Raymond wasn't crazy about the intensely chocolate cakes, and he didn't like the egg carton instructions, but he praised the "really simple" cake batter. In fact, Mendy thought they were so easy that he thought there would be no need for his wife and him to go out for dinner to order them: "we can stay home indefinitely. Or, maybe we can just order something else. ;). Plus, he thought they were "delish."
Even Katya, who didn't want to like them because she disapproves of the whole molten lava cake craze, thought they were easy. And, though she was hoping not to make them or to like them, concluded, "They were pretty good. Hmph."
Poor Jennifer had so much trouble with the ganache that, after swearing at it for hours, she was finally led to class this cake under her "failure" subheading. (It didn't look like a failure to me, but then I wasn't swearing at my ganache).
Faithy didn't swear at her ganache--in fact, she liked the way it hardened quickly and efficiently in the freezer, but she thought her lava cakes were "ugly," and maybe too bitter for someone who doesn't like dark chocolate. But no worries, since she's not one of those misguided people herself.
Vicki also thought they were a bit too chocolatey, although she's the "queen of dark chocolate," but what she really loved was the smell: "If I was staging an open house for sale, this is what I'd have baking in the oven!"
Some other snapshot reviews:
Lola: "Delicious," ... but they "didn't look like Rose's photo."
Gartblue: "Tasted heavenly. My lava didn't quite flow,but then again, I had problems making and shaping them into balls. Instead I squeezed them into balls instead. *cringe* But I love these."
Shandy: "I was not over excited about the chocolate flavor and my ganache was not oozing out like Rose's. I did like how fast these little cakes went together and nothing stuck to the bottom of my cake cups."
Nancy: "It was unanimous--these are really good."
Andrea: "Given my issues with the ganache I would say they turned out okay, but there really wasn't much lava to them." [Andrea was comparing these cakes to ones she'd eaten in Hawaii on her honeymoon--probably no other cake will ever compare to the ones she remembers with love-misted fondness.]
Julie: "I thought that it was a nice cake texture and really loved the soft ganache inside."

Overall, there was a lot of enthusiasm for these little cakes--even from people who didn't make them. Several bakers said they didn't like the idea of eating undercooked cake batter, so deliberately decided to give these a miss. When they discovered that the lava was actually warmed ganache, though, they said they thought they'd try them after all--some other time.

Every now and then, I confess, I choose the week's FEATURED BAKER
for totally arbitrary and capricious reasons. This is one of those times. Not that Sarah didn't deserve the title for her pretty cake or her description of the "ethereal, melt on the tongue crumb that I’m beginning to associate with the Rose Levy Beranbaum brand." But honestly, what did me in was her tribute to her mother, on her birthday: "She has the looks of a schoolgirl, even though she just became a grandmother for the third and fourth time. She’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, and I hope to have her patience, zest for life, and Michelle Obama arms when I’m 60." Nice, huh?
If you didn't vote in this week's poll, don't worry--we'll do another one at the end of the project.
And speaking of the "end of the project," do you want me to start building in more "Free Choice" weeks? Some of you are so close to being able to finish at the same time I do--you can probably do it if you have a few more weeks to catch up. I've been scheduling a free choice about every three months, but I could step it up to once every two months, or even once a month. Just let me know your preference.

I know you're thinking, will this woman ever stop writing? Is there an end to this post? The end is coming right up.
Next cake: quick, easy, healthy, dairy-free. Just make sure you have a ripe banana, some instant oatmeal, and grated vegetables. (Real vegetables, not the ones in soup). Rose says "everyone adores" this bread/cake. Let's hope we prove her right.


faithy said...

Marie, you write very well! I wish i can write half as good as you.

Ok..i think i must have been half asleep when i read your post about voting..lol! I thought you meant voting for the next cake to bake..that's why i didn't vote..LOL!

Congrats Sarah for being the featured baker!

Monica said...

Congratulations Sarah, well deserved.

And this weekend, after being super lazy in my participation - I'm back - hold on to your hats people I have HIGH expectations for this.

Jenn said...

Marie, I agree with Faithy, you do write very well. So never do I think "will this woman stop writing." On the contrary, I became very sad when it's a short post :).

After I sent my top 5 to you, I regretted not putting St. Honore Trifle in, so that cake would've gotten 5 votes. I agree it was really hard to choose.

And since this is going to be a very long comments (!), let me end by saying that I love the idea of doing free choice more often. Maybe once every 6 weeks?

Marie said...

I almost sent you an email asking you to reconsider and vote, and then I told myself not to be bossy. Lesson learned: always go with being bossy!

And it's not even chocolate!

You're very sweet. I loved the St. Honore trifle, and Woody's Luxury Lemon Cake, too, and Coffee Chiffonlets, etc., etc.--none of which made it in my top five.

Katya said...

I wouldn't mind some of those Michelle Obama arms myself at 30. Guess I should lay off the lava cakes.

evil cake lady said...

congrats sarah! i loved your tribute to your mom.

marie, like pretty much everyone else i love your writing and worry more about what will happen when i don't have two posts per week to read from you. at least that day is a little while in coming.

i would love more free cake weeks but then again, i like having the deadline to push me to bake these cakes. once every two months?

Andrea said...

Marie, I love your posts! I always look forward to reading them. And, I think you're right that no chocolate souffle cake will ever top that first one, but I will still try this one again.

I would love to have more free choice weeks. I'm a bit behind the rest of the group, but like this last weekend I may attempt to do more than one cake a week every once in while to catch up.

lola said...

Marie, I am so enjoying being a part of this group and I look forward to your posts. Sarah's tribute to her mom brought tears to my eyes. Another great week! Thanks to everyone.

rose Beranbaum said...

marie, this is a fabulous summation. apologies to everyone for not being able to comment but woody and i were upstate (postings to come on the events) and no internet, no at&t, and no time. we did get to read all the postings on the lava cake on monday on the bus going upstate as i had my ipad and there was still internet. woody will be retesting this cake to improve the unmolding of the caramel--we have a few ideas. yes it is indeed more sweet than my usual but i loved the flavors and textures so much i made an exception.
i feel like i know you all so well and wish we could have a big party at the end. now here's a perhaps crazy idea: what about testing the recipes as we finalize them for the upcoming book! this could be open only to the original all of you who are participating in this bake through. what a wonderful way it would be to fine tune the recipes and then you'd have the benefit of not having to wait so long to have them! there will be cake, pie, pastry, cookies, and sweet yeast breads. just a thought. i'd have to keep at least one as a surprise though don't you think? i'm sure marie would like a break though (hopefully temporary). this has been an enormous commitment for her.

Hanaâ said...

Rose, what a great idea. Count me in!!!!!! :o) And your new book sounds great: an all-in-one book (cake, pastries, cookies, yeast breads, yum!!).

Hanaâ said...

Marie, for the Free Choice week, I'm fine with once (or even twice) a month. I have some catching up to do. But whatever you decide, is fine with me.

Sarah the Bear said...

Wow! I just read this about being the featured baker and I feel so honored!! Thank you so much, everyone! My mom totally deserves all the praise and then some--she is amazing :) It was the least I could do being 3000 miles away from her on such a milestone birthday. Thank you so much for reading!

Katya said...

Rose--I would be so excited to test upcoming recipes--count me in as well!

Mendy said...


Wow! Testing new Rose recipes. That would totally rock! Count me in too! :) Big hand for Marie for all her effort in making this bake-through happen!

I could go for a free choice once a month.

Congrats Sarah, great Lava post.

Jenn said...

Wow, Rose. What an honor it would be to be testing new recipes. I would love to.

faithy said...

Wow!! That's so fun! I want in too! I want to test Rose recipes (even though i complained it's long winded..lol!..but i still adore Rose the same)! :D

Marie, yes, you need to push me a little..i'm one of those that needs to be bossed around..LOL! Otherwise, i'll just sit there at my quiet corner..and stone or dream..?..lol!

faithy said...

Wait..but i like Marie being the 'leader' and i hope if there's a test-bake-through, would be nice to still have Marie leading us though...

Wow, Rose ..cakes, cookies, pastries, yeasted bread..sounds like a lot of variety of different bakes and so interesting! I can't wait till the next book get printed..

evil cake lady said...

Rose, count me in as a test baker too! What a honor and it could be such great fun. Then, I wouldn't have to miss you guys when the heavenly cake-through finishes up :)

Nicola said...

Great post Marie. And thanks for dropping me an email! I needed the shove - though when I first saw it in my inbox I had palpitations that you were going to kick my lazy butt out of the group, instead of asking me for my favourite cakes.

I am back this week!

Would be so honoured to test bake from the new book - and although I can't commit to being as precise and scientific as you and Woody, I can use a ruler!!

Monica said...

I'm also jumping on the wagon of bake testing...what a great opportunity! Plus like everyone else love the variety that the upcoming book has too.

Alpha Baker Joan said...

OMG Could we Really test for the new book? I have been gone for a month and checked in to see what I would be baking on this Friday and here was this wonderful idea from Rose! I am thrilled!! Please include me. I am so excited! Marie, you writing is so delicious, please don't ever stop sharing your talent with us.