Jan 19, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

I believe that the last time we had a Free Choice week, I mentioned that no one ever did the Pinecone Cake for that occasion. Now I'll have to eat my words, since Jenn made not just one, but two of them. Okay, so they were mini-pinecones, each one a quarter of the full recipe, but still. Jenn reported having trouble with both the cake and the fondant, but you couldn't tell it by looking at her photos.

Nobody else made the pinecone cake. In fact, there were no duplicates at all this week. If I were a statistician, I could tell you the odds against that happening, but I'm not, so I won't. I will say that the most popular catch-up cakes tend to come from the Quick and Easy list, and this week was no exception. Even though this group doesn't shy away from challenges, it's always nice to bake something easy, not to mention something that's almost guaranteed to be a success.

For example, Mendy made the chocolate butter cupcakes, which his whole family "enjoyed immensely." Unfortunately, after making them as a catch-up cake, he remembered that he'd already made them. But it's hard to be too unhappy about making chocolate cupcakes.

And Katya made the lovely carrot cake for her lovely sisters. She's also going off to lovely Lisbon next week. Bon appetit and bon voyage!

Andrea wanted a quick and easy cake to take her mind off her job search. She was a little wary that something as decidedly easy as the Whipped Cream Cake might not be worthy of her new cake pan. But, as almost everyone else found out with the whipped cream cake, sometimes simple things are the best.

Kristina made the Apple Cinnamon-Crumb coffee cake--a popular Free Choice selection because what's not to like? Kristina let her husband choose this week's cake: "I gave him a few choices from the list of cakes I have left to bake. Heavenly Coconut Seduction, Red Velvet, Apple Cinnamon Crumb Coffee cake and Sicilian Pistachio cake were all on the list. He stopped me at the Coffee Cake and said 'That’s it. Don’t bother going any further.'” He loved it--as soon as he recovered enough from his cold to taste it.

Nancy's choice was the Banana Refrigerator Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Frosting. All she had to do was wait for the ice in the streets to melt enough for her to venture out of her house. It was "a hit" with her entire extended family, so it was worth the trip.

Finally, Raymond picked the Black Chocolate Party Cake from the Q&E list. He thought the flavors were a little "too intense" for a party cake, and that if he made it again he might omit the nuts and try using plain white superfine sugar instead of the turbinado sugar recommended in the recipe.

The cakes that were not on the Q&E list all ended up varying in some degree from the original recipe.

Sarah made Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake--sort of. Part of the cake was an extra layer of the Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cake that she had "lying around." (It's a true baker who has cake layers "lying around.") She made the lemon curd from The Cake Bible instead of Rose's Heavenly Cakes because TCB's curd has "more lemon juice and butter--very important." She also conquered her disdaim for white chocolate enough to make two batches of white chocolate frosting (she thought she'd ruined one, but resurrected it through the judicious use of eggs). Most importantly, this was the recipe that caused the "frayed jacket" of her cookbook to "rip right off."

Faithy opted for the Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache. The only problem was that the caramel didn't turn to caramel because she stopped cooking the sugar before it turned to caramel. Even with that mishap, though, Faithy received kudos for her baking skills, which she modestly tried to shrug off. And she loved the ganache even though it was a "mistake."

Faithful Gartblue posted from the airport on her way to Bandung, Indonesia, about her "chocolate-filled strawberry cake." But I'm pretty sure she meant the strawberry-filled chocolate cake. She promises to write more when she gets home, so we'll find out for sure when she returns.

Back on schedule next week: it's the Genoise Tres Cafe. As you might guess, it has coffee three different ways: cake to which coffee has been added; coffee-flavored syrup, and mocha whipped ganache. Remember, this whipped ganache specifies 53% cacao. I don't know about you, but I have totally forgotten to search out the 53% cacao. My guess is that we'll see quite a range of percentages among the scofflaws among us who don't care what percentage is specified in the recipe.

The following week is the Cradle Cake. Hanaa and Monica have been begging for this cake for about a year now, and I finally relented. I think you'll love it.


Mendy said...


I think we are all probably glad that you choose baking as a hobby and not statistics. :)

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

The old style Lindt excellence in the 3 oz bar is 53% and I think readily available. Higher % will not be as light a ganache and may need more sugar.

Katya said...

Thanks for the tip, Rose. I can't believe I just got called a 'scofflaw' for having some independence as a cook! Well, yes I can. I am a scofflaw through and through. Arrrr.

Jenn said...

Marie, great write up!

I made the pinecone cake because you said I shouldn't wait until summer. That encouraged me - I thought I better start now (even though summer is still so so far away).

It's funny that there's no duplicates this time!

Marie said...

Thanks--it will be so easy just to go to the Lindt section and pick up the right bar!