Feb 16, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

I thought that everyone would be dying to make this little cake for Valentine's Day, but we actually had a pretty small participation this week. Whether the low turnout was caused by quail-egg anxiety or other baking commitments or winter vacations I don't know. In my opinion, the people who missed this one may want to give it a try on a Free Choice week. But that's just my opinion--I'll admit that this cake got mixed reviews.

Like me, Jennifer fell in love with the quail eggs (and the quail, for that matter: "if I ever came across ... one, and I could get away with it, ... I would hug the little bird. They are just so dang cute!")  Oh, and the cake? Well, she liked that too: "dense, rich, and soft with a crispy buttery crust."

Mendy also liked the quail eggs ("little lovelies"), and the cake as well: he thought his cupcakes "had an exceptional, indulgent flavor. Really something special."

Lois had two heart-shaped pans, so she made two cakes: one, in the spirit of a giving holiday, to give to friends. Lois gave a good description of what we all experienced when trying to break and separate the quail eggs: "Working with quail eggs is not easy. Rapping the shell on the edge of a bowl will crack the shell, but I still had to poke through the very tough membrane. The eggs are mostly yolk, but this does not help with separating. The small amount of white clung to the yolk with great tenacity." Rose recommends a quail egg decapitator (how's that for a specialized piece of equipment?!)

Nancy B. knew just where to find her quail eggs: she'd seen them a thousand times at a local farmers' market.  She found them at a second market, and bought a spare package so she could double the recipe, using Texas muffin pans. Results? Everyone (except one nephew) "loved the crispy crunchy crust (as advertised), the fine crumb, and the nice vanilla/butter flavor." But, unless she gets an egg decapitator to make quail-egg-separating time easier, she thought she'd probably use chicken eggs next time.

And using chicken eggs is just what Vicki did. (She called hers a "quail-free egg indulgence cake.") Vicki, who has self-proclaimed "guilt issues over eggs as a non vegan vegetarian," just couldn't bring herself to hunt down the quail eggs because she remembered when it was a common sight in California to see a covey of quails, but all that construction has invaded their habitat. Her tasters thought they resembled a "sugar cookie in cake form."

If you've read Raymond's blog entry, you'll know that he gave the cake a decided thumbs down, both because of the ridiculous price of quail eggs ($3 per egg, or $15 for enough eggs to make the petite cake), and because he just didn't like the cake. (" I made it on Saturday morning and when we ate it at dinner it was hard and dry. We literally took one bite and tossed the whole thing into the trash.")

Our Valentine's Day FEATURED BAKER is Jenn--one of just a few who had the small heart-shaped pan recommended for this recipe. What I really liked about Jenn's cake was that it wasn't perfect, but she used her cake lemons to make lemonade. She photographed her cake that failed to come out of the pan in one piece against a pretty pink lacy background and dubbed it the "broken heart" cake. And, because Jenn is seriously into catching up, she baked a second cake--the chocolate streusel coffee cake. "32 cakes to go YAY" Finally, I loved Jenn's endearing revelation that she was fed quail eggs as a child in her mother's undying effort to put some fat on that skinny girl's bones.

Lola thought she was making the Cake of the Week--only she thought that it was a Free Choice week. (In fairness to Lola, I should point out that it was Free Choice week until I switched it around so that the Quail Egg cake would be the cake for Valentine's Day). She made the Double Chocolate Valentine--which was our V-Day cake last year, and is hard to beat, especially when it's covered with whipped-cream rosettes.

But it's this upcoming week that's Free Choice week. Grab your cookbook and choose a recipe that has already been made, either by me baking alone, or by the group--and bake away!

On February 28, the last day of February (hooray! winter is almost over!), we'll bake the Sticky Toffee "Pudding." As you may guess from the quotation marks around "pudding," this isn't what we Americans think of as pudding, but others will not find it at all odd to call a cake a pudding. It's flavored with stout, preferably Guinness. For those of you who don't drink alcohol, a non-alcoholic beer could substitute. Several internet sites also say that ginger ale can be a beer substitute.

Coincidentally, two of our bloggers, Mendy and Lois, announced that they would be off the baking rotation for a few weeks because they're moving. Mendy just found out he needed to look for a new place, and Lois is going to move to Poland, where she frequently visits, for a few years at least. Good luck to both of you--may your moves be smooth and your return to baking be speedy.


Hanaâ said...

Congratulations Jenn. I too loved your “broken heart”.
Mendy and Lois: good luck to both of you. I hope you're back to baking with us again before we're done.
I’m looking forward to Free Choice week and the Sticky Toffee “Pudding”. The latter sounds like it’s imperative to lick your fingers while and after you eat it :o)

Katya said...

oh quail eggs...something about them just didn't call me, and i made chocolate sables for valentines day instead...but maybe free-choice can be a three cake catch-up,as I've already made the frozen lemon thingy and the black chocolate party cake.

Monica said...

Congratulations to my main chica Jenn! I also loved her broken heart - so fitting.

Plus, I been sick for the past 7 days (today was the first time I came up from my bed).. and she has keep me totally in stitches via messenger.

Looking forward to free choice this weekend - I think coconut is calling my name!

Lois B said...

Congrats, Jenn! Very creative of you.

The sticky toffe sounds so interesting that I may have to bake en route.

Vicki said...

Congratulations Jenn! Your cracked cake was adorable. I would have given my eye teeth to been a skinny kid that needed fattening up.

evil cake lady said...

Congratulations Jenn! I loved your photos and your broken heart cake.

Lois and Mendy, hope you come back to baking and blogging soon. Happy moving!

Great write up as usual Marie!

Jenn said...

Aww.. thanks Marie for the honor. I'm glad you and everyone love the broken heart cake :).

And yes I too was surprised at the "lack" of interested in this cake.

Lois and Mendy, good luck on the move! Hope you return to baking soon!

Mendy said...


Congrats Jenn! Great Catching up.

Wish I could join in today.