Here’s how you know I’m the real deal: whereas most food publications will cram an upcoming holiday down your throat in hopes that you’ll link to their page as you plan your holiday meal, I’m not so clever or strategic. I wait until the holiday’s over, when the post will no longer be relevant, and then I blog about it. This means: (1) I’m not very smart; and (2) I’m pretty authentic. And so it is that I share with you now a cake that would’ve been very nice to bring to a St. Paddy’s Day Dinner this past weekend (as I did) but which you will probably not make anymore because the holiday’s over.
You may be wondering about a post that was on my blog on Friday wherein I made Melissa Clark’s Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread live on webcam (using LiveStream) and then interviewed Melissa Clark on my cellphone afterwards. Many of you attended, though you missed the ending when the cake came out of the oven because LiveStream cut out. Not only that, but LiveStream didn’t archive the video (even though I hit “record”) so I had to take the post down because there was nothing left to see. Luckily, though, there’s this picture of the finished product and my profound ability to capture its essence in words.
About a year ago, a place opened up in SoHo/Nolita called “The Best Chocolate Cake in The World.” A tongue-in-cheek act of hubris, sort of like the novel “Winner of the National Book Award,” foodies were skeptical. Many who went there dismissed it as overrated. Me? I forgot about it. But last week, after having lunch with my friends Leland Scruby (of the French Culinary Institute) and Bao Ong (whose name you may recognize from the the New York Times Diner’s Journal blog) I asked if they wanted to check it out because it was right around the corner from where we were eating (Falai). They gladly assented.
It’s Apple Season, So Here Are Three Desserts You Can Make with Apples (Baked Apples, Apple Cake & Apple Cobbler)
Peter Meehan recently ranted about hectoring food snobs, the ones who make you feel bad for putting milk in your coffee (something he witnessed at an elite coffee shop) or who mock you for not knowing your various kinds of meat (hogget, anyone?) It’s with a sense of subtle restraint, then, that I gently prod you (I’m not hectoring, I swear) to make your way to a farmer’s market this autumn to buy some apples.
Not because it’ll make you a better person (it won’t) or because it’ll elevate your foodie status (whatever that might be), but because farmer’s market apples just taste better than supermarket apples. All you have to do to experience the difference is taste.
[A note on the above photo: that was taken by my friend & neighbor Rob Meyer who came over for cake and let me tinker with his SLR because I’m thinking of getting one. Has the time come? What kind should I get?]
The idea of a snack cake really appeals to me because, for most of my childhood, I’d come home from school and snack on cake. Only the cakes I’d snack on were the kind of cakes you find at a rest stop on the highway: Yoo-Hoos, Twinkies, Ring-Dings (my brother’s favorite) and Entenmann’s lemon coconut cake. My mom always kept plenty of these snacky cakes on hand and to this day, when it’s four in the afternoon and I’m feeling a bit sluggish, my favorite pick-me-up is a berry scone from Birdbath Bakery or, even better, a slice of some kind of cake that I made myself. This post is about one such cake.
Sometimes a recipe is so intriguing, so mysteriously alluring, so strange that there’s nothing you can do but make it to see what it tastes like. That’s precisely what happened when I saw this St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake on what’s becoming my #1 favorite internet recipe resource, Smitten Kitchen. I’m friends with Deb–we ate noodles together a few weeks ago–so I hope she doesn’t mind the fact that I’m cooking her entire ouvere here on my blog. I feel ok about it, though, because she adapted this recipe from another food world great, Melissa Clark. It’s like the recipe version of telephone (not in the Lady Gaga sense) and this recipe is one you’ll probably want to try too for the same reason I did; when you see how it’s made you’re going to ask: “What the heck’s that gonna taste like?” (In this scenario, you’re Marge Gunderson from Fargo.)
I had the apples, I had the butter, I had the sugar, the vanilla extract, and even the cornmeal. Jimmy was coming to dinner (see here) and, with only an hour or two to prep, I knew there had to be dessert. So I yanked down Karen DeMasco’s newest book, The Craft of Baking, and followed her instructions for a caramelized-apple skillet cake.
You say “chocolate cake,” and the masses come; you say “olive oil zucchini cake” and there’s a bit of a silence. “Ummm,” a timid voice emerges a few seconds later. “What kind of cake did you say?”
It’s olive oil zucchini cake, timid-voiced person! Or, rather, zucchini olive oil cake. It comes from Babbo pastry chef Gina DePalma’s book “Dolce Italiano” and one bite will make a convert out of you. It’s moist, it’s got terrific fall spices (cinnamon? check. ginger? you got it. nutmeg? who’s your daddy?) and there’s a “lemon crunch” glaze on top that’ll make you pucker your lips in delight. Craig’s friend Alena was dubious at first, but after one bite she declared “this is AMAZING” and asked for a second piece. The defense rests.