Thursday, November 5, 2015

Midweek Roundup: "The Best Cake So Far"

Photo by Kim
The Finer Cookie

When I got a glimpse of Kim's first picture, I asked myself how she had managed to get those triangular pieces.  Fortunately, she tells all, explaining how she had seen the pyramid-shaped pans on Martha Stewart's online store and just had to have them, but never used them because nothing seemed right and she was apprehensive that they wouldn't release.  I think we can all relate to that story.  Fortunately, it has a happy (and delicious) ending.  If you haven't looked at Kim's blog yet, please do--she begins with a not-completely-joking prayer, asking that Rose be admitted to heaven, no questions asked, and recommending this cake for the next heavenly soiree.

Aimee had milder aspirations than heaven.  She was just thinking how much this cake would have been appreciated by the Portokalos family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, even though it does have a hole in it.  Aimee thought she had messed up the layering because she ended with a very scant layer of chocolate, but, when she cut into the cake, the layering was beautiful!  Now that she has the hang of it, she thought she'd make the next version in mini-bundt pans.  Good idea!

Mendy must have been an engineer in another life.  His cake was dreamily soft in texture, but it kind of fell apart when he took it out of the pan.  But he reconstructed it so carefully that you'd never know that large pieces of it remained in the cake pan.  And, of course, the "super duper" ganache covered of multitude of structural sins.  One of Mendy's daughters ("The Caboose") wants to be a baker when she grows up, and helped Mendy with his mise en place.  She has an excellent instructor!

Mendy was not the only one who needed the ganache to cover a little breakage.  Rachel's "poor cake suffered a grievous injury on the trip from pan to cooling rack.  No longer able to find baking spray with flour at her supermarket, she used plain baking spray and added her own flour.  In retrospect, "this might not have been the best idea."  But Rachel found that the glaze served to "hide the problem."  The "proof of the pudding (or the cake) is in the eating," and good eating it was. As Rachel's daughter said, returning to the table for a second piece of cake, "I was going to think about whether or not to have another piece, but who am I kidding?"  Nobody is fooled, but nobody is surprised either.

Do you know that if you take two pieces of marble pound cake and put them together on a plate, you end up with something that looks like a very voluptuous striped butt?  No?  Neither did I, and maybe neither did anyone else in the world, but now we do, thanks to Katya.  We also know, and this knowledge could come in handy some desperate day, that fun-size Hershey bars can serve as a substitute for dark chocolate.  By the by, I'm very glad that I went trick or treating back in the day, before "fun-size" candy bars.  Full-size candy bars are much more fun than the little bitty ones that are mislabeled as fun.

And speaking of (not) fun, I was a little afraid to read Catherine's blog, which was entitled "Baking Rage."  That didn't sound good.  Especially since she was talking about two different attempts, neither on of which left her feeling sanguine.  First, she used a cake pan that was too big.  Then she used a cake pan that was too small.  It sounds like there should be a third time, right?  A baby bear time, when the pan is just right.  But I think she must just have very high standards, because her photo of the marbling looked beautiful!  Or maybe she just likes cake batter (she pronounced the batter delicious!) better than the finished cake.

No rage from Kristina--just philosophical musings.  Such as why?  What is the purpose of marble cake?  "Why are marble cakes vanilla with a little bit of chocolate thrown in?  If you like chocolate, you probably prefer more chocolate ..., and if you don't like chocolate, you probably want none of that chocolate business interfering with the purity of your vanilla.  Then again, maybe you're one of those indecisive types...."  There are probably no answers to such questions, but the eating is good, although one of her tasters thought the cake would be improved by being soaked in brandy.  Why?

I was very glad to see that Jen got a chance to bake this cake again (she did it once during the Beta Baking tests), since it was her thrown-out-casually idea that got Rose thinking about the marble-in-reverse idea.  And also because she loves sour cream cakes.  This version is the first one she's done with a toddler, and she discovered, probably not for the first or last time, that Rose's precise instructions don't always mesh with a toddler's way of doing things.  Nevertheless, the result was still "dense, rich, melt-in-your mouth cakey goodness."

Faithy also made this cake during Beta testing, and has made it for other occasions since, so, although she loves the cake, thought it was time to do something more interesting with it.  She found the Pink Pearl Lady Cake, a cake that Rose made with her good friend, Lisa Yockelson, in mind and decided it would be a good match for the marble pound cake.  Patience, people--we'll get to the Pink Pearl Cake eventually.  Faithy combined the two cakes to make a a 5- to 7-layer cake (depending on how you count the layers) that is unlike anything in TBB but beautiful, imaginative, and quintessentially Faithy!

Vicki also fancied it up a bit.  She's taking a baking class, which apparently required her to use a mocha buttercream for her final project, so she simply added a layer of buttercream filling.  With or without the buttercream, it's a "lovely cake to have in our repertoire."

Next week:  The Sugar Rose Brioche.  We've made brioche several times now, so nothing in this recipe should surprise you, although the shaping method is not exactly intuitive.  I made mine several weeks ago, and it is long gone, even though Jim asked me very nicely not to give any away.  I did, though, so eventually I guess I'll have to make another loaf.  I look forward to seeing the lovely braids that you all make!


  1. Very entertaining roundup. And spectacular pyramid shaped cake.

  2. Marie, Thank you for choosing my photo! This was a fun recipe to make and shoot. You write great posts. Thanks again.

  3. these were such amazing renditions and posts. Marie you must be the funnest grandma going! another bear indeed! thank you all for your imaginative baking and writing. it is like dessert getting to read all this after one of the busiest weeks ever. on top of everything else, we're now involved in some savory kitchen reconstruction--unexpected--due to settle of the foundation---but it will be for the best--when it's over!

  4. Great round up Marie. So fun to read everyone's posts and see their marble designs.

  5. looks amazing and it tasted so good yum