Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hello, 2010, I'm Looking Forward to Spending Time With You


I'm not big on resolutions, if by resolutions you mean a list of things to stop doing in the coming year.  But I am convinced that if I just figure out the perfect schedule, I'll be able to attain all my goals.  We have Bronson Alcott's daily schedule for his family (you know, Louisa May Alcott's dad) posted on a door in our hallway.  It looks so simple.  Though they do get up at 5 AM, and he neglected to pencil in time for facebook and twitter.

The fact that New Years coincides with my birthday just makes me more of a sucker for figuring out how to make the coming year fruitful.  Last year it was all about planning to do more things.  Go out for a mocha every Friday, read at least 50 books.  Well, I only read 22, and the mochas fizzled out in March.

Ever optimistic, this year I hope to make it to 50 books, and I'm aiming for weekly mochas again.  I'm convinced if I just figure out the perfect way to schedule all these things, it will all work out.  What a sucker.

In the meantime, I'm inspired to make a '10 in 2010' list.  They're everywhere--knitting friends are making lists of ten shawls to knit in 2010 (I'm hoping to make one or two).  My list is ten cakes to make (and eat) in 2010.

Lane Cake
I got a head start, since my birthday was the first.  For that, Edna Lewis's Lane Cake--a white cake with a coconut, pecan, raisin, and bourbon filling.

  A Naked Lane Cake
Here goes my 10 in 2010 list:

I loved Kim Severson's article about the cake ladies of southeastern Alabama.  It might be nice to be the cake lady of northeast Portland.  Someday.  So on my list goes:

1) the Chocolate Little Layer Cake, a 12, yes, you read that right, 12-layer yellow cake with chocolate icing; and

2) The Caramel Cake, whose icing is made by caramelizing sugar and beating in butter and cream.  It's only 3 layers, but you can't always bake big.  Also--this recipe was adapted by Scott Peacock, so that's a bonus.

3) Pavla's Cake--a family recipe, Pavel's grandmother's cake.  A walnut torte, filled with pastry cream, and iced with a bittersweet chocolate ganache.

4) Punschtorte.  I've always been intrigued by this classic Central European cake.  You cut a sponge cake into three layers.  The second layer gets cubed, and soaked in a mix of orange marmalade, rum and grenadine (for color).  The cubes are then placed on top of the first layer, which has been spread with orange marmalade.  The scraps and trimmings of the second layer (because apparently it's a messy business) get mixed with curshed macaroons, chopped almonds, any remaining rum mixture (guess I wasn't supposed to drink it!) and used to fill the spaces between the cubes.  The third layer goes on top, and is weighted down to bind the second layer.  Finally, you ice it all with rum-flavored pink fondant icing.  This recipe, incidentally, is in Lillian Langseth-Christensen's Gourmet's Old Vienna Cookbook.

5) Zigomar Cake.  When I was little, before my birthday I liked to look through Henri-Paul Pellaprat's Modern French Culinary Art, and try to find the most complicated looking cake.  I don't remember if I ever got the Zigomar (and it was often my father who made my birthday cake).  Now that my last initial is a 'Z' it seems even more perfect for me.  Basically it's a 3-layer chocolate sponge.  Between the first two layers is chocolate rum butter-cream, between the next two is white rum butter-cream and chopped pistachios, and the cake is iced with mocha rum butter-cream.  Anyone noticing a trend here?



6)  I really want to cook my way through Caroline B. King's Victorian Cakes, a memoir with recipes about growing up in a comfortable 1880's Chicago household.  Maybe I will.  The book is full of intriguing recipes like Perfume cake (a white cake scented with, yep, mother's perfume, violet being their favorite, and, rose tasting of hair oil).  I'm drawn to the Ribbon Cake, Four alternating layers of yellow cake and yellow cake with raisins, citron, molasses and spices folded in separated by thick layers of bright red jelly (I have just the red currant jelly for this in my pantry).  Iced sometimes with chocolate, sometimes with white frosting tinted with the jelly.

7) Also from King's book, the Seed Cake.  I love caraway (lucky thing, since I married a Czech--it's one of their main spices), and have long been intrigued by the classic pound cake flavored with caraway.

I'm going to throw in cake 7a from this book as well, The King's Shoe Laces, because of its name and main flavoring agent, orange-flower water.  A thin sponge, cut in strips, dusted with powdered sugar, and taken with cocoa.  How civilized.

8) A Baba au Rhum, or Rum Baba.  Enough said.

9)  Heirloom Banana Layer Cake with Prune Plum Filling and Seafoam Frosting from Flo Braker's Baking for All occasions.  Partly because it's name is so long.  Partly because you know how I feel about prunes.  Partly because the prune filling has Armagnac, and I need something other than rum going on here.  But especially because it's intriguing, and Flo Braker can do no wrong.

10)  Finally, Persian Love Cake.  I made this cake for my daughter's high school graduation, and have been wanting to eat it again ever since.  The cake is scented with cardamom and lemon, the icing with saffron and rosewater.  It is delicious.


As you can see, my birthday cake is on its last legs.  Time to think about the next cake!

9 comments:

Sheila said...

They all look wonderful and delicious! I look forward to viewing your year of cakes, and thank you for such a lovely and inspiring blog.

Vicki said...

Whoa, I think I just gained 5 lbs. reading your list. Sounds wonderful, though.

anmiryam said...

Great list! I am tasting them all vicariously.

I'm with you on the 50 books thing, though I doubt I'll get close.

Giovanna said...

Thanks, Sheila and Vicki. Anmiryam, we could not read 50 books together...

Lynne said...

Thanks! I am inspired to make my own list of 10.

I am also astounded because I am researching Lane Cake for a cooking class I'm teaching on the 17th for the NEA Big Read project in our community. The book is To Kill a Mockingbird and that is where I first learned of Lane Cake.

So amazing that it was your choice for your 2010 birthday. Looks divine and I can't wait to try it.

Jessica said...

You're trying to kill me, aren't you?

Giovanna said...

Lynne, I guess I need to reread To Kill a Mockingbird--I don't remember there being a Lane Cake there. I'd love to hear any interesting tidbits you learn.

When I was little my mother made one once, I think for an aunt's birthday, and I was so excited to try it, and then so disappointed. Funny to think there was a time that I didn't like the taste of bourbon!

I've long thought a cookbook of desserts kids won't like would be useful--maybe I'd put Lane Cake in it. Though, my kids never seemed to mind it.

And no, Jessica, I'm not trying to kill you--I promise. Cakes are really innocent creatures.

Francesca said...

Why don't you come visit me, and then after sampling the different bakeries (and my favorite gelato flavor of all) you can write a whole article about babà! :D

Giovanna said...

Such a good idea. We'll have to do it one day...

And what's your favorite gelato flavor of all?

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