Monday, November 14, 2016
Last week, it was my turn to host our book group. When my turn comes in the fall, I usually end up baking some sort of apple cake. But this had been a tough week. Sure, we had all gained an hour earlier in the week. But that's always so unsettling, and leaves people in a haze. Instead of apple cake and tea, I decided chocolate cake, milk, and whiskey were called for.
Casting around for which chocolate cake to make, I pulled Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year down from my bookshelf. It fell open to a picture of a piece of chocolate cake. The recipe was called "The Cake That Cures Everything."
Reichl wrote of the day she baked the cake. She had learned a few weeks earlier that Gourmet Magazine would be shuttered, and now the shock and numbness were turning to grief. "I'd forgotten that loss can be so painful, that life can feel so bleak. I looked into the future seeing endless empty days, incapable of imagining how my life would ever change...What I needed, I decided, was to bake a chocolate cake."
Clearly, this was the cake I needed to bake. A bonus was the fact that it serves 20-25 people. Everyone would be able to take home an extra slice or two for their partners. Or for their breakfast. I wouldn't ask.
The one problem was the frosting. A person's frosting preferences are deeply held opinions, possibly determined by their genetic make-up. I have a feeling that most people end up with the same frosting orientation as their parents, much as they do with their religious and political orientations. I don't care for cream cheese frosting, like my mother before me.
But you know what? A lot of people apparently do like cream cheese frosting. I can't explain it. To me, it's difficult to understand how they could prefer the tangy/sweet juxtaposition to a buttery, creamy frosting. It seems so clear to me that it's just not very good, and the frostings I love are obviously much better.
I decided this time to give the recipe a try. This frosting, after all, also had chocolate in it, which surely would help. That and the large amount of butter helped offset the cream cheese's tang. It might not have been my first choice, but I have to admit, it went down just fine. Especially with a slug of bourbon on the side.
I'm picking and choosing my battles. When called for, I can be flexible, and do something that maybe isn't my first choice. I'll make this cake again for a crowd, and I'll even use the same frosting. But if someone wants a carrot cake with straight cream cheese frosting or oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips (sorry, another hard-to-explain dislike--give me raisins every time!) or mango sherbet, I'll stand my ground.
Sometimes, you just can't compromise. We all have to pick the battles we think are worth fighting.
Posted by Giovanna at 10:06 AM