Tag Archives: Joy the Baker

Dove and Syrup and the Powerful Temptation of a Chocolate Bundt

I love that right now I smell of a combination of the new package of Dove (beauty bar) soap I just opened in the shower today and maple syrup from the southern brunch I just devoured at Smith Street Diner.  The Dove always reminds me of my granny, since she’s used that soap for as long as I can remember.  It conjures up memories of me visiting her adorable, southern house in Nicholasville, Kentucky, that is so filled with various antiques that its practically a museum.  You can barely maneuver a corner without elbowing an old barrel or stubbing your toe on a little toy wagon or stool.  I’ve always loved that house and how it smells and will forever associate Dove beauty bar soap with the house and my granny.

I read Luisa Weiss’s (of The Wednesday Chef)  latest blog post this morning and literally sighed out loud after I completed the last sentence.  Her prose always seems so effortlessly whimsical, lovely and honest.  I then realized that even though I may peruse more than a few food blogs during my daily web surfings, there are four that I check like clockwork each day, when it really comes down to it.  These are the four who, when upon checking their blogs each day, my heart lurches and flutters every time I find they’ve revealed a new piece of their world in a post.

  • Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette : because she is first and foremost my favorite food writer.  The first food blogger/writer I was ever really exposed to.  Who’s words I was transfixed by and who’s recipes and photos I was inspired by and salivating for.  She is humble and funny and extremely gifted and both her blog and her book – A Homemade Life have left such an important impact on me.  Lately, I’m especially enjoying hers and Matthew’s  Spilled Milk podcast because it’s pretty much just 15 minutes of solid, hysterics and laughter between two friends who discuss the most random food-related topics a little in the middle.
  • Joy Wilson is Joy the Baker and boy is she funny.  I love her because she’s so relatable (at least to me).  She’s honest and hilarious and real and she has a serious sweet tooth.  Her writing is so brave and candid and delivers a strong sense of what type of person she is – one frankly, I’m sure I’d have a blast hanging out and baking with.  She also makes me feel better about eating dessert every day.   I had the lucky opportunity of interviewing her over the phone a few months ago and she was incredibly kind and helpful and this little old article/interview was what came out of it.  (Unfortunately my byline is no longer there, since the site has recently turned over, but hopefully it will re-return soon, as it is still being worked on).
  • Ree Drummond is The Pioneer Woman and what I love about her is that she too is hilarious and very candid.  She also has an affinity for humble comfort food dishes that I am such a sucker for.  I’ve made quite a few of her recipes now and always consult her blog when I need something unpretentious and more on the simple side.  Something that will warm and feed my stomach and my soul.  She seems like a rosie the riveter type.  She’s got balls.  Also, I think she looks like Malin Ackerman with auburn hair.
  • Luisa Weiss – The Wednesday Chef,  is also one of these women food bloggers I admire most.  She makes me feel adventurous and inspires me to want to cook out of my comfort zone.  She’s also the one who posted Marcella Hazan’s recipe for tomato sauce with onion and butter, which I have become obsessed with.  Luisa is humble and writes such elegant, honest, personal prose.  Reading her blog is almost like reading a letter to a long lost friend.

Reading any of these four inspires me to be a better writer and for that, I am eternally indebted – which is why I decided I had to blog today.

This past week was a mildly ambitious one for cooking and baking.  I was consumed with work and slapped in the face with a cold, which I am still in the process of nursing out the door (a nightly dose of spicy Indian korma and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo seems to help).  Last week was the week however, that I spent $6 on a very petite package of mushrooms.  Dried porcini mushrooms from Oregon to be exact.  They smelled heavenly when I let them steep in a hot water bath and made Jamie Oliver’s version of chicken tetrazzini.  I adore mushrooms that way.  Just to clarify, I am that type of girl who spends $6 on mushrooms instead of getting a manicure.  Manicures are a frivolous expense; dried gourmet mushrooms for my dinner are necessary.

Last week was also the week I was experiencing an intense chocolate cake craving  and came straight home from a long shift at work, to make a chocolate cake from scratch.  For some odd reason, it was a chocolate bundt that was haunting my thoughts.  I swear, whatever my last meal on earth would be, it would have to include some chocolate cake.  We’re a very contented pair.  I was eager to try this recipe from The Big Sur Bakery cookbook.  It looked lush and sinful and seemed like it would live up to the craving.  Believe me, it did.  It was incredibly moist and flavorful, due to generous measurements of buttermilk, vegetable oil and coffee.  I had no intention of icing it with that beautiful sour cream ganache concoction, though I’m sure it’s fabulous.  What I had in mind was more simple – just a happy dusting of powdered sugar.  But then I cut myself a big hunk and whipped up some awesome (and quick) hot fudge, which I then doused it in, and topped it with vanilla ice cream, to make hot fudge cake.  I take my cravings seriously.  Apparently.

This week, I plan to make some adaptations to develop my own recipe to enter in Food 52’s latest contest for “Best Autumn Pie,” and make an apple pear pie with gruyere crust.  Exciting and intimidating!

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Let them Eat Cake, Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake has been on my brain these past few days.  I’ve been acting like a lady obsessed, perusing the Internet for chocolate cake recipes to add to my repertoire.  So I found it kind of ironic that this morning, when I went to Bon Appetit’s website, I should find none other than a collection of their best chocolate cake recipes from the past decade.  This was created just for me, I thought!

I am a big fan of the chocolate cake.  To me it is just hard to beat, and I happen to be a self-professed chocoholic.  There could be banana pudding, blackberry and peach cobbler or one of my other favorite desserts on the menu, but if chocolate cake is also on the menu and I think whatever restaurant I am at will master it, I’m going to pick the darn chocolate cake.  Sorry fruit desserts.

So alas, this weekend I am going to bake a chocolate cake.  I’ve been craving one with a lush chocolate buttercream, but in the midst of my chocolate cake recipe pursuit, it looks as though a few contestants have won me over and the buttercream will just have to be patient for the time being.

I am a victim of food porn.  I typed in “chocolate cake” into the search box over at Tastespotting.com and was greeted with 16 pages of options!  Photo after photo of boastful, rich, tall dark and handsome chocolate cakes, each of them begging me to pick them.  Oh my.  This won’t be easy.

There have been quite a few chocolate cakes to win me over before…there was the mile-high one that my mom and I found in some magazine years back.  One of those quadruple threat cakes, with many layers, alternating chocolate buttercream and ganache and silky cake and chocolate shavings.  The kind of cake that takes six hours to make and has you in a chokehold of agony, as you demand to be finished with the process so you can have your precious cake already!  (I asked for this as a birthday cake when I was in middle school one year).  Now that is a mother who loves her daughter.  I think we had this cake on two or three different occasions and it’s still buried in a cookbook folder somewhere, for us on a rainy day, when we’re craving serious chocolate and feeling particularly brave and ambitious.

Then there are the flourless cakes.  The ones that are so rich, you have to pace yourself and allow for several pauses and sighs in between bites, to relish the fabulousness that is the chocolate flourless cake.  One favorite in particular, is Bill Neal’s Mt. Airy Chocolate Souflee Cake, from Crook’s Corner, in Chapel Hill.  This cake is dense and buttery and unbelievably chocolatey and is perfect with its companion – a generous, messy dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream (ahem, *NOT* from a can, so don’t get any ideas).

There’s also a flourless cake recipe I found from a winter issue of In Style Magazine about a year ago, from The Spotted Pig Restaurant, in NYC.  It was a cinch to make.  It had Bourbon in it.  And it too came with a generous, messy dollop of whipped cream.  Not just any whipped cream however.  Spicy whipped cream!  This was perfect for a winter evening.  The whipped cream had a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.  What a genius idea, spiced whipped cream!  I love it.

Then there are those cakes I can’t wait to make, including the one I think I will be baking this weekend, the Root Beer Float Cake.

I also found a recipe for Coca Cola fudge cake (which looks very much like the kind at Cracker Barrel).  Now wait.  Before you say anything, let me remind you that technically I am southern, so yes, I have been to Cracker Barrel.  On more than one occasion too.  AND, I’m not embarrassed to admit it.  Okay, maybe a little, because I’m pretty sure it is banned in the realm of Foodie World.  I should also tell you, it just happened to be a road trip stop, whenever we were taking family vacations.  It was reliable.  You could always find a Cracker Barrel.  And they had checkers and fun little wooden, triangle jumping games you could play at your table!  How can you say no to that?  You wouldn’t if you had their Coca Cola fudge cake.

Also, I recently spotted Edna Lewis’ recipe for “Very Good Chocolate Cake” and have been wanting to make that as well.

There will be a lot of chocolate cakes in my future.  I don’t have one lying around the house at the moment, but I do have something to satisfy my chocolate tooth until the weekend rolls around.  I made Deb Perelman’s (of Smitten Kitchen) mother’s Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake at approximately 10:00 last night and it was GOOD.  I know because I couldn’t wait until the next day to try some, so at approximately 11:20, I had some.  I also just had some for breakfast.  It’s a rich, thick, sour cream coffee cake base, with ribbons of cinnamon sugar and it’s beautifully studded with lot’s of chocolate chips.  I’ll be making this again thank you.

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Sweet Sweet Spring

Hello Spring.

Hello things I am loving right now…

  • Jill Andrews and this cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Sharp Cutting Words”
  • This movie because it was on last night and these two are so incredible in it.

  • Joy the Baker and her blog, because she bakes delicious things and takes delicious photos of them.  Plus, she’s hilarious.
  • Violet Bella’s beautiful jewelry – I want it all!
  • This book that I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying.  David Lebovitz reminds me so much of David Sedaris (if he were a pastry chef).

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