Anybody out there who doesn’t love cake?
I don’t believe you. Well, if it’s true, I guess you’re lucky ‘cuz you’ll never hear a cake calling you into the kitchen in the middle of the night. I think I can speak for the other 99% of humanity when I say that if there’s a really good cake, I can eat the whole thing myself. Even a not so good cake. I don’t need anyone else at my one-woman party – I actually prefer it that way. I can cut a slice, and another and one more sliver, without eyebrows going up all around me.
So just 2 weeks after giving birth to my new baby, I figured it’s the perfect time to celebrate her entry into this world by testing some of our “Take the Cake” recipe contest entries. A girl can’t start too young when it comes to important things like this.
Honorable mention MUST go to Melinda Strauss (check out her blog at Kitchen Tested). She sent us so many deviously sweet entries. My kids loved decorating the top of her German Plum Cake. My oldest daughter made a peace sign out of the plum wedges and then I filled in the empty spaces with more plum wedges (and ate a few plums) and filled in and ate, until there was no cake in sight. Our plums actually weren’t too sweet (didn’t keep us from eating ‘em though), but once we sprinkled them with sugar and a touch of cinnamon, as Melinda calls for, and baked them up – hot, juicy heaven! I can’t wait to make Melinda’s Rainbow Layer Cake for my Hubby’s B-day this week.
As for our finalists: Let’s just say I never met a cinnamon bun I didn’t love – so the Cinnamon Bun Cake from Nechama Tawil was an instant hands-down finalist. This way you don’t have to commit yourself to just one bun – not to mention that it looks fabulous, a total show stopper.
I tested the Red Grape Cake with Olive Oil from imarealtor33162 for a Chol Hamoed Sukkah party. Now I love olive oil so much I could bathe in it, so I was not just intrigued by this cake, I KNEW I would love it. The test would come when I serve it. Will others feel the same way? I slid it into the oven just as my guests were arriving, and of course everyone wanted to know: “Nu nu… so what are you baking?” When I said Red Grape Cake with Olive Oil, you can’t imagine the nasty faces. Some people didn’t believe me. But when I served it, the response was incredible. It was so light, so exquisite, so perfectly sweetened, so moist and yet still slightly nutty from the cornmeal and ground almonds – in a word (or two), absolute perfection. Imarealtor33162’s recipe header note says “Tastes like a Hungarian cake as per my Hungarian niece! (Hungarian baking-the ultimate compliment.)” That was quickly confirmed when I served it to my Hungarian (Transylvanian/Romanian) mother, who could not stop repeating “This is something your grandmothers would have made!” Maybe it’s the cornmeal, maybe the the light hand with the sugar so it’s just sweet enough to be considered dessert, without being overly sugary. Dunno. But it sure is good and it tastes authentic.
I don’t profess to be a seasoned baker or even to love baking all that much. Eating cake, yes; baking it, eh, not so much. But I do have one fab cake that includes mayo to make it extra moist – I guess that’s the savory cook in me, yearning to break out: it’s My One Bowl Amazing Chocolate Cake. The trend these days among my sister, friends and I is to make this as cupcakes. Give it a try – but when doing cupcakes start, testing for doneness after just 20 minutes – you don’t want to over-bake those little darlin’s. For a twist on tradition try my Molasses Spice Bundt Cake with Bourbon Pecan Glaze.
And now to announce the winner of our Best Cake Recipe/Take the Cake Recipe Contest, chosen by you, our dear (and discerning) readers…