Results tagged cake from David Lebovitz

Banana Bread – Banana Cake

Banana Bread/Banana Cake

Can someone could explain to me what the difference between Banana Bread and Banana Cake is? I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with an explanation, any explanation…and I just can’t think of one. If you presume that because Banana ‘Bread’ is made in a loaf pan, whereas a cake is usually baked in a round pan—by that same logic, Pound Cake would be Pound Bread, which doesn’t sound quite as inviting. So you’re going to have to try harder.

Take muffins, for example. It’s funny when people eat a muffin thinking they’re being so ‘healthy’. The word ‘muffin’ is just the Latin derivative of ‘deceptive baked-good’. (Go ahead…look it up.) Swapping oil for butter, which often happens in muffins is fine, but you’re not fooling anyone, folks.

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Chocolate-Espresso Mousse Cake Recipe

It’s finally spring in Paris. And springtime is when a young man’s fancy turns to…yup, you guessed it—chocolate.

As the temperature starts climbing higher and higher (although I’m still not putting away my gloves and scarves quite yet…), I realize that it’s time for me to use up all those bits and pieces of chocolate that I have lying around all over the place, tempting me all winter, but which will soon turn into molten blobs if I don’t act fast. There’s chunks leftover from tastings, samples sent to me from companies, and pieces I’ve acquired from my travels here and there.

Served with a cool, tangy scoop of Vanilla Frozen Yogurt, from The Perfect Scoop

So I thought I’d create a recipe for Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake to use ‘em all up. This is one of my favorite types of ways to serve chocolate in a cake: strong, bittersweet, and creamy-smooth with a soft, luscious melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s so tender it practically evaporates seconds after you take a bite, but the intense chocolate flavors lingers on and on and on. Bliss.

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Fruitcake Bar Recipe (Friendship Bars)

fruitcake bars

Maybe this happens to you. Maybe it doesn’t.

You’re invited to a party and as a nice gesture, you bring something along. Being a baker you decide, naturally, to bake something.

So you get to the party, you’re wining and dining, loosening up and enjoying yourself. But when people find out you’ve brought a dessert, they all of the sudden get very interested in you, and what you’ve brought, what’s it called, how you’ve made it, what’s in it, what’s the recipe, etc..etc…

The most difficult was when I brought a Bûche de Noël to a Christmas party, which is a fairly complicated affair involving spongecake, chocolate buttercream, soaking syrup, and lots of crackly meringue mushrooms for decoration. Some nutty woman followed me around all night with a pen and note pad, prodding me for recipe details and I spent the whole night trying to avoid her.

But let’s say you’ve been working on recipes all day, or adding recipes to your blog. So you go to a party and maybe you’d rather just not talk about what you’ve made: After all, don’t they know you have a food blog and a couple of cookbooks where they can get all that information?

(And no, I don’t have a recipe for Bûche de Noël. But thanks for asking…)

Bakers Edge Pan

So my technique for throwing ‘em off the scent is to make up names for things I’ve baked that mean nothing, something innocuous that no one can possibly question what’s inside it. I’ve brought to parties Chocolate Surprise Cake, Mystery Spice Cake and Baked Summertime Fruit Dessert. But you need to be careful since if you pick the wrong name, something like Chocolate Emergency Cake, you’ll have to explain the story behind the moniker ‘emergency’.
And we can’t have that, can we?

Then there’s Friendship Bars, which is the name I often give these Fruitcake Bars.

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Chocolate Cake Recipe

The word ‘consulting’ always sounds like a dream job when you’re stuck working in a restaurant kitchen, slaving over a hot stove, on the line. As a consultant, it sounds like you sweep into a kitchen, where the staff welcomes you with open arm as their savior, and you magically transform the meals coming out of the kitchen into extraordinary feats of culinary magic.

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In fact, it couldn’t be more different. Restaurants call in consultants when they’ve exhausted all other possibilities, and the kitchen is in such dire trouble that they need to get some poor sucker from the outside to come in a try to fix what they’ve screwed up. The pay seems great, until you walk in the kitchen and realize no one wants to talk to you, no one wants you there, and worse, no one wants to change anything, since it means more work for them (and if they really cared about their work, they wouldn’t have had to call in someone from the outside in the first place.)

I was once a consultant for a corporation that owned several prominent restaurants. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out that one of their major problems was that there were a lot of high-paid executives sitting in meetings upstairs, while there were a lot of low-paid people downstairs, in the kitchen, putting the food on the plate. And let’s face it: Customers don’t care about executive meetings, they care about the food.
And that’s basically it.

When I mentioned this discrepancy to the high-paid executives (who hired me to tell them things like that…right?) we had another round of meetings, discussing things for hours and hours, until I told them I couldn’t sit through any more meetings since I had work to do in the kitchen. (Stupid me! What was I thinking? Those meetings were totally cushy. Why slave over a hot stove? Maybe those executives weren’t so wrong after all…)

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Chocolate Cake Recipe Tip

Did you know that when a chocolate cake recipe says to ‘grease a cake pan and dust it with flour’, you can substitute unsweetened cocoa powder for the flour?

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Simply butter the cake pan then spoon in a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder, then shake the pan to distribute the cocoa over the bottom and sides of the pan.

Voila!…a bit more chocolaty flavor in any chocolate cake.


Gâteaux aux kakis

Since I write in English quite a bit better than I do in French, the blog and my recipes are in the language of Shakespeare. However I realize a portion of my readers aren’t native English speakers, yet tirelessly trudge through my writings sans complaint.

This post is for you.

I would venture to guess about 90%* of the recipes in print and on the internet are in English, and a majority of them are in good ‘ol cups-and-tablespoons, forcing a great many people with whom we share our global village to do their unfair share of translating and converting.

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Les kakis, aka, persimmons

So, it’s turnabout time.
Here’s a recipe that I made for Christmas gifts, which I distributed to some favorite people in Paris, such as shopkeepers I visit, chocolatiers I frequent, and vendors at my local market that let me slip in front of the dames who make them rifle through the onions for twenty minutes looking for the elusive best one while I wait patiently behind them while they count out the 14 centimes while the people behind me start pressing themselves up against my backside or shoving the wheels of their metal shopping cart against my heels as if I can possibly move forward.

(For fun, I usually start backing up slowing, which causes a near riot behind me and is great fun to listen to. If you’re going to do this, though, whatever you do, never, ever look behind you. Keep staring straight ahead, as if you’re completely oblivious to what’s happening back there.)

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Banana Loaf Cake Recipe

I had planned to write up my post-Thanksgiving report, but I decided to wait until the smoke cleared before I tell ‘The Tale’ of what really happened that night…which involved a high-speed car chase through Paris, a few hypodermic needles, and a couple of user-unfriendly hors.

In the meantime, I thought I’d write a bit about what’s been baking around here, which I assure you will be just as exciting.

I’ve been cooking my way through Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Light Desserts which I featured in a recent interview, and have had a great time making many of the recipes from, including this towering chocolate cake I made for the first Thanksgiving I had. (Yes, we celebrate twice in Paris.)

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Since I’ve been on the subject of leftovers around here, I confess much of this baking was due to a surplus of applesauce I’d made from an apple-picking I did when my friends who live in the countryside complained they had too many apples and didn’t know what to do with them all.

So I thought I would be a very good person, and help them out.

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When Good Fruitcakes Go Bad

I keep a pretty clean house.

I bath regularly.

So I wondered why there were so many little flies buzzing around me?

Up until a few weeks ago, I never had a problem with insects, save for the nightly attacks of mosquitoes (the bane of Parisian summers). So I was wondered why I had so many little visitors flitting about my kitchen.

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Every year I make fruitcakes, and last year was no exception. I spend hours candying orange and grapefruit peel as well as making spicy, candied ginger, which I chop up into toothsome nuggets. I make a buttery batter packed full of brilliant-green Sicilian pistachios, and use my precious stash of rich, crunchy Macadamia nuts sent to me by friends in Hawaii.

Then batter gets divided into molds of various sizes and baked in anticipation of holiday gift-giving. (Note to future recipients: The size determines how much I feel indebted to you…so plan your gift-giving accordingly.)

Once-cooled, I soak the cakes with a heady pour of Cognac, then wrap them neatly in French linen, known as étamine. Then faithfully, each month, I brush the gauzy wrap with a fresh dose of Cognac, re-wrap them, then revisit them monthly to repeat the process.

Last week, I did my ritualistic unveiling of my lovely fruitcakes to give them their regular dose of Cognac.

As I pulled back the wrapping, something felt oddly unfamiliar, and an uneasy sense of dread spread over me. The cakes didn’t feel solid.

Nor did they even feel like cakes.

Well, words can’t really describe what I was feeling, so I’ll simply share…

fruitcakegonebad.jpg

Oh la vâche!, as we say.

This was perhaps the most horrible thing I’d seen in a long, long time.
Flies buzzed, hovered and swooped around the almost-unrecognizable bricks of cake, frothy mold seeped and fizzed from every pore, and little wriggly…well…since you may be eating while you read this, I’ll stop there, but you get the message (and hopefully share my pain.)

I’m certain le canicule, the heatwave of July, was responsible. It heated everything up, including my cakes, and turned them into a messy mayhem of mold and mouches (flies).

I made a beeline for the elevator to the garbage area on the ground floor of my building, praying the elevator wouldn’t stop to let someone else on. If it had, I don’t know how I would have explained what happened. Or the stink. Luckily I arrived tout seule, and with semi-regret, flung the whole she-bang in la poubelle, slammed down the lid, and beat a hasty retreat.

Merde!