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Baking From My Home to Yours: Cakes

December 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the Cakes chapter of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. The All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake was pretty good with a light, airy and delicate crumb, very moist but somewhat mild in flavor. I added about 3-3 1/2 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate that I had on hand. The chocolate went really well with the pumpkin, nuts and cranberries. If I make this cake again I would definitely add the chocolate again. I would probably also increase the amount of spices to give the flavor a little bit more oomph.

    I did make the optional maple glaze but made the mistake of glazing the cake before it was completely cooled. Not a smart move. The glaze was totally absorbed by the cake.

    I also made the Cranberry Upside Downer cake. I did make a couple modifications with this cake. I used a 10" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom rather than an 8" cake tin. I also lightly sprayed the tart pan with pan release and rubbed it into the flutes to ensure that it would come out. The removable bottom allows some of the butter/sugar from the fruit topping to seep out so I wrapped the tart pan in foil. The cranberry/nut topping mixture plus the cake batter fit perfectly into the tart pan. The recipe gives options to use either walnuts or pecans in the fruit topping, I used pecans, and to use either vanilla or almond extract in the batter, I used vanilla. Since the tart pan was larger and shallower than the pan called for in the recipe I reduced the cooking time from 40-45 minutes to 30 minutes, which was exactly right.

    The recipe called for glazing the cake with melted red current jelly, which I didn't happen to have. I did, however, have some seedles red raspberry jelly which I melted down and used instead. I figured if Cran*Raspberry was good enough for Ocean Spray, I could do it to. When done, my Cranberry Upside Down tart looked almost identical to the photo in the book.

    I took the cake to a meeting for dessert. I thought it was good, the other people at the meeting through it was great. All of them had at least 2 pieces and one guy even had 3. I took one piece home for my mother who thought it was fantastic. I probably would have liked it better with a little ice cream or whipped cream. The cake was extremely tender

    Neither of these cakes are fancy, upscale cakes, but they were both really quite good. Both recipes were ridiculously easy to make and would be good choices for a beginning baker.

    1. Swedish visiting cake (p. 197)
      Simple and easy. Let's say you want to have a little cake, perhaps for tea, with an almond taste. This is it -- tasty and simple.

      I used a 9" round cake pan that I buttered and floured since I don't have a cast iron skillet, as Dorie recommends. I've made an almond torte with ground up blanched almonds. This is easier to make spur of the moment. I recommend it!

      1. Cinammon Chocolate Squares


        This was a winner. I didn't use the instant coffee/espressor for the middle crumb layer. I was going to, but it turns out, instant coffee does go bad (and boy, was it icky). Anyway, the cake was fast and easy. While it was baking, I was able to also whip up the brown sugar bundt cake (will report on that tomorrow, after I've had a taste).

        I used an 8" square pan with parchment on the bottom. I forgot to butter the sides of the dish, but it didn't matter. The cake slid right out. I used 70% Sharfenberger dark chocolate bars, both for the middle as well as the chocolate glaze.

        C and I were working in separate rooms, eating the cake. I just heard a "wow" and then silence. I can't wait to try it again, but this time, with the instant coffee powder.


        1. Brown Sugar Bundt Cake


          This was also very good. Through no fault of the recipes, I think this can be even better.

          My subs: I used 2.5 cups of flour, the almond extract, the pears and 1/2 walnuts. I subbed the walnuts in for the prunes/raisins/dried fruit option. I did not use ground nuts because I didn't feel like getting the food processor out.

          I used 2 bosc pears that were still on the hard side. And, my pieces were bigger than the 1/4 inch dice. I think the cake would have been better if my pears were riper, in smaller pieces and if I added about 1/4 cup more nuts.

          The blog recipe states to let the cake rest for 10 minutes and then to dump it out. I did so but should have waited an additional 10. I just put the broken pieces back on the cake.

          The cake was incredibly moist but it did not taste like caramel (from the blog writer). Funny, even though this is under the cake portion of the book, to me, this is breakfast food. I think it is a very versatile cake that has a lot of possibilities. And, I liked how I could keep my dislikes out of the cake (raisins, ick) and sub in things that I prefer, i.e. nuts.


          1 Reply
          1. re: beetlebug

            Hmmm, this is on my list of recipes to try. Thanks for posting. I thought it looked like a recipe that could easily accommodate subs (and like you, I don't much care for raisins!) and could be a nice, reliable go-to when a bundt cake was desired.

          2. Devil's Food White-Out Cake

            I made this for a friend's birthday dinner. It looked quite spectacular even though I made a few mistakes. I baked the cakes in a 9 inch pan instead of 8 inch pan. So they were very flat. Thankfully my sloppy measuring also resulted in one cake being taller than the other which I could turn into 2 layers. On the smaller cakes i just sliced off enough to even out with the other layers, but still had enough "crumbs" for decoration. I found the icing directions to be very confusing and it only made sense after I read her clarification on eGullet's thread. This was my first attempt at a layer cake and was very pleased with the results.

            1 Reply
            1. re: laonion

              can you paraphrase the clarification about the icing? thanks.

            2. The part I found confusing was when the egg whites were supposed to be beaten and what temp the syrup got added to the egg whites. When the syrup reaches 235 you start beating the egg whites. The egg whites should reach peaks around the time the syrup hits 242. At this point the 2 are combined. The way that the paragraph are separated, I thought the syrup need to be 242 then cooled to 235 prior to adding to the egg whites.

              3 Replies
              1. re: laonion

                Thanks for the icing tip...it helped greatly as I too found the recipe to be confusing as it was written. Quick question, though...did you use a full tablespoon of vanilla extract in the icing, as the recipe calls for? While I was measuring the ingredients I noticed that this seemed like a ridiculously large quantity to be using. But, since I hadn't noticed anyone else mention a misprint in the recipe, I decided to do as was written, though I did err on the cautious side by using slightly less than a tablespoon. Anyway, the texture of the icing was superb, but the flavor was not. There was a strange taste to it, rather unpleasant, that I can only blame on the vanilla. While I am going to chill the now-iced cake, and hope that the flavor dissipates, I'm not even sure that I want to serve this cake given how it tastes. Just thought I'd check back here to see if anyone had experienced this problem too. The only way I can describe this taste is somewhat acrid and just plain "off." Though I didn't use an extremely high quality Madagascar Vanilla Extract, I did use McCormick, which I have not had trouble with in the past, so I am hesistant to point a finger at the quality of the extract I used,(though perhaps in such a large quantity only extremely high quality extract can be used). While I might make this icing in the future, I will only use one teaspoon, and not one tablespoon of extract if I do, since that seems a lot more reasonable. Thank you

                1. re: Laura D.

                  I just made this cake a few days ago, and I also thought a tablespoon of vanilla seemed like way too much, but instead of trusting myself, I went ahead and poured it in. (And I used a high quality extract.) BIG mistake. The icing looked beautiful but tasted weird. I have already made a note in the book to only use a teaspoon of vanilla next time.

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    Glad to hear I wasn't the only one, though sorry to hear that your icing didn't taste to great either. I only wound up having one piece of the cake, which wasn't as horrible as I'd hoped but was by no means great, and I'm not even sure if the entire thing was ever eaten, as no one seemed vamped to have leftovers of it as they normally are with other cakes I make. I'll definitely give the icing another shot, but with only one teaspoon of vanilla. I'd much prefer an icing to be lacking flavor than to taste "weird." Thanks!

              2. Blueberry Crumb Cake (p. 192)

                I made as directed, and think it came out very well. Cake part was light loaded w/ blueberries (I had some frozen) with nice crispy sweet crumb top w/ walnuts.
                But it took me days to make -- I had to go buy buttermilk. Then I mixed up crumb part and put in refrigerator. Then I mixed together flour and spices (adding too much nutmeg -- oops, too much wine!). You could of course make at one time, but I didn't have the time for days. Once a day I would take out the butter and eggs to come to room temp and then found I didn't have the couple hours to make, bake (55-65 mins Dorie says, mine took close to 80).
                A fair amount of work for a 9" cake (a bundt would be more impressive and feel more like it was worth the time and effort) but simple technique w/ a stand mixer. Recommended.
                The book's index is very poor.

                4 Replies
                1. re: NYchowcook

                  Did you think there were enough walnuts? When she discourages you from upping the walnuts to make them more scarce (and hence, more valuable), I was a bit mystified.

                  1. re: Smokey

                    That's the weirdest thing I ever heard....more scarce and therefore more precious? What is she, nostalgic for the Great Depression?

                    1. re: Smokey

                      Maybe she meant that if there are fewer of them in the cake, they would be more of a textural treat rather than overkill.

                      1. re: Smokey

                        yes, I thought walnut to cake ratio was fine. Precious, I guess Dorie would say. Hardly overkill. But fine and satisfying.

                    2. Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

                      I used ground almonds, pears, and golden raisins (thought they sounded better than prunes). The brown sugar flavor really stood out, and over time, the pear flavor and aroma got stronger and perfumey, so the cake smelled really, really good. The raisins sank to the bottom, but since the cake gets flipped over, they were at the top, which was OK - I wonder if they were too heavy from being plumped in hot water. The pear pieces were evenly distributed. With 1 cup butter and 2 cups brown sugar, this is one heavy, rich, very sweet, super moist cake that keeps very well. Warning: it is hard to lift! I thought this cake was delicious.

                      Coconut Tea Cake

                      Since the batter has 2 cups sugar, I used unsweetened coconut and didn't bother toasting it. I thought the sweetness level was just right. Toasting the coconut probably would have enhanced the flavor, but it was tasty anyway. I used the optional dark rum, but didn't really taste it (it's only 2 tsp), but it may have added a background note. I would not try substituting lite coconut milk for regular because there are only 4 tbsp of butter, so I think the cake needs the coconut fat. It was easy to make and I would probably make it again. Next time I might try a variation, such as coconut lime, since the cake is fairly plain.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: Anya L

                        Mmmm, brown sugar bundt cake. I've been thinking about putting this one on my list of recipes to try. I like the fact that she calls for ground nuts in it, and I would do the sub of apples for pears. I just gotta find somebody to dump it on before I make it! (Don't need a 20# bundt cake sitting around my house, thank you very much!)

                        1. re: Smokey

                          I'm just down the Pike, Smokey -- dump away!

                        2. re: Anya L

                          I have made the Coconut Tea cake twice recently, and consider it a perfect cake. I simply adore the flavor and texture. It tastes like coconut but not strong flavor, that seems to improve over a couple days. I add cardamom because, well, I love cardamom.
                          It's not an OMG cake for most who ate it, but I think it's a delight. I use unsweetened untoasted coconut flakes and it works out fine.
                          I love making a bundt cake -- it's so impressive and pretty. And get this: it took me 27 minutes to prepare before popping into the oven! What's not to love?

                          1. re: NYchowcook

                            I love cakes like that. Thanks for pointing it out.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              hmmm - 27 minutes, that's a cake to add to my short list. :^)

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                I'm digging the coconut with cardamom angle.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  I, too, am a lover of cardamom. I add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom to my cup of morning coffee.

                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                    There's a terrific Finnish sand cake (sour cream and cardamom) in the Time-Life Scandinavian Cooking book...

                                    1. re: Cynsa

                                      Cynsa, if you love cardamom you should research recipes for gulab jamuns (an Indian sweet). I used to have a good one, but lost it.

                                      1. re: souschef

                                        yums, yes! my neighbor makes it for me; it's very sweet with the syrup. When I learn to make it, then I can forego the soaking syrup.

                                        1. re: Cynsa

                                          It is dry without the syrup; it definitely needs the syrup. I like the stuff warmed up in the syrup.

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            The first time I had this was at the Rajput in Toronto a million years ago - we used to call them wet doughnut holes! Like ras malai even more - also cardamom.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              A million years ago?

                                              I told you a thousand times to stop exaggerating !

                          2. I made the brown sugar bundt cake today. Let me start by saying that this is incredibly delicious. I'll keep working on it, despite the little problem I'll describe at end.

                            I did a blend of the primary recipe the book has and the nut variation in the right hand column. I used 3/4 c. ground hazelnuts with the flour. I also used 1 c. chopped toasted hazelnuts and the 1/4 tsp almond extract. The recipe calls for omitting the fruit if you go with the nutty version. Instead, I used two pears but omitted the prunes. This is really a wonderful combo. The hazelnuts and pears play off each other quite nicely.

                            The cake has a beautiful crust to it, a nice crumb, incredible flavor. After each having a (large) piece, the two of us have been munching on the crust. This is easy for us to do, because, well, the cake fell apart when I unmolded it. <sigh>

                            Most of my pears sunk to the bottom of the cake. I'm new to baking and haven't done a lot of chopped fruit in cakes, but I think perhaps I cut the pieces too large. Would love ideas from others on this. When I unmolded the cake, it kind of separated right around where most of the pear pieces were. So, I have a decapitated cake sitting on the cooling rack with pieces of pear sticking up all over the top. Again, advice is most welcome. I let it cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Should I have waited longer?

                            I used my rubber spatula to scrape the bundt pan and basically have a bowl of this beautiful crust with a thin layer of crumb attached to it. It would probably be great with some high quality vanilla ice cream...

                            Despite the visual failure of the cake, we'll probably eat the whole thing. In fact, that's the biggest problem. It's just too ugly to share with others. This is such an incredibly good cake that I want to try again...and again...until I get it right for company.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: debbiel

                              I'm not sure if this was your problem, but did you butter and flour the pan well? With bundt cakes, all those crevices make it both more of a PITA, and more important to do. My impression is that this is true even if you have a 'non-stick' bundt pan. Cutting the pears smaller might have helped as well, but people describing the 'sinking additions' phenomenon with all kinds of (small) things added in to bundt cakes (e.g. chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)

                              Thanks for posting a review of it. you're the second person to post a positive review of this cake and it has really caught my eye. Maybe MartyL will be getting a bundt cake at some point...

                              1. re: Smokey

                                I did butter and flour the pan but perhaps I didn't do that well enough. I might try using a plain tube pan next time. We've still really enjoyed the cake (too much!), so I'll get this figured out.

                              2. re: debbiel

                                I cut the pears into 1/4" dice and they did not sink. I believe I let the cake cool longer than 10 minutes before unmolding (maybe 30 min?), but can't remember for sure. Mine did not stick at all. The pear pieces may have caused yours to stick more. In case you don't want to eat the whole thing now, the cake does freeze quite well. I look forward to defrosting a piece soon!

                                1. re: Anya L

                                  Thanks for the tips Anya. I think I'll try this again for Christmas morning.

                                2. re: debbiel

                                  You could try dredging the cut-up fruit in a little of the flour from the recipe - just toss together until lightly coated - this is a trick of my mother's that seems to work.

                                  1. re: debbiel

                                    I made this cake again today, with the same adjustments as the first attempt. This time, however, I cut the pears even smaller and I tossed them in ground hazelnuts before mixing them into the batter. The cake unmolded beautifully and was delicious again. This will become a regular for us, I think. It was quite popular at dinner this afternoon.

                                    Happy holidays all.

                                    1. re: debbiel

                                      Sounds more like a bundt cake problem-- "nonstick" is such a lie! the more intricate the mold the more nightmareish the release.

                                    2. Has anyone made the French Yogurt Cake? I tried it today and like most of the rest of the recipes in this cookbook, it went together in a snap. Unfortunately, the end results wasn't so hot. The cake did not rise like it should have and the crumb, while moist, was pretty dense and not especially cake-like. Remarkably, the flavor is still pretty good.

                                      Leavening in this recipe is baking powder and I know the baking powder I used was good (i.e. active, hadn't lost it's poof-power). And I know I followed the directions as written and made no substitutions, nor did I forget to add anything. So, I'm a little at a loss as to what caused the failure.

                                      A friend made this recipe yesterday for a holiday party and got a good rise out of it. His final product and mine weren't even close to being the same. I wonder what I did........

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        I'm more of a cook than a baker but am branching out. I've been wanting to try recipes from this book after reading such rave reviews on these boards.

                                        My son's first birthday is April 9th and we're having a little family gathering at home to celebrate - my folks and brother and maybe my husband's folks, sister and her family...as well as our 5 year old. I scanned the pages of the book and thought this French Yogurt Cake sounded lovely and pretty straight forward. Now I'm concerned after reading Dining Diva's review. Anyone else have a similar snafu? Is this not a great choice for a novice baker? If not, what might be a better one?

                                        1. re: isadorasmama

                                          Here a link to the Tuesdays with Dorie cooking group, they made this cake a couple weeks ago and there's 73 responses on the results.
                                          Haven't made it myself, but that would be a good place to start!

                                          As for easy birthday cake recipes, I've had great success with Nigella's Buttermilk Cake, from How to be a Domestic Goddess. Between the baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk, it is very forgiving, and is moist and delicious.

                                      2. I made the Black and White Cake and had mixed results. I absolutely loved the chocolate filling; it was like a dark rich homemade pudding and I could eat gallons of it. The cake didn't work so well for me though. It didn't rise very well in my nine inch cake pans so it would not cut easily into layers and also, it seemed rubbery and tough. Perhaps I overbaked it or beat it too long. I tossed that cake and started over with the Perfect Party Cake baked in 8 inch cake pans. This recipe did the trick. It is a wonderful version of a white cake and pairs very well with the chocolate filling. I also did not care much for the Black and White Cake whipped cream and white chocolate frosting as I thought it was an odd combination taste wise but I will just try a different icing next time. I cannot recommend the chocolate filling/perfect party cake combination enough--very very good!

                                        1. Ok, old thread, but on the basis of having this book laying around the house in December, the +1 requested the 'cover recipe" (Devil's Food White-Out Cake, p.247) for his birthday (in April!). I figured I would post my impressions of it here for continuity.

                                          I liked the cake, but didn't love it. It makes a very rich, very chocolatey cake. However, I had a difficult time getting it to bake properly. In fact, I ended up tossing one of the layers, because it wasn't baked through (bizarrely, even though the other layer, baked at the same time, was). Yes, I did the insert thin knife test, etc., etc. I don't know what was up with it, but it was seriously underbaked. Now, I'll admit, that could have been user error (erm). The 4 oz of finely chopped choclate that you add at the end really make it very chocolatey. For a long list of reasons not worth going into, we weren't able to eat the cake for a week, so it was well wrapped and in the fridge (not freezer, sigh). Therefore, the texture suffered through no fault of greenspan's, and I can't really comment on texture.

                                          I didn't use the filling she recommends, because the +1 wanted a vanilla buttercream, not a meringue frosting. So, I just made an Italian meringue buttercream that was well received.

                                          I would make this cake again, but I'll admit to not having much experience making devil's food cakes. I would try a few other recipes to see if this one is really top dog, but I can say it would be a contender.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Smokey

                                            Hi Smokey,
                                            I posted above on this thread about the problems I had with the icing for this cake (seemingly due to a misprint in the book) but never really commented on the cake itself. Though I've only made it a single time, I did think the cake was very good, but I wouldn't call it great. My go-to chocolate cake is the one on the back of the Hershey's cocoa container. I've never had a problem with that recipe and it is incredibly simple. If I'm remembering correctly, one of the differences I found between the Hershey's cake and Greenspan's was that the Hershey's cake has a tighter crumb, if that makes sense. Greenspan's seemed a bit more fragile, not surprising considering how easily it crumbles to make the crumb decoration for the cake. So again, I'd need to give it another go-ahead to really comment, and I can say for certain that it wasn't bad in anyway, but I must say that, upon first impression, it didn't blow me away either. Thanks!

                                            1. re: Laura D.

                                              Hey, thanks Laura D! I had seen your post on the recipe, and noticed you focused on the frosting. Since I hadn't used the frosting, I just figured it made more sense to post here. I didn't bother with that breaking the layer up business. I thought it looked at best, ok, on the cover photo and in real life I had the feeling I would think it was simply messy looking. If I wanted to go for that kind of look, I would just do some simply chocolate shavings. Bottom line, though, I agree with you, it's a bit too fragile of a cake. Thanks for the Hershey's recipe rec!

                                          2. As long as the post is back in the action, I'll give a thumbs up for the banana bundt cake. Easy and delicious. Oh, and the brown sugar bundt cake with pears and hazelnuts remains a favorite around here.

                                            1. I made the cake and chocolate filling from the B&W cake and loved both. I made Madelienes, Earl Grey and Lavender. The latter due to the fact that I learned infusing the butter in this recipe. I've also made more world peace cookies than I'd care to admit. Everyone loves them. I even tried increasing the salt and that was good too. I made pecan shortbreads, although I don't remember the correct name. I love putting the shortbreads in a gallon ziplock, chilling them and then cutting them into squares with a pizza wheel. This is so mess-free. I made the Far Breton. It is very custardy and rich but wonderful. I ended up dusting the figs with flour to keep them suspended in the mix and I cut them into smaller pieces.

                                              If you want to see more reviews and pictures of the dishes - go here...

                                              1. I had some challenges with the Perfect Party Cake, namely that the layers were too thin to be cut in half and that the buttercream was too slick to be spread on the raspberry jam. It occurred to me too late that I should have spread the buttercream directly onto the opposite cake layer and then placed one on top of the other. The cake was delicious and the lemon flavor shone through in both the cake and the icing.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Velda Mae

                                                  I thought that all her recipes would come out great, except me too the cake layers didn't rise enough to be cut in two. I got two cakes of 2 cm each. The first time I used regular flour from not reading the recipe properly, the recipe calls for cake flour. The second time made it with the cake flour but it didn't make any difference. I would love to try this cake again, a third time, but what is the ingredient that it was omitted on the list? The buttercream was too soft, I will add less lemon juice next time, hope it still comes out lemony delicious. I assembled the cake with the two layers, it was still very good, the taste of lemon and raspberry, but would have loved the cake to come out like in the photo.

                                                2. Continuing my love affair with this cookbook, I made (well, made part of, and supervised the making of) the Rum Drenched Vanilla Cakes this evening, and it was delicious, easy, and got rave reviews. I say "it" even though the recipe is for two loaf cakes because I wanted a Bundt cake, and so used the recipe to make one Bundt instead of two loafs, and it worked well. There was probably a little too much batter in the pan, which made me nervous, but with a 65 minute cooking time (the recipe calls for 55-60) it was just fine (the slightly too high cake issue may have been because of my sous chef using too much baking powder). Next time I'd reserve some of the batter, but only a bit. It's a really easy cake to put together, and the rum syrup makes for a very moist and flavorful cake. This is definitely my new favorite recipe for rum pound cake, and I have a feeling I'll be making it a lot, since my family loved it.

                                                  1. Classic Banana Bundt Cake, p. 190

                                                    My go-to recipe for banana bread has been Cooks Illustrated, but this is a new favorite for banana cake. Dorie credits it as her friend's Ellen Einstein's favorite banana cake recipe and I can see why. I used a silicon bundt pan which I sprayed with Pam (I find I still get sticking even with the silicon), and a Kitchen-Aid mixer for the batter. Butter is beaten until creamy, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and then mashed bananas added. Then dry ingredients and sour cream or yogurt (I used yogurt). The batter was really light and fluffy. It's baked 65-75 minutes at 350, though I found mine ready at an hour. She recommends wrapping it and letting it sit out on the counter overnight, which I did. Moist and delicious, this recipe is another Dorie Greenspan keeper.

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      I got a sexy new Williams Sonoma bundt pan and had all the ingredients for this cake so I gave it a whirl. Very easy, very tasty, and a real crowd pleaser. Check out my sexy picture, I love this pan.

                                                        1. re: yamalam

                                                          You weren't kidding about that pan. Wow, beautiful. How do you grease it to make sure it comes out right, the Baker's spray?

                                                          1. re: yamalam

                                                            I have to add to the chorus: that is a gorgeous cake, and indeed a sexy pan. It reminds me of a Frank Ghery building!

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Caitlin: I totally agree. I also think you could make a living in Bilbao making cakes for people visiting Ghery's museum there. Of course you'd have to put out the big bucks for anything from Williams Sonoma.

                                                            2. re: yamalam

                                                              It's the kind of cake that everyone must see before it's cut!
                                                              I like this shape too-- http://www.surlatable.com/product/id/...
                                                              It's for bread, but I think it would work -- ?

                                                              Can I assume if it's metal, I can bake a cake in it? Even big old Jello molds?

                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                I was looking at a pan very similar to that in cookware shop several years ago and asked the staff the exact same question. Could a bake a cake in it? They said yes, but that their experience using that style pan for cakes was that the batter baked too unevenly because the deep indents didn't distribute the heat to the center of the batter very well. That was a number of years ago and these may have been reengineered for better heat distribution...or the staff people I talked to could have been totally off base ;-).

                                                                If could always just get one and try.

                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                  Seems like the heat distribution would affect bread too--
                                                                  but experimenting is probably the only answer!

                                                              2. re: yamalam

                                                                WOW! Now that's a bundt pan I could love!
                                                                Gosh the uses one could do with this, so many! I see polenta with a beautiful sauce on this... I want one!

                                                                1. re: yamalam

                                                                  yamalam, how did you grease this, and do you think it affected the flavor or texture of the outside of the cake?

                                                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                                                    I buttered the pan carefully with a pastry brush, then floured. It came out very very easily after I let it cool about 5 minutes. I don't think the extra butter affected the exterior of this cake because it is a pretty moist cake anyway. According to a few reviews on the Cookware board, Williams Sonoma bundt pans in general are easy to dislodge cakes from. Call me a sucker, but I say this was $35 well spent-

                                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                                  I think Carole Walter's banana chocolate chip bundt cake blows this recipe out of the water.

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                    Do you know which book it is in? The only one I have is Carole Walter's "Great Cakes"; hope it's that one!

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      The recipe is in Carole Walters' book "Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More."

                                                                      I can tell you that I do a lot of baking, but I have very small family of three and sometimes stuff I make never gets finished. But this cake ALWAYS disappears in record time. And the recipe works flawlessly. I have hundreds of baking books and only make a few things more than once or twice. But I have made this cake dozens of times already. It's THAT good.

                                                                    2. re: flourgirl

                                                                      flourgirl, the online Carole Walter's recipe looks great, but it calls for banana extract. I'm not usually a big fan...is the flavor really pronounced?

                                                                      1. re: bear

                                                                        I use Frontier Natural Flavors alcohol free banana flavor in this cake and I can't detect it at all in the final product. All it does is intensify the flavors of the bananas in the cake and if you follow Carole's advice in the recipe and use REALLY ripe bananas, there is so much pure banana flavor that I really don't think the extract is that essential.

                                                                  2. Bill's Big Carrot Cake p. 253

                                                                    A huge success! I am throwing away all other recipes for carrot cake, and never buying one again, either. The cake itself is chunky, moist, and not too sweet, with walnuts, shredded coconut, raisins, and of course, carrots. It's iced with a simple butter-cream cheese-sugar-lemon frosting that came out a tad too sweet for my liking (recipe calls for 1 lb confectioners sugar, next time I'll start with 2/3 and add to taste) but was much loved by everyone else. I topped it with some shaved carrots (stole that idea from someone on tastespotting), and it was a beautiful special occaision party cake, as well as being highly delicious. I can see what all the Dorie fuss is about. This was my first recipe from this book, and I can't wait to try more.

                                                                    1. Chocolate Armagnac Cake – The Cake That Got Me Fired, p. 279

                                                                      This has an entertaining history with Dorie getting fired from her first professional job. Out of boredom, she improvised on the restaurant's popular chocolate almond torte, substituting ground pecans for almonds, and prunes soaked in armagnac for whiskey-soaked raisins. I thought it was delicious!

                                                                      I didn’t have an 8-inch springform, so baked the cake in an 8-inch square. I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate, and substituted cognac for the armagnac. Minced prunes are cooked with water, then cognac added and flamed. It took a few minutes for the flames to die down, and then this is cooled. Egg yolks and sugar are whisked, melted chocolate and butter added, then ground pecans, flour, salt, and whipped egg whites folded in. The glaze is made with melted chocolate, confectioner’s sugar, and butter. She says to cook it until a knife from the center is still "streaky". Mine was clean and I thought I over-baked the cake, but it was still nice and moist.

                                                                      I was in charge of dessert for dinner at ArizonaGirl’s, and brought this along with a bottle of black muscat dessert wine. Would definitely make this again, especially for a chocaholic. This was so chocolatey and rich, velvety when served at room temp, and perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I minced the prunes and you couldn’t really tell they were there, except for the sweetness and moistness they contributed to the cake. Another winner from this book.

                                                                      1. Tiramisu Cake, p. 266

                                                                        This was really, really good! And easier than my normal tiramisu recipe! Each component was fabulous by itself and I could see using any of them for other experiments too. She says that you can use either Brandy, Kahlua, or Amaretto for the liquor in the soaking/ filling/ frosting... for once in my life, I had all 3, so I chose to use Amaretto, and it was excellent in this, if a little subtle. The only thing that I wished there was more of was some of the chocolate bits, which you layer after the soaking liquid and filling, and before the next layer of cake. I could see maybe splitting the two layers into four, but the cake was very moist, so that might be more of a pain than it's worth. I would definitely make this again!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                          I made this cake too, recently-- didn't think to post here, put it somewhere else, I guess. I took a pic which I'll post here also. I thought it was a "really really" recipe too. I used Cognac (super brandy!). As you can see, the day was way too warm for the frosting (mascarpone/whipped cream) but I agree it's one to make again (& again) -- experiments will be delicious.

                                                                          I like cakes that call for soaking -- tres leches, bundt-types that use a sweet-tart glaze, etc. So I liked brushing the layers with liquid.

                                                                        2. Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake, p.180

                                                                          This is lovely -- the buttery/nutty batter gets divided so half of it can be mixed with a coffee and chocolate flavoring blend. You then have 2 batters to marble and mingle (which I didn't do very artfully). The cake is delicious (Mr. blue room said so too).
                                                                          It would be well worth doing full size as a bundt cake, candied walnuts to garnish as in the cookbook photo. Dorie G. says it keeps and freezes well.