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Oct 31, 2010 08:37 PM

November/December 2010 BCTM: READY FOR DESSERT: Cakes

Our baking cookbook for November/December 2010 is READY FOR DESSERT, by David Lebovitz.

Please use this thread to discuss Ready for Dessert Cake recipes. When posting your review, include the source. If the source is a book, include the book name and page number; and if it you found your recipe online, post a link.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Guiness-Gingerbread cupcakes, p36

    Just delicious and very easy to put together. You basically mix guiness, molasses and vegetable oil in a large pan and bring to the boil. Then add some baking soda and whisk - the mixture froths up and then subsides. Leave to cool, then add two eggs, and a mixture of sieved plain flour, cinnamon, cloves and ground ginger. Whisk until just combined and then add chopped candied ginger. I used preserved stem ginger as that's what I had. Bake for 20 minutes.

    The frosting is very easy - butter, icing sugar, lime juice and a little milk. Or it should have been - my KitchenAid stand mixer appears to be broken (grrr - £200 of kit and I've only had it a few years). I used a hand-held mixer instead.

    I took these to a party and to work and they were universally loved. Very gingery and moist, and the icing was lovely. My colleague said he could have eaten a bowl of that by itself!

    11 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      I LOVE this gingerbread. I think it originated with Dona Abramson and Stuart Tarabour at the Bright Food Shop in Manhattan (now closed). Claudia Fleming later made it famous when she was chef at Gramercy Tavern. That's where I got the recipe.

      Wow! I've never heard of a Kitchen Aid breaking down. I managed to mangle my original bowl and got a replacement online...maybe it was on E-Bay.

      BTW, does Lebovitz have any persimmon recipes? I just got a bagful from a friend's garden.

      1. re: oakjoan

        It's not actually broken, thank goodness. The fuse had gone.

        1. re: greedygirl

          Tell me more about this fuse. I have a dead KitchenAid and assumed I would need to replace the whole motor.

          1. re: smtucker

            Have you ever had your KA serviced? Our KA is quite old, and when it stopped working, we wondered what to do with it. I saw a little machine repair shop in a neighboring village, and I decided to bring it in. Our KA is about 30+ years old, and in all that time, it had never been serviced. In addition to replacing a minor part, the guy at the shop lubricated the entire machine, and now it works like a dream. You don't have to send it to KA or anywhere special; just find a local place that repairs things and you may be surprised by how easy it is to get repaired.

            1. re: smtucker

              smtucker: I think, although I may be wrong, that gg means that a fuse blew in her outlet.

              1. re: smtucker

                It was the fuse in the plug that had gone. Mr GG replaced it (very easy and cheap) and it worked again perfectly. I have no idea if you have the same system in the US where all plugs have fuses in them (I assume you probably do) but it's worth a try.

                1. re: greedygirl

                  When you say" the plug" do you mean the plug at the end of the cord of the appliance or do you mean the wall outlet?

                  In the US, for the most part, we have a "fuse box" that's a cabinet imbedded in the wall in a central place (usually the basement). If you blow a fuse anywhere in the house, you have to go to the fuse box and figure out which one blew, and replace it. More and more houses these days have breaker boxes now instead of fuse boxes.

                  But, are you saying every wall outlet in your house has its own fuse?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    We have a fuse box too, but in addition, pretty much every plug on every appliance will have one as well.

                    This link explains all:


            2. re: oakjoan

              oakjoan, this is a link to David L's James Beard recipe for persimmon bread:
     Reading it sure makes me wish I had some persimmons!

              Also, in "Ready for Dessert" , there is a persimmon *cake* recipe, cream cheese icing.

            3. re: greedygirl

              A batch of mini-Guiness-Gingerbread cupcakes is in the oven right now! So cute and tiny!


              1. re: greedygirl

                So, I wanted to report back on my minies, which, I think took 12 minutes in the oven and yielded about 36 mini cupcakes of about 1 TBSP of batter each. Funnily enough, the lime icing is what people commented on in the crowd I served them to, too.

                I used a handheld mixer (as greedygirl did) and used nonfat milk (because that's what I have) instead of whole milk. My icing was really loose. I just dolloped it on, then spread it with a butter knife. I don't know if the icing could hold a shape if piped through an icing bag. I guess the nonfat milk was a mistake. Still tasted delicious!

                Also, ran out of molasses, so, I did half about 3/4's molasses and 1/4 basswood honey. Still tasted great and was lovely, gingery, and moist.


              2. I made a half recipe of this nice dessert. Instead of a 9 inch springform, just a little 6 inch (2 inch high) aluminum cake pan. It's cherry jam inside of an almond-y cookie-like crust. The dough is made in a food processor so it took seconds. It chills for an hour, then rolled out into top and bottom crusts. The crust is a little tricky/sticky but not impossible to handle.
                The crust (flour, ground almonds, butter, sugar, egg, almond and vanilla extracts, salt and baking powder) is delicious by itself, but I think the jam filling is all-important. David Lebovitz specifies "good quality sour cherry jam". I used Bonne Maman cherry preserves--quite tart with strong cherry flavor. You mix the jam with (a little) booze and spread it over the bottom crust. Top crust is pressed on gently and it's baked 40 minutes (My 1/2 recipe took the same amount of time--it was a compact little thing.)
                David L. mentions the other version of this cake contains pastry cream instead of jam--if you're interested, I found "Gateau Basque" made with pastry cream in Paula Wolfert's "The Cooking of South-West France" pg. 307.
                I really really like this -- but like I said, be sure you have a knockout filling.

                1. Racines Cake, p30

                  Omigod this is killer good. Absolutely amazing and we all loved it. So much so that three people had seconds, at the end of a pretty big meal. The brilliant thing about this cake is it manages to be both rich and light at the same time.

                  It's relatively straightforward to put together. Melt chocolate, butter and espresso in a double boiler. When smooth, remove from the heat and add vanilla extract.

                  Whisk together 6 large egg yolks with sugar in a stand mixer until light and creamy. I used an electric hand whisk at this point because I wanted to use my KitchenAid for the next step, which is to whisk 6 egg whites on a low speed until they begin to hold their shape. Then add sugar and continue to whisk at a higher speed until soft peaks form.

                  Fold the beaten egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then fold in half of the egg whites. Then add the rest of the egg whites and fold until all the egg is incorporated. Pour the whole lot into a 23cm springform tin (mine was 24cm) which you have greased and dusted with cocoa powder. Scatter with cacao nibs and bake at 175C until just set in the middle - about 25 minutes. This rose quite a bit but sank down again when it came out of the oven, which I assume is what it is meant to do because mine looked like the one in the picture. Allow to cool completely and serve.

                  As I said, this was fantastic. I really loved the way the crunchy cacao nibs contrasted with the light, almost moussy consistency of the cake. Everyone was amazed that I'd actually made the dessert and not purchased it from some fancy patisserie.

                  I'm gushing here but this cake really was that good. Will be making it again - especially as I have a HUGE bag of cacao nibs (which weren't that easy to find - went all the way to Selfridges Food Hall which didn't have them, only to find that my local excellent wholefood store stocks them!).

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: greedygirl

                    I love reading posts as enthusiastic as this one. I just cook for 2, but this looks easy to halve.
                    Are the cacao nibs something you'd snack on, or put in granola? I've never tasted one.

                    1. re: blue room

                      I'm not sure you'd want to eat cacao nibs on their own - they're roasted bit of cocoa bean, so they are unsweetened, but crunchy and toasty and chocolate. You could add them to cookies or anything where you might want that texture and bit of chocolate flavor, but don't need the addition to be sweet on its own. I just got Alice Medrich's new cookie book (which looks fabulous - every recipe sounds delicious, and I'm barely into it yet), and she adds them to butter cookies, along with nuts, for example.

                      1. re: blue room

                        They're a superfood apparently, and definitely something you might put in granola. I might be doing that myself actually with my huge bag of them.

                      2. re: greedygirl

                        When I make cakes that have egg whites whipped with sugar in them, I do the whites first and transfer them to another bowl and proceed with the recipe. This is only if they have sugar in them, it stabilizes the foam so if you work relatively quickly it doesn't really matter they were done first. (I hate washing and drying a mixer bowl midstream).

                      3. Fresh Ginger Cake, p42

                        Another absolutely fabulous recipe from this book. Lebovitz says it's his most renowned dessert and I can see why - moist, spicy and delicious, and pretty easy to put together. The recipe is on Epicurious.


                        We all loved this. One of my friends said it was the nicest cake she'd ever eaten! Another asked me to make it for a Christmas party she's having in a couple of weeks. I served it with creme fraiche into which I'd stirred some shop-bought lemon curd, as an approximation of the accomapaniment which Lebovitz suggests. It was really, really good.

                        Highly recommended.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          This recipe is in Lebovitz's 1999 book Room for Dessert, and I cannot count the number of times I have made it since then. It is truly outstanding. While I have made the mayer lemon curd he suggests, I have also purchased lemon curd at Trader Joe's and enjoyed the same effect. One suggestion: The cake is not that pretty..... I usually place a small paper cut-out with a loop of tape facing up on the cake and then dust the cake with 10X. When you lift the paper cut-out, the cake has a pretty white dusting with the shape still brown. I have done a star, a heart, a gingerbread man, etc. This cake is so easy to make (no filling, no frosting!) and it is delicious.

                          1. re: phillybakingqueen

                            I've got some edible gold leaf that I might use to pretty it up for Xmas...

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Confectioner's sugar (known as icing sugar in the UK and Canada).

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Fresh Ginger Cake

                              As per above, everyone loved it, much acclaim, copies of recipe provided. Yum!

                              However, it was rather tedious chopping the ginger finely by hand. I wonder if the food processor would do a good job? Other than that, it was easy to put together.

                              One question: my cake made rather a peak in the center. I flipped it over on the tray to display the flatter side. It looked okay, and it tasted great. But what could I do differently to avoid conical cakes in the future?

                              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                I used my mini Cuisinart to chop the ginger, which worked perfectly.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  And now, thanks to Santa Claus, I have one!

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    I've been looking for a use for mine. Good idea.

                                  2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                    There's a product called magi-cake strips, which are bands you wet and attach to the outside of your cake pan, which help the cake bake more evenly and not dome at the top by keeping the outside of the pan cooler. You can buy them from cake supply shops and online.


                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      Cool, thanks. Though I think I'd be more inclined to the Rose Levy Berenbaum silicon bands or just making the homemade kind, which is probably the most sensible given how infrequently I bake. Assuming I remember to do so!


                                    2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                      a really great tasting cake, was a big hit on Christmas with whipped cream, and after. It was a little highter in the center but that did not bother us at all. The batter seemed thin and I was dubious but it baked up just fine. minichop worked well to chop the ginger.

                                  3. GreedyGirl, you've reviewed the two cakes i had bookmarked to try - Racines and Ginger!

                                    I can't wait to make one of these for family over the holidays. Any thoughts on which would be more holiday appropriate? I'm leaning towards the Ginger Cake.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: newfoodie

                                      Ginger cake is more Christmassy, I'd say. I've been asked to bring it to a Xmas party in fact.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Perfect, that decides it! I'm looking forward to making it,