Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let them eat cake

I'm a desultory cook; uninspired, rather resentful that the onus of meals defaults onto my leave-me-alone-and-let-me-read shoulders. Of course I breastfed my babies; it was the easiest way to avoid the kitchen entirely.

Unfortunately, my husband would rather subsist on peanut butter sandwiches three meals a day than cook, and neither of the kids turned into a hybrid vigor in the culinary department, so I trudge on, turning to Fanny Farmer or one of the spiralbound church- or community-group- issued publications from my hometown when I feel obligated to produce something that's more than merely edible. Pathetic, c'est moi.

But for Christmas I got a KitchenAid stand mixer and after a few days of admiring its color, I concluded that to justify the amount of counter space it was consuming I'd better learn to use it. Goodbye, baked potatoes; hello, mashed potatoes/winter squash medley. L. was interested enough in the machine to take over washing its bowl and the beater every time I made something. When I mentioned I'd like to make sourdough bread, he grew some starter that might have been of use to Alexander Fleming; through persistence, we now have a couple jars of starter in the refrigerator that might make a few decent loaves of bread.

My biggest success so far has been a Devil's Food White-Out cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, a book I spotted on the new books cart several days back and that we've all drooled over since I brought it home. As you can see from the photo, I went a little overboard in covering the icing with chocolate crumbs, but oh my, did that cake taste good. It didn't last 24 hours. Maybe I'll make another this weekend.

Or try a new recipe.


  1. I don't know that I've ever commented before, but I read your blog regularly. I just had to leave a note because I _love_ Dorie Greenspan's baking book. I, too, was drawn by that beautiful cake on the cover. I made it for my son's first birthday, and it was perfect for digging into with his hands.

    My other favorite recipes are the World Peace Cookies and the Cream Scones (which I alter into cranberry orange scones). My sister claims that the Lots of Ways Banana Cake is the best banana baked good she's ever had. :)

  2. Hi, Carrie. Thanks for leaving a comment and letting me know you're out there-now I know about your blog!

    I just read the recipe for the World Peace cookies and they are now officially on my to-do list for the weekend.

  3. Is there such a thing as too many chocolate crumbs?
    The cake looks delicious.

    Where did you find a recipe for your sourdough starter. This bread business is new to me, but I think I'm ready to try something other than honey oatmeal.

  4. By the way, is that the color you got? Cobalt blue? My, that's pretty!

  5. Yes, I got cobalt blue.

    We've made two starters, recipes at the links:


    Give me a few days to make bread and I'll let you know which works best.

  6. Oh, my, I'm SO hungry and that cake looks great ...

  7. Congratulations! I hope the mixer becomes a kitchen workhorse for you, as it is for me. The cake looks wonderful, and congratulations for trying bread. I've really enjoyed recipes from Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country for baked goods. They're magazines, but they also publish books and collections.

  8. Kitchen Aid mixer + Dorie Greenspan's book = a wonderful combination! I got the mixer for my birthday last year and the cookbook for Christmas. That mixer is actually kind of addictive, I've found. It definitely makes cooking a lot more fun.

  9. "I want to be the girl with the most cake.."

    Looks delicious. Nice job.

  10. I hate cooking too and like your husband I could live on peanut butter sandwiches three meals a day and when I needed to mix things up cereal would work just fine. So my husband does the cooking, bless him!

    Your cake looks yummy. And I agree with Crissy, you can never have too many chocolate crumbs.

  11. I don't like being in the kitchen much, either. That cake looks scrumptious! My mother had an old standing kitchen-aid mixer and I've always longed for one although my small apartment doesn't have the space now.

  12. I was dying to ask what color, but then I read in the comments that it's cobalt blue. Sounds beautiful. I haven't heard of Doris Greenspan's cookbook, but I can see I need to look for it. I love my KitchenAid.

    Your cake looks delicious. And hooray on the bread making. I made some dilly bread over the holidays and my family and I loved it. (I don't even like dill pickles, but this was great.)

    You may want to check out my husband's new blog, Fiddling With My Food. He's taking on cooking since he retired.

  13. Okay, that first paragraph made me laugh. I breastfeed for exactly the same reason.

  14. Kitchen Aid stand mixers can definitely act as an inspiration. ;)

    Cooking may well be my one and only 'girly'-type love & skill. Our Kitchen Aid gets quite a workout!


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