This December I have been baking my way through Christina Tosi’s All About Cake cookbook. I first discovered Christina Tosi’s cake magic on Netflix in the dessert season (Vol. 4) of The Chef’s Table. Then when I was in Washington, DC my buddy Carole went with me to try her new Milk Bar (see earlier post). Carole gifted me the cookbook for my birthday. I sat down immediately upon opening the package and saw about a dozen recipes I wanted to try. Starting with the pistachio bundt cake above. Yes it really is Shrek green. It’s also uses about $20 worth of pistachios!
Next was the apple cider donut crock pot pudding. It required a slight substitution of delicious cinnamon sugar donuts from Marie’s Do-Nuts (Sacramento, CA). They have to be “day-old” so buy extra as you there will be some attrition. I shared the finished donut pudding around and everyone found it comforting and delicious. My neighbors and friends are definitely the early beneficiaries of this baking program. I couldn’t possibly eat all of this cake myself.
Any family gathering also provided an opportunity to try another recipe. This is the cherry cola bundt cake that I took to the Pieper Christmas at Auntie J’s. My version came out darker because the cola extract I ordered on Amazon gave everything a dark cola tint. The molasses and half dozen eggs made it rich and dark and yummy.
I nearly wore myself out with the 3 cake sprint over Christmas. I baked 2 cakes on the day before Christmas Eve. Then I made one more cake on Christmas morning to take to a family dinner. Having no elves to clean up or even a dishwasher, I found myself really tired of bundt pan scrubbing.
I also had to run to the grocery store twice–once to buy more butter, and once to buy more eggs. These recipes require a lot of both. Other than a few more exotic ingredients such as lemon extract. I now know how relatively simple it is to make an interesting and delicious cake, and I don’t know why I’d ever use a cake mix again.
My aunt gave me this sort of loaf shaped bundt cake pan that she doesn’t use. It was perfect for the Mint Julep bundt cake. I forgot to dress with mint leaves (still in my crisper drawer). My mom really enjoyed this cake for Jesus’ birthday.
My final cake was the raspberry bundt with grapefruit glaze. I also made homemade whip cream. This cake was a big hit also. The grapefruit glaze offers a little zing. Always the texture of the cakes is dense and delicious.
I’m taking a break now (until 2019) and having fruit for dessert for awhile! There are more recipes I want to try. In the winter when the weather makes it challenging to get outdoors as much for adventure or travel, it can be fun to watch a baking challenge from Britain on television and then try our own hand at a new recipe.
Christmas is an inspiring time for baking. I usually focus on pie but I never liked mincemeat pie. Until I spent a Christmas season in New Zealand and fell in love with mince pies (a tart size version). Kiwis sell them in coffee shops, in the grocery store in 6 and 12 packs, and at church bake sales. When I was in Ireland I fell back in love with mince pies at Starbucks of all places. Their shortbread crust and mince is the perfect combination.
Plus my art dad Jim said all he wanted for Christmas was a mincemeat pie. In the past I’ve tried mincemeat from a jar. Even the fancy stuff leaves me “meh”. I looked at the prepared mincemeat sold in the Powerscourt shop and also knew I didn’t have room in my suitcase. So I asked my friend UK Sarah if she had a recipe. She took a photo of it and sent it to me right away.
I looked through the ingredients and read the instructions. I can do this! Oh, except what is suet. UK Sarah said to look in the shops before I leave Ireland. So on my way back to the airport I stopped at the grocery in Bray and found suet. I slipped it into my suitcase in case TSA might confiscate. (At the time I wasn’t really sure what suet is; I learned that it is beef fat, which sounds much grosser than it tastes.)
Once I was home I bought the rest of the ingredients and proceeded to make the mincemeat. It is not difficult. It does take time with the resting 12 hours and baking 3 hours on low heat. I made the pie for Jim and it was a big hit.
For the tarts I used Nigella Lawson’s crust recipe. I don’t have a photo of the mince tarts but so far everyone has been enthusiastic (and they disappeared quickly). Several people commented that the tarts are just the right balance between the mince and crust.
My friend Carole gave me Christina Tosi’s new cake cookbook. And my neighbor friend Tiffanie presented me with gorgeous persimmons. I do believe I will be baking a lot this season.
I freely admit that my travel choices are influenced by Netflix shows, especially Chef’s Table. Season 4 the episodes focus on dessert. I somehow missed the hoopla about Christina Tosi’s Milk in New York City. This June she opened a flagship store with lab in Washington, DC.
Carole and I headed there on a hot and muggy day. We didn’t get the cereal milk softserve. Instead we bought a slice of chocolate malt cake, a slice of birthday cake, and some crack pie to share. Sugar shock in the best way!
This store at 1525 15th Street NW near Logan Circle doesn’t have a lot of indoor seating (as in, air conditioned), and there is limited outdoor seating. There are parking spaces though! And they are offering baking classes here.
We browsed her cookbooks and are seriously exploring taking the chocolate malt cake in the near future. Meanwhile I crumbled my remaining crack pie in my oatmeal this morning and it was very, very good.