Baking and cooking have felt a little utilitarian for me lately, most meals consist of quickly sauteing lots a dark greens and root vegetables, served over various grains. Add to that random handfuls of dried nuts and fruit... and the occasional pita bread stuffed with something sprouty and beany. I don't really mind the simplicity... but for the bake-off? Baking and I once had a little love thing going, I remember a few years ago on a random weekday afternoon making individual sized Baked Alaska. Retro and decadent, the recipe was from Bon Appetit. It simply had you make one amazing pound cake, cut thick slices and then circles from those slices (I used a really large biscuit cutter). Place the slices on a cookie sheet, top with a perfectly round scoop of the very best strawberry ice cream you can find, make the meringue and plop it all around the mountain of ice cream and cake, then freeze. After everything is nicely frozen (about an hour) pop it in the oven, I can't remember if it was baked or broiled, but it was very brief. I made a bunch, too many for us to eat so I dashed a few over to my neighbors house for their immediate pleasure, there is no time to spare when dealing with Baked Alaska. There was also the time I somehow managed to produce the best tiramisu I've ever tasted. I was amazed by it's marscapone cheese, espresso, those lovely little Italian cookies (I can't remember the name!) in place of spongy tasteless lady fingers. All of the correct ingredients. How sad that I couldn't find the recipe anywhere for the bake-off. I'd happily serve that tiramisu at my "if you could have dinner with three people from history who would it be" fantasy dinner party.
I turned to Molly for help, wise choice, yes? I fully expected to pop over to her recipe index and just scroll down and commit to the most mouth watering title that appeared. Then I noticed a link to a Food Network video, (you may need to click on Lemon Cake on the video menu)... this cake it turns out is responsible for spinning a beautiful love story for her and Brandon, her husband (I remember seeing the pictures from their wedding over the summer and thinking how cool it was that they found a red velvet couch on the beach that day...). This was to be my bake-off entry for sure. I imagine Molly might be surprised to know this was the choice for a bake-off, she herself said it was a simple cake. It's true, this cake is not a show stopper or award winner but a humble cake, reliable. Watch out however, for it's surprising burst of freshness as you bite into the lemony-syrup soaked single layer.
It's been said that falling in love feels like taking off on a great, spirited adventure and coming home at the same time. This cake is definitely love. I will make it again and again, and think of it's story every time.
In case anyone was wondering... my dinner guests... Lao Tzu, Jesus, Abraham Lincoln. I can't believe I'm admitting to having a fantasy dinner party list. Hopefully I'm not the only one?
it's fair to say the vegan attempt didn't work out too well on valetines day... at a dessert only party!