Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some good cakes you should bake

1. A pear cake with muscovado sugar and maple syrup from Nigel Slater's Tender. (The recipe can also be found here.) You saute chunks of pear with cinnamon then add maple syrup and cook until bubbly. Spoon this over a dense, somewhat scant batter. The cake will look like the photograph above just before it goes into the oven; when it comes out it will be flattish and golden-brown, a thick, almondy cake with sticky lodes of pear. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

2. An apple cake with marmalade. Also from Nigel Slater's Tender. Recipe here. This was like one of those big nubbly "health food" muffins that paradoxically contains several tons of sugar. My favorite kind. RECOMMEND, though not quite as highly as the pear cake.


3. Plum almond cake from the Bi-Rite Market's beautiful, brand new book, Eat Good Food. I made
this a few weeks ago so I don't remember very much except that the cake was rich and almondy, the fruit juicy and tart, and the whole production a delicious dessert. RECOMMEND, although not as highly as . . . 
4. Chocolate sour cream bundt cake, also from Eat Good Food. CAN NOT RECOMMEND MORE HIGHLY. And I don't even like chocolate.

This is the recipe almost exactly as printed in Eat Good Food. The one thing I will do differently next time is to try milk chocolate in the glaze.


1 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup water, or black coffee
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Butter and flour a bundt pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a small pan, melt the butter with the cocoa, salt, and water/coffee over medium heat. Cook until melted and combined. Cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Gradually whisk in the melted butter mixture and beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the cake tests done, about 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack. Cool completely, then place the rack on top of a sheet of newspaper that will catch drips. Glaze.

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1. Put the chocolate and corn syrup in a bowl. Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is melted and the mixture is hot.

2. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. If it is too runny (it was) let it sit for a few minutes to thicken. Pour over the cake and let it run down the sides.

Outstanding, this cake. In fact, everything I've made from Eat Good Food has been excellent. The book also includes a recipe for a pear skillet cake that I want to try next week, when the CSA drops off another 6 overripe pears.

And I wonder why I'm not skinnier.


  1. I just discovered your blog through the S.F. Chronicle when I was visiting MV last month. It is so bittersweet as you bought our house! I love the remodel and the fact that you use the yard so well with chickens and goats. Unfortunately my sweet husband passed away in August. I have been blogging about our life and food for a couple of years. Your blogs are fun to read. Keep it up Jennifer.

  2. News flash from the East Coast:

    We have very few independent bookstores out here in Boston. One of the best is Brookline Booksmith. Observed in the cookbook section this week:
    a large pile of Make the Bread Buy the Butter with a sign on top "Buyer's Choice Cookbook of the Month".

  3. When am I going to have time to make these cakes? I am too busy making bagels/cream cheese and pancetta....just got the book yesterday and almost halfway through reading it. It is a gem.

  4. Chocolate cake is excellent. Thank you for sharing.
    I finished the book. It was as good as your blog, which can not have been easy. Breezy, funny, approachable and clear.

    My family will be home for Thanksgiving and we will make mozzarella and bagels. Maybe not cream cheese but a girl can dream.
    Thank you for wonderful reading and cooking experiences.

  5. Thank-you to Ginny Lee and NancyJ! That is so good to hear.

  6. Did you use coffee or water in the chocolate cake? Did you use white corn syrup? Thanks.

    Love your blog.

  7. Anon- the book calls for water, I used coffee because I had it right there. I doubt there's a big difference. The book calls for either agave nectar or corn syrup. I used light corn syrup. I didn't mention agave bc I think most people don't have it.

  8. Thanks Tipsy for replying. I will use coffee, too, since I am a coffee adict!

  9. Discovered your book through Shelf Awareness last week. I don't know how I missed you all this time! I really enjoy your blog, and I got your book yesterday. It is absolutely delightful while being informative and entertaining. Great job!

  10. Wrote my comment early in the morning and realized in my head addict is spelled with 2 d's. Still love coffee. And your blog is very entertaining! I hope you continue it with gusto after your book promotion. I can only imagine the energy it must be taking to go to signings, talks, etc.

  11. Just wanted to say I love your site & your blog. I've been rhapsodizing about it all over the internet lately, including my own blog:
    Jennifer Reese fans: check it out for a preview of the book, including a free recipe!

  12. I'm baking a cake today and can't decide between the pear/maple cake or these decisions. Thank you for sharing this list.

    Congratulations again on your book! My copy has lots of "make this" post-its decorating it now.

  13. Ok so I mixed up the dough for the recipe for Everyday Bread just as you said. Did everything and it did not rise at all I put it in the pans at 9:30 and it is 1:50. I double checked everything I did and nothing, the one thing that I don't understand is wouldn't you have to warm up the water for the yeast oh yah I used water instead of whey which you said was fine.