Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dear Margaret,

Last night I had a cake craving and thought I'd satisfy it simply and easily with Bishops Cake from the white Silver Palate, an old standby that never disappoints. However the book "fell" open to Chestnut Cake and in a moment of abandon I decided to try it out.

As you know, the recipe calls for a cup of wine which you cautioned me against. Since you never texted back with an acceptable alternative I threw in with Rosso and Lukens and went for it with some A to Z Pinot Grigio. This all went well. The batter had an unusual flavor, sort of Italian tasting, like you might want a biscotto to taste.

It baked up nicely and then things got dicey. First, the cake pans have sloping sides. Why would someone make cake pans with sloping sides? Why did I buy them? They gave the unfrosted cake the shape of Marilyn Monroe.

The recipe calls for chestnut puree on the top. Imagine my delight when I discovered a can of it in the cupboard. Imagine my disappointment when I opened it to discover that 8 years in the back of the cupboard had given it the flavor and texture of play-dough.

Oh well, more chocolate frosting can't be a bad thing. Unless you are making it with organic confectioners sugar that has lumps in it that are impervious to the sifter. They bounced around in the bottom of the sifter and the harder I cranked, the more of them flew out of the sifter and across the room. Pemba thought this was a big improvement on the usual game of fetch but it wasn't getting me any closer to frosting. The night was getting longer and my temper was getting shorter.

I ended up putting the sugar in my mini food mill and whirring the shit out of it.

I had to make 2 batches of frosting. Two rounds of whirring. But the frosting was great. It's on page 289 of the book, and I happen to know it makes excellent fudge.

The end result was an excellent cake. It would be interesting to try the batter as upside down cake with toasted almonds and brown sugar in the upside down part. Maybe I'll start earlier tonight.

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