Sweet and spicy

Posted by Anita on 10.28.07 7:50 PM

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reservedWhen my mom was growing up, homemade dessert was a regular occurrence around the dinner table. By the time I was a kid, the family tradition had lapsed; cakes and pies showed up mostly around the holidays or on someone’s birthday. Not that I felt deprived: To this day, my idea of dessert is scraping the bowl for the last spoonful of mashed potatoes, or sneaking an extra meatball from the lunch-bound leftovers.

Despite my defective sweet tooth, I love to bake for friends and family. At my office in Seattle, I belonged to a crew of hard-core amateur pâtissières dubbed the Spare Change Bakery. We all kept jars on our desks for our coworkers’ contributions, and as soon as we scraped together enough nickels and dimes, one of us would whip up a double- or triple-batch of something sweet and scrumptious for the next staff meeting. By the time we disbanded, we were collecting enough cash to bake every week — a gratifying but rather exhausting sign of our popularity.

But since we moved back to San Francisco, I haven’t had many excuses to bake. Sure, our dinner parties often need a sweet ending, but I miss those crowd-pleasing desserts: Brownies, bars, and other decidedly lowbrow sweets. So when I saw the photo of the Spice Cake with Coffee Toffee Crunch on the cover of the new issue of Sunset, I knew my path was clear. The theme for this month’s “Waiter, There’s Something in My…” event is layer cakes, after all, and there’s just something about a sky-high cake with cream-cheese frosting that sends me running for my sifter and whisk.

Waiter, there's something in my...Working my way through the recipe, I found it refreshingly well documented. The writer details a number of steps — creating a crumb coat, and using strips of parchment to keep the serving plate clean — that help give the final cake a centerpiece-worthy appearance. With the exception of the recipe’s lack of measurements by weight (the serious baker’s preferred method for dry ingredients like flour and sugar, especially), it was one of the best-written magazine recipes I’ve used in months.

Aside from substituting Alfieri Farms’ almond brittle for homemade coffee toffee, I followed the recipe to the letter, so click over to Sunset’s site if you want the full rundown. Although I doubt the magazine’s suggestion that this cake will replace pumpkin or pecan pie on your holiday dessert buffet, it’s got a spicy, deep flavor that would make a perfect finish for an autumn feast. While the icing’s got enough sugar to satisfy even the most intense sugar junkie, the cake itself — sweetened with molasses — keeps things moist and spicy without too much sweetness… just the ticket for a baker without a sweet tooth.

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved

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Comment by cookiecrumb

Anita, your picture is better than the one on the cover of Sunset. Must be those groovy comb lines! ;)
The cake was beautiful, a mouthful of autumn, a beginning of holiday season. Oh, yeah, and cream cheese, yum-o.

Posted on 10.29.07 at 9:53AM

Comment by Chubbypanda

Sweet & spicy, what a great description of you! =)

Posted on 10.29.07 at 11:55AM

Comment by Jan

I agree w/ cookiecrumb…your cake looks better than the Sunset cake!

Posted on 10.29.07 at 12:01PM

Comment by JEP

This cake & recipe ingredients sound incredibly delicious!

Posted on 10.29.07 at 5:27PM

Comment by Ann

Ooh… this looks like something I need to make, and SOON!

Posted on 10.30.07 at 12:03PM

Comment by Rose

That looks delicious – you can bake for me any time! :)-

Posted on 10.30.07 at 8:04PM

Comment by Sean

‘Twas a perfect taste of autumn, spicy and warming. I craved a cup of warmed apple cider, but the wine worked just fine. :-)

Posted on 11.01.07 at 5:05PM

Comment by Andrew

What can one say apart form WOW!

Thanks for taking part in waiter with such a scrumptious entry.

Posted on 11.03.07 at 11:34AM

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Waiter There’s Something In My… Layered cake…

For all you chefs, chefettes, cooks, recipe followers and aga-strokers the round-up for the Layered Cake edition of Waiter There’s Something In My… a theme selected by me. An excellent selection of some of the most delicious cakes available across…..

Posted on 11.04.07 at 9:31AM

Comment by Tartelette

Hoo!!! How did I miss this cake! It looks amazing and tall and mighty wonderful!! Great job. The photo is indeed stunning in its classic simplicity.

Posted on 11.30.07 at 8:21PM

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