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August (5) / October (6): best carrot cake / lemon cake that I didn’t love

Birthday cake was the order of the month for both August and October, b/c my sweet husband and superior mother each gained another year.

Huz chose Dorie Greenspan’s carrot cake, while I chose a lemon cake for Mah! (like Jeb! only in a far different league).

The carrot cake was sublime; the pictures are not.


He was happy w/ his cake, his fancy back-scratcher, and a winter-gear infusion. Seriously though, this cake…you should make it.  Opt for cranberries if you have raisin-haters in your life.  And the unsweetened coconut avoids any over-sweetness.

Overall, think it’s safe to say that he had a pretty good year, despite all the shoveling.


For Mah!, I opted for the Lemon Cake from Saveur, as she’s not a chocolate cake kind of person.  Frankly, I wish Dorie had a lemon cake recipe floating around out there, b/c this one was ok, but not wonderful.  The curd, I think, needed either more sugar or whole eggs  to avoid the eggy taste that developed by the second day.  The other possibility is that I overcooked it slightly, but I don’t think that’s likely. 11 yolks is a lot of yolks!  Nobody else seemed to mind, so I give this recipe a solid B-.

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The highlight though, was that Huz had the foresight to buy hats and noisemakers! This photo also solidifies my suspicion that we really need to hang something on that wall. We’re still trying to master hanging on plaster/lath walls. They’re so…crumbly.

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They’re very grown-up.

So I’m half-way through my 12-treats challenge, but only 50% complete!  Poor showing — but I still have time!


May (4): devil’s food white-out cake

First, I can’t say enough good things about Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours. I might be her new biggest fan.  The recipes I’ve tried have ALL been well written, provided nice notes, and were SO DAMN DELICIOUS. Her devil’s food white-out cake was no exception.

The kid chose this as his family-birthday-party cake, w/ the requested addition of raspberries and chocolate curls on top. Such is the refined palate of this newly minted 8 year old.

Happily, the cake and frosting all used ingredients I had on hand (buttermilk and bittersweet chocolate where in my pantry, thanks to a few imagined but abandoned recipes), so no extra shopping trip required.

I’ll note upfront that I grossly underestimated the time to make this cake BECAUSE I DIDN’T READ THE DIRECTIONS.  Also b/c I decided to make chocolate shavings from a “method” I had developed in my mind (not so effective) and b/c I decided to dip half the raspberries in chocolate, and because I had some strawberries, so why not do those too…and wouldn’t they look better if they had some white chocolate on top?  And thus a harried Sunday morning-afternoon was made.  Harried Baking Lady is one of my go-to kitchen personalities.

The cake itself was simple enough,

devil's food white-out cake

the frosting was less simple. Candy thermometer needed? Boooo!  BUT the results were worth the effort — the best kind of marshmallow goodness.

devil's food white-out cake

My chocolate curls were an abject failure, so I re-purposed them into shavings.  No photo b/c I was rushing, but imagine a bunch of melted chocolate hardened onto the back of a cookie sheet, w/ some scrapes and digs on the surface; that will give you a good idea of what was going on. Then I had the bright idea to dip the fruit, which was easy since I already had  a double boiler going for the melted chocolate for the “curls”. Add a little melted white chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag (b/c no I wasn’t taking out my decorating tips at this point), and I was done and done w/ the fruit.  Pushing the cake crumbs into the side of the cake was much easier than I expected.  A cardboard cake round would have made it ever easier.

I realized too late that I didn’t have a good pic of the cake, but there are plenty of those online and one of the cover of the book. So check that one out and know that my version looked just *exactly* like that.

Here’s a partial pic of the cake and fruit, as accented by the kid shoveling berries into his face.  The dirty silverware and crumbled plastic wrap play well off the soft elegance of the cake crumbs, wouldn’t you say? :D
devil's food white-out cake

If you need a special cake and have allocated 1/2 to 1 complete day to making it, then this should be your cake.  It’s delicious and will make you look like a baking genius. If you have chocolate curl tips, I’m all ears.  Get the recipe here!