Tag Archives: cake

almost edible.

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Almost Edible, 106-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica

Even the original owners didn’t want to eat it.

Fruit cake found at Cape Adare thought to be from Scott’s Northern Party (1911)

IT’S NOT THAT UNCOMMON RE-FINDING forgotten holiday fruitcake months after the event. More surprising, though, is when it’s over a century old. Conservators from the New Zealand-run Antarctic Heritage Trust found themselves faced with this kind of a figgy phenomenon while recently excavating an abandoned hut some 2,500 miles from the South Pole. Cape Adare, at Antarctica’s northeastern tip, was an important landing site and base camp used by early Antarctic explorers.

Made by the British brand Huntley & Palmers, which still exists today, the cake was wrapped in its original paper and stored in a tin-plated iron alloy box. While the tin had begun to deteriorate, the cake was in near-perfect condition and, according to the researchers, still looked “almost edible”.

In a statement, Lizzie Meek, the Trust’s Programme Manager-Artefacts, described the cake as “an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and still a favorite item on modern trips to the Ice.” Despite that, researchers manage to hold off snacking on their discovery, which apparently smelled like “rancid butter”. In fact, the hut contained the best part of a picnic: sardines, “badly deteriorated” meat and fish and some more appealing “nice looking” jams.

In 1910, the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott made an ill-fated expedition to reach the South Pole and, on the way, explore the continent’s uncharted wastelands. The Heritage Trust believes the cake dates from his endeavor, known as the Terra Nova Expedition after the supply ship.

Conservators from the Trust have been working on restoring and documenting almost 1500 artifacts from the Cape for the past year. Once they’ve finished their conservation efforts, everything will be returned to the Ice for future explorers to find and enjoy—though they may want to avoid sampling the fruitcake.

“this is true; virtually all edible substances, and many automotive products,

are now marketed as being low-fat or fat- free. americans are obsessed with fat content. 

-dave barry

 

 

credits: antarctic heritage trust, natasha frost, gastro obscura

happy accidental birthday, bumpy cake.

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A Beloved Treat, Born from a Happy Accident

German confectioner Fred Sanders Schmidt first opened up his confectionary in Chicago, but that venture was short-lived, as it was a casualty of the Great Fire in 1871. Sanders and his wife, Rosa landed in Detroit, where he reopened for business in 1875. Sanders Confectionery has been a Detroit institution ever since.

For its first few decades in business, the store was simply a good old-fashioned chocolate and candy shop, with most of the products handcrafted by Fred and Rosa. In 1912, Fred decided to begin selling baked goods to honor the passing of his father, who had been a prominent baker and business owner in Illinois. One of those items was a rich chocolate cake, first frosted with vanilla buttercream and finished with a glossy chocolate fudge ganache, a nod to Fred’s candy-making skills. During one recipe test, Fred began to run out of vanilla buttercream, and instead of frosting the cake in a thick layer as planned, he playfully piped the white frosting in several rails across the top of the cake, which created a bumpy surface under the fudge icing and made for an attractive cross-section. After recognizing that most Sanders customers always asked for “the cake with the bumps,” the name was changed from “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake” to “Chocolate Bumpy Cake” and a dessert icon was born on April 27, 1913. 

side note: this is one of my favorite cakes and also the nickname given to me by the waiters i worked with years ago, who suggested that i should use the name ‘bumpy teacakes’ should i ever become a dancer, and the entire restaurant crew knew me by this name forever after.

“nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” 

-ralph waldo emerson

 

 

 

credits: sandersbakery.com

Like many happy culinary accidents, the newly fashioned cake with its unique look took off with customers. Initially called “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake,” so many people simply asked for “the cake with the bumps” that Sanders changed the name to “Chocolate Bumpy Cake.”

Like many happy culinary accidents, the newly fashioned cake with its unique look took off with customers. Initially called “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake,” so many people simply asked for “the cake with the bumps” that Sanders changed the name to “Chocolate Bumpy Cake.”

daily specials.

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(not my breakfast, but how i imagine it to look if i had ordered the daily specials)

how fun to discover

that one of my favorite breakfast places

has changed up their menu a bit

(maybe now that the students are back on campus?)

adding 11 ‘breakfast beers’

and a daily special of 

cake and ice cream

“celebrate everyday like your birthday!”

what’s not to celebrate?

“i discovered a meal between breakfast and brunch.”

  • -homer

 

 

 

avalon bakery and cafe, ann arbor, mi, usa

late summer 2020

 

let (a few of) them eat cake!

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when reading the day’s news online

there were the expected headlines/updates/graphs:

scotus decision

virus numbers updates

calls for mayor’s resignation

protest marches continue

doctors’ opinions

iran’s decision

cruise ship passengers awaiting refunds

election polls

presidential tweets

to wear a mask or not?

europe’s reopening

and then in huge letters:

COSTCO STOPS SELLING HALF-SHEET CAKES

what?

why is this a story?

why is this a bigger-font-size-worthy story?

what is the story?

here’s the story and it’s an odd logic.:

The past few months have been chaotic for Costco customers, with product shortages, long lines and the temporary elimination of free food samples. Now, it appears there’s another change for devoted shoppers: Costco has eliminated the iconic half-sheet cakes that are the centerpiece of graduation and birthday parties.

Costco has quietly stopped selling the $20 half-sheet cakes across its US stores for the past month, instead pointing people toward its 10-inch round cakes and other assorted baked goods.

“To help limit personal contact and create more space for social distancing, Costco has reduced service in some departments,” the company explained to outraged customers on its Facebook account. 

Costco confirmed to CNN Business it’s not selling the half-sheet cakes anymore and it has “no immediate plans” to bring it back. A spokesperson added that its 10-inch round cakes “seem to be resonating with our members.”

The decision also coincides with a recommendation from several US states and health agencies to avoid or prohibit large gatherings in light of Covid-19. Half-sheet cakes feeds around 50 people, while its 10-inch round cake serves around a dozen.

my interpretation: apparently the thought is that if you don’t have a big cake, you will not have a big celebration, where people will gather around the big cake in a big group. if you have more pieces of cake, you will then invite more people to go with it. what if you just bought a few round cakes, couldn’t you invite the same amount of people and just cut from the round cakes, or would that discourage you from inviting more guests as you’d have to then open more than one box? what about people just deciding to socially distance themselves without the cake being the deciding factor? just wondering, or is this that devil math at play once again? does it come down to having to match ratios, person to piece, and not have any leftover cake to eat for breakfast? i  knew i should have listened in school. 

“cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness!

If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”

-c. joyBell c.

 

 

 

credits: cnn business

baked with a dash of whimsy.

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(and I just love anything to do with Bigfoot)

sweet thing.

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Theories abound as to the origins of Russian cake. The popular legend goes that it was created by a New Orleans baker who ran out of ingredients to bake a proper cake for the Russian Grand Duke Alexis when the latter visited New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 1872. But the late food historian Michael Mizell-Nelson put this theory to rest, writing that there was no documentation to confirm this story. Mizell-Nelson offered instead that Russian cake may have been an offshoot of the raspberry trifle, or even the Austrian/German punschtorte. The latter features a “punch” of cake and biscuit scraps mixed with rum, cocoa, and jam that gets sandwiched between layers of sponge cake. Another inspiration for the Louisiana Russian Cake may have been the Charlotte à la Russe, a popular dessert in the 18th and 19th centuries, in which a cake mold was lined with stale bread or cake then filled with cream or trifle and set with a layer of gelatin. 

Today’s Russian cake is rich and moist, and bakers advise moderation in its enjoyment. It is soaked in rum, padded with jam, and covered in a dense layer of icing topped with sprinkles, making for quite the sugar bomb. Sometimes anise extract is used to enhance flavor. While this is decadent, it pales in comparison to some versions: A recipe for a giant Russian cake, found in the archives of The Times-Picayune from the 1980s, and submitted by a reader from Lafayette, called for 15 pounds of cake leftovers and serious carpentry skills. A mold made of a customized bottomless wooden frame that was 14 inches long, 10 inches wide, and seven inches deep would first need to be made. The cake scraps, along with two glassfuls of jelly, four and a half cups of sugar, a bit of rum, and two boxes of white cake mix, yielded a 21-pound Russian cake. Sometimes (only sometimes), there really can be too much of a sweet thing.

“a party without cake is just a meeting.” ~Julia Child

 Happy Mardi Gras!

it’s clever, but is it art? – rudyard kipling

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cake

my desire to bake began when i was just a little girl.

i was beside myself with joy when santa brought me an easy bake oven on my 6th christmas.

i imagined myself cranking out pies and cookies and cakes and cupcakes.

and making my first fortune.

i’d set up my bakery along with my lemonade stand.

and people would flock to my store.

and i would spend my days baking and going to first grade.

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finally came the moment

when i whipped up my first cake.

put it in the oven.

realized it was cooked by a light bulb.

and would take a while.

and everything was miniature.

and each cake would serve a small mouse or two.

and i had no way to buy more mixes to bake with.

and it was a dream i’d have to wait on.

years passed.

and i grew up and continued baking.

using a trial and error method.

and i especially loved to make cupcakes for people.

for any and all occasions.

the brits call them fairy cakes.

and that is the perfect name for them.

you love mexican chili chocolate?

coconut lemon cream?

caramel and pecan?

no problem, i can do that.

i wanted them to be pieces of art.

with flavors, and colors, and designs, and surprises.

all wrapped in pretty little papers.

but they didn’t always look that way.

so.

i decided to take a six week cake decorating class.

i signed up and bought all of my supplies.

 tips, turntables, icing knives, pastry bags, pans, colors and flower pins.

and went to my first class.

taught by a seasoned cake decorator.

my classmates –

were a mother and angsty daughter who had never decorated before.

and three teenage employees of the local ice cream store.

i figured i could hold my own with this group.

homework assignments

were to bake cakes and cupcakes and bring them in to decorate.

my kind of  homework!

wilton-cake-decorating

and i imagined myself doing this.

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and this.

but –

once we started mixing the frostings, the icings, the colors

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my area actually looked more like this.

i had color all over the place, under my nails, in my cuticles, it dyed my hands and arms and my frosting got too warm and didn’t mix to the right consistency and i had a hard time filling the pastry bag without it getting all over and had to bite the tip off of it as i lost my scissors somewhere in the fray and i had to change tips to make flowers and edgings and all kinds of things and my book was covered in color and was wet and i clogged the class sink when i had to scrape off my buttercream frosting and start over a few times or so.

and somehow, the mother daughter team excelled.

and were naturals, working in sync like a precision ice dancing team.

and the baby teens perfectly piped their cakes, with nary a misstep.

and i wondered how they did it.

and i noticed the ice dancers preloaded their pastry bags at home.

using the colors they wanted, with the tips they needed, and closed off the ends.

and the teens just chose simple designs and one color and one consistency.

aha! that’s it!

but, as the weeks went on,

i never really got better at the process.

luckily our teacher was very kind and diplomatic.

and she liked my ‘shabby chic by accident’ and ‘evil clown’ style cupcakes.

and we all bonded in our mutual creative endeavor.

and shared stories and laughed a lot.

and i accepted that each week i would leave with a different color of skin.

and when we all made our final cakes for graduation day.

 the mom and daughter and teens all had beautiful cakes.

and when my teacher saw my final cake

(at the top of this post)

she said she had never seen a sheep and dachshund and polka dot cake before.

and it looked like a wonderful piece of art.

and she wanted a picture of it to keep in her book.

to show future classes.

and i was a happy baker.

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 Stories aren’t the icing on the cake; they are the cake!

Peter Guber