Friday, October 7, 2011

Loving Cakelove, with One Reservation

photo by Anthony Palatta

Ever since I saw a picture of this cake in Warren Brown's cookbook Cakelove, I've been determined to try it out. The results were pretty successful until the very end, but more on that later.

The great thing about this cookbook is that it gives pretty detailed instructions on how to make the cakes in its pages, which are so lovingly photographed, they could be classified as food porn. The book also gives clear explanations of how to trim and frost a cake, or why certain recipes call for certain ingredients (for example, why cocoa powder makes for better chocolate cake than melted chocolate--the fat clings better to the powder).

I've tried two of the cakes now and two buttercream recipes. The chocolate buttercream is definitely the best I've ever tasted or made. The lemon buttercream was nice, though a bit too light for my taste.

As for the cakes, both a lemon-flavored cake and this one, I found they were good, though a bit spongier than my favorite kinds of cake. (In fact, Brown refers to cake as "sponge" in his book.)  Also, they're a bit finicky with the ingredients and measuring. For example, most of the cake recipes require you to invest in potato starch, Brown's secret cake recipe weapon. And though Brown does list volume measurements as an option (cups and tablespoons), he really prefers you to weight your ingredients on a kitchen scale.

Following Brown's instructions, I was able to produce a well-done, moist chocolate cake (though it definitely didn't seem as heavy as a "pound" cake would suggest). I then turned to the frostings section of his book to learn how to cover the cake with a layer of chocolate ganache and then a drizzling of white chocolate, which looked so seductive in the book.

Unfortunately, the picture of the finished product was paired with a recipe for a thin "chocolate ganache glaze" that dissolved into the cake rather than set up on top of it. Another issue: run-off from said glaze built up like a well of water in the hollow center of the bundt cake. The recipe I needed, for "chocolate ganache" was on the previous page. Only after looking again at the picture and its caption did I realize that it said "Chocolate Ganache," not "Chocolate Ganache Glaze."

Did no one who edited this book realize that if you're going to show a picture of a cake, you might want to put it opposite the recipe for the frosting in the picture? Pretty frustrating.

In the end, the cake turned out fine, and the people I served it to were pretty happy.  I just felt a bit cheated, because I wanted it to look more dramatic, like the photo above:



  1. LOVE the title CAKELOVE--
    and wow, that pic. is sinful in itself--
    cheers to the tastiest blog--

  2. It's a pretty good book. They just need to work on layout issues! But I've learned a lot from using it.