Blue Sugar Plum Cake
Category: Desserts & Sweets | Blog URL: http://girlichef.blogspot.com/2009/09/cakeinspired-by-bookreceived-for.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
As a recent participant in the Edible Word, a foodie book club (hosted by Cath of A Blithe Palate and Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness), I was able to obtain an advance copy of Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado. Plus, Edible Word is pairing with Cook the Books this month....ah, a melding of the minds, a pairing of the passions...wink wink.
Bullock-Prado once lived life in the Hollywood sun...shmoozing...daily interaction with the "beautiful" people...head of a production company (along with her sister...famous sister...recognize the last name?)...constantly having to appear perfect and put up with a**holes. But in the midst of it all, she made shopping shopping lists...baked goodies for friends and loved ones...and dreamed of a more fulfilling lifestyle. So, she finally did something about it. It's not something we can all do...but it's definitely the subject of many a fantasy. She left Tinsel Town and moved to a quirky little town in Vermont where she opened a bakery. In a timely interview with her sister by InStyle magazine where Gesine's macaroons were mentioned, her shop gained instant success (ie...overwhelming amount of orders that you are unprepared to handle.)
My favorite moments in her book were the memories and recipes inspired by thoughts of her mother and grandmother. Did I mention the book includes recipes! In one chapter, she reminisced about Zwetschgendatschi, a German tart she had eaten with her mother every summer. It was her mother's comfort food...and one that Gesine could not bake or even bare to think of after she lost her mother. Until one day. A day when "an older gentleman came into the shop and asked whether (she) could make a dessert he'd had in Germany during the Second World War. He described a sweet, almost shortbready crust lined with elegant, oval plums that he'd never seen outside of Europe. His wife had recently passed away, he was newly retired, and he was now prone to reminiscing. He wanted to treat himself to a past pleasure and bathe himself in memories through that little plum tart." Try as she might to disconnect herself from this tart...to simply make it a process. Do it in a machine, instead of lovingly by hand. Bing...bam...boom. Into the oven. Bake. Done. NOPE! As the smell hit her, so did a wave of emotion. So she made another one...putting the all of the emotion (and probably a few tears and runny nose drips) that she had into baking that tart. Isn't amazing how smell, taste, sound...food!...can invoke such deep emotion. That is one of the reasons I love it.
Another memory was of spending time with her grandmother in Germany. Like many places (aside from here...in the U.S.), people in Germany take a late afternoon break. Sit and enjoy tea, coffee, a bite to eat. I don't want to go on...because I could keep writing, but I should probably let you read the book, but the Apfelkuchen that Gesine's grandma whips up so efficiently reminded me of my own German grandma and I wanted to combine these two parts of the book to make a something that I'd love to sit down and take some time and share with my mom and my grandma.
Cut a slice and enjoy in the middle of the afternoon with your loved ones.
I served it with some fresh whipped cream (heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar) and enjoyed it with the kiddos and hubby with milk and coffee. I firmly believe that our my country should adopt the afternoon tea (or some version) that many other countries have been practicing since the beginning of time!
And although I was not able to share this with my mom and grandma this time, I know that I will make it again for the next time we are able to get together...and my sisters, too. Or maybe I'll make grandma's apple cake...which I imagine is pretty close to Gesine's (grandma's)Apfelkuchen. If you want to take a sneak peak into the life of a closet master baker before the book is released on September 8, head on over to Gesine's blog, Confections of a (closet) Master Baker! Closet. That's a funny word. The more I look at it, the more it looks like it's spelled wrong. Huh. By the way, pronounce her name Geh-see-neh (complete with the throaty, German aehhhkkk sound on the last syllable) if you want to avoid daggers & a lashing!