Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Saved by Cake

I really enjoy Marian Keyes' fiction and nonfiction.  I had high hopes for her recent book, Saved by Cake.  It was touted as being "an extremely honest account of Marian Keyes' recent battle with depression, and how baking has helped her."  

I thought that the book would be part memoir, part cookbook.  She pours her heart out in the first four pages and the rest is a cookbook of desserts that she made rather than commit suicide.  As she says, "To be perfectly blunt about it, my choice sometimes is: I can kill myself or I can make a dozen cupcakes.  Right so, I'll do the cupcakes and I can kill myself tomorrow." 

Since Saved by Cake is 98% cookbook, it wasn't quite what I was expecting.  The baking instructions are definitely written in her very conversational style, but I was hoping for more of her story.    

Some of the recipes are quite continental.  I'd never heard of many of them, such as Millionaire's Shortbread, Barmbrack, and Chocolate and Treacle Cookies.  I would like to try my hand at making the No-Bake (of course) Ginger and Lime Cheesecake and Mini Key Lime Pies.  Are you seeing a lime theme here? Perhaps this spring or summer I will attempt one of her lime creations.  

What makes me a good cookthat I can improvise, rarely measure, don't need recipesis what makes me an inconsistent baker.  My kitchen attitude of close enough/more or less/easy substitutions translates into some baking disasters.  I have been known to ruin a cake made from a box where all I have to do is add water, vegetable oil and eggs.  

For My Heart's Desire's birthday last month, I made him a slightly modified version of Paula Deen's Pink Lemonade Cake and had poured it into the pans when I realized I had forgotten to include the eggs.  I poured the batter back into the bowl and added the eggs and baked the cakes, which turned out fine.  Then when I followed Paula's frosting instructions exactly: beat together confectioners' sugar and butter until fluffy, I put both the ingredients into the mixer at the same time and ended up with some very buttery sugar.  A quick online search showed me that frosting occurs when a the sugar is added to whipped butter in small amounts.  So My Heart's Desire's birthday cake had only half of the frosting that the recipe called for since I ran out of powdered sugar.  I didn't miss it and neither did he.  But I did have a backup dessert on hand just in case the Pink Lemonade Cake had been a flop.

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