Monday, December 27, 2010

When Art Imitates Cake

A neighbor of the Cake Shop, Camille Cummings, shared this painting with me, and said that she was inspired to paint it by the Sugar Skulls and Day of the Dead festivities at the Cake Shop:

She's having a show at Ananda Hair Studio on Broadway, Downtown, starting on January 3. Thanks, Camille!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice! Here's How to Make a Buche De Noel.

This holiday season in the Cake Shop has been busy, bustling, warm, and cozy! I keep feeling this rush of joy when making new recipes that I haven't perfected before: the Gingerbread People that Lucy figured out, the Sweet Potato Spice Cake making the perfect base for Bread Pudding. But the one thing that has brought me the deepest sense of elation, dare I say, triumph, is our mastering of the Buche De Noel, or Yule Log Cake.
Here follows an illustrated recipe, taken from the beloved Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 1983).

Grease and line with parchment paper a quarter sheet pan. (roughly 15 x 10)

To make the cake:
Combine in a mixer and beat until light:

4 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Slowly add:

3/4 cup sugar

beat again until light.

Fold in by hand:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa

and then pour into the lined pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched with your fingertip or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

When its done, it should look like this:

(except smaller, because the Buche De Noel that we make in the shop is double this recipe)

Immediately flip the cake onto a tea towel, a-like-so:

Then peel the paper off like this:

And roll it up like this:

Then set it aside for a few hours to cool completely.

Make a batch of whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
beat with the whisk attachment of your mixer until it can hold a soft peak.

Carefully and gently unroll your cake, and spread the whipped cream all on the inside.

Re-roll the cake, securing the bottom edge, and refrigerate.

Make the icing:

Melt 3 1-oz squares of unsweetened baking chocolate.

Whisk together with 1/3 cup of coffee and 1/4 cup of butter until smooth.

Set the mixture aside to cool. When completely cool, beat (in the mixer) 2-3 cups of powdered sugar until spreadable consistency.

Spread the icing on the roll:

And then cut the edges off with a serrated knife, and attach to the sides by globbing the icing around the joint.

Decorate with fresh holly, from your neighbor Peter's yard, for example, and, voila: (or viola, as we sait it back in Georgia):

A Buche De Noel.

The Yule Log is a symbol of the warmth and light of the hearth in the dark of winter. On this Solstice, as we honor the darkness and welcome the light in our lives, I wish to extend to you love, warmth, and ample fuel for your fire.
PS. If you wish to eat a fresh Buche De Noel, and do not desire to make one on your own, a 20-serving Yule Log is available for $50 by advance order at Short Street Cakes by calling 505-4822. Tomorrow (Wednesday, December 22) is the last day to order a Buche De Noel for pickup on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas at the Cake Shop!

Today was a snow day. I woke up late to the soft, quiet white of snow everywhere. I came into work to fill the orders for today, Hannah and I were in the Cake Shop, and, though Winter Hours dictate that we are open by appointment only on Sunday, I thought it would be fun to go ahead and open the shop, make some cider, and sell some cake and cookies. I sent out an email to the Hall Fletcher Neighborhood email list, telling the folks that we were having a Snow Day Party. We had an awesome response. Families, friends and neighbors came in, one by one, shaking the snow off of their boots, catching up, making things, and drinking cider. It made me really happy. Simultaneously, I've been having a hard time figuring out what to do and say about Christmas at the Cake Shop. As usual, the holidays have crept up with a quickness; I feel a little rushed, I haven't put up decorations, I wasn't sure what specials to run or how to talk about it. But after today, I realized: what we need is a twelve day party at the Cake Shop. We need friends, neighbors, and loved ones to come by, eat cake, and take cake to their friends. I realized that every day until Christmas should be a Snow Day Party at the Cake Shop!
Traditionally, the Twelve Days of Christmas refers to the days between Christmas and Epiphany. Instead, at the Cake Shop, the Twelve Days of Christmas refer to Monday, December 13th through Christmas Eve, when we will be hosting a Christmas Party every day!

Here's what you have to look forward to:

Decorate-Your-Own Gingerbread People!
We are making fresh Gingerbread Cookies every day ($1 per for mini people; $2 per for GingerGentlemen and GingerLadies) and will have a decoration station where you and your family can sit, sip cider, and decorate your people with naturally-colored icings.

And, speaking of cider, we will have fresh, hot, mulled apple cider a la Sally Rhoden on the stove every day (BYO Amaretto). ($1.75 per 12 oz cup).

Christmas Cookies!
Every day, we will be making an assortment of fresh Christmas cookies. Varieties include: Waffle Cookies, Gingerbread, Shortbread, Oatmeal Raisin, and these totally insane little Caramel Pecan Chocolate balls we started making the other day. And probably lots of other stuff we're just going to make up as we go along. Its a party. (please place an advance order for a dozen or more)

No-Advance-Order Cakes!
We had such an overwhelming response to our Cakesgiving Cake Sale. I get it now, people, you want your cake, and you don't want to place an order two days ahead of time. Duly noted. During the Twelve Days of Christmas, we are going to stock the case with as many Medium Sized Italian Cream Cakes, Mexican Chocolate Cakes, and Sweet Potato Spice cakes as we can make. They are yours for the purchasing, while supplies last, for $28, $25, and $28 each, respectively.

Fresh Lemon Curd!
Jars of our Fresh Lemon Curd (made famous as the filling on our lovely Daffodil Cake) will be for sale for $5 each. Lemon Curd makes a gracious and sustainable stocking stuffer or hostess gift. Just sayin.

Bread Pudding!
We are making and selling, by the slice ($3) or by the pan ($25), our ridiculously good Sweet Potato Spice Bread Pudding. Makes a great gift, or a great dessert. (Please place an order for 6 or more slices.) Bourbon Sauce Sold Separately. xo

Special-Order-Only Christmas Menu Items:

Peppermint Candy Cane Chocolate Cake
Our Classic Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, with a Peppermint 7-minute Icing and Crushed Candy Cane topping. Available in all sizes and priced as a deluxe cake on the menu.

Black Forest Cake
Chocolate Cake, Whipped Cream, and Cherries, people. Available in all sizes and priced as a deluxe cake on the menu.

Buche De Noel
The Classic French Yule Log. Nothing says "Solstice" like a cake replica of a piece of wood.

Please know that when you come in the Cake Shop, or you place your special order, you are not only going to have the yummiest treat ever, you are allowing me and the seven other awesome people who work at the Cake Shop to continue doing something that we have, at times, thought was not possible: to go to a job every day where we love each other, love our work, love our customers, and we get the opportunity every day to shine; creatively, personally, and as a community. I'm not exaggerating. We're having that much fun.
Thank you for your love and support.

Other pertinent information:
We will be closed from Christmas Day (Saturday, December 25) through Thursday, December 29th, for Christmas Break.
We will be OPEN Thursday, December 30, and Friday, December 31st, for New Years Eve orders and retail cupcakes.
We will be Closed on New Years Day.
After that, we commence our regular Winter Schedule: Open noon to six Wednesday through Saturday, we are open by appointment/special order only on Sundays and Mondays, and we are closed on Tuesdays.
Seriously, I love y'all.