Currently baking out of Sky High, Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
I don’t like making fancy cakes with multiple components. Give me a cake with a frosting and, maybe, a filling, and that’s all I want to bother with. And swirly, complicated decorations? Forget it. Usually those cakes look so much better than they taste. I’ll take a homely looking cake that tastes fantastic over those fondant, buttercreamed creations any day. This probably means that I’ll never make my name in wedding cakes, but I think I can live with that. Especially when I can make the sort of cakes featured in this book.
The authors, Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne, have put together a book full of beautiful, triple-layer cakes that don’t take a degree in architecture/art design to make. These are the kind of cakes that you’d find on the counter of a local coffeehouse or deli just as easily as at your grandmother’s house. In fact, Huntsman is the pastry chef at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., a little out-of-the-way joint that serves up some very fine southern country food.
(Once upon a time, I lived in Nashville and spent many a Sunday afternoon eating at the Loveless. At that time, the Loveless didn’t offer many desserts, other than their homemade jam and biscuits, but I can see how easily these cakes came out of that place.)
So, on to the cakes, in particular, this chocolate peanut butter cake. This was Bryan’s birthday cake. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he hemmed and hawed until I mentioned this one. As soon as I said chocolate and peanut butter in the same sentence, he was a goner. As was I after the first bite.
The cake is a sour cream chocolate cake that can be made in one bowl without a mixer. I’ve made lots of chocolate cakes, but this one may just be my favorite. It is moist and chocolatey. It is firm enough to handle layering, but not at all dry. The chocolate cake is sandwiched with a peanut butter-cream cheese filling. That filling also does double duty as the frosting. To top it all off, a simple glaze of bittersweet chocolate, half-and-half and peanut butter is poured over the top of the frosted cake.
Oh. My. God. This is perhaps the best thing I’ve put in my mouth for a very long time. The rich chocolate cake is perfectly set off by the tangy filling, and the glaze is just gilding the lily. I wished I had taken pictures of the interior of the cake, because it was quite lovely.
I think Bryan was very happy with his birthday cake. I know his coworkers were.
Note: You might have noticed that in my last post, I started baking out of a cookie cookbook. And now I’ve introduced a cake cookbook. Am I confused? Yes, but not about which book(s) I’m current baking out of. See, I don’t really want to make two or three cakes a week. Besides the damage that would do to my waistline, making these kinds of cakes can be tiring, not to mention expensive. So, I plan on making one cake a week and alternating those posts with cookie posts. This plan won’t help my waistline much, but it will be easier on me.