Friday, April 1, 2011

italian cream

"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet."
- Julia Child

One of my most comforting places to be is barefoot in a kitchen, measuring flour, blending butter and sugar, whipping heavy cream to perfection, smelling the sweet smell of vanilla extract. When I'm in the kitchen, I move easily and purposefully: opening and shutting the refrigerator or cabinet, rinsing off my beaters for a fresh project, cutting out wax paper circles to line my pans. While I'm baking, I don't think about any heavy burdens or cares; my biggest concern becomes putting a freshly frosted cake on the table before the guests arrive. On particularly inspired days I may end up grinning and squealing with delight if, as was the case with the Title Cake, my cream cheese frosting tastes especially tangy and fresh (or I happen to create something that actually resembles an edible light saber).

I crave those times. I will use any excuse for baking time. This Tuesday, it was a small group gathering at my house. What better occasion than a casual meeting to make a three layer Italian cream cake?

And I just need to tell you: this cake from was out of this world.  It has easily made my top five desserts list.  Don't judge it by its picture.  Just make it.  Coconut and chopped pecans gave it delicious texture and flavor (without being too sweet), and it must have been the buttermilk combined with the beaten egg whites that made it melt-in-your-mouth fluffy.  Topped with cream cheese frosting.  Winner.

(Technical side note: I debated and researched long and hard whether this cake needed to be refrigerated after being frosted with cream cheese frosting... I decided to take a chance, and it was fine!  I probably wouldn't let it sit out for more than a couple days, but the sugar must act as a sort of preserving agent so the cream cheese doesn't spoil.)

At least once every week or so I get the baking itch.  It's just what I do.  It's my hobby.  It's my comfort zone.  It's my art form.