Friday, April 20, 2007
For me, getting ready for a road race means it's time to bake. Last Saturday, April 14, I ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon (my favorite of the New York Road Runners Club's borough half-marathon series). Then, despite any shred of common sense, I ran the Boston Marathon two days later.
A frantically overjammed workweek and a sadly overjammed gear bag precluded me from bringing goodies to my pals in Brooklyn. However, I spent Saturday afternoon and evening preparing some stuff for my pals in Boston.
In this sort of situation, baking for friends requires me to keep a mental tally of food likes and dislikes, allergies, and so forth. Because I knew I'd be seeing my friend Victor, I put something chocolate-hazelnut in my planning. I ended up making Chocolate Hazelnut Pound Cake with Shiny Chocolate Glaze from Nick Malgieri's Chocolate. The cake is lovely. It's lightened with whipped egg whites, which is an interesting technique. I guess I never think of pound cakes as being too leavened. I also had dragged out Chocolate after the previous Wednesday's New York Times food-section cover story on brownies; that story featured Nick's Supernatural Brownies, which also made my Boston menu and, conveniently enough, are also in Chocolate.
Because I'd spent some time perusing Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, I ended up making her Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars. These bars have a crust with the usual crust suspects (butter, flour, brown sugar) and some unexpected surprises (oats, chopped salted peanuts). A portion of the crust is reserved to be used as a streusel-like topping that goes over a gooey chocolate filling that contains salted peanuts and raisins. In her serving suggestion for these bars, Dorie recommends consuming them cold or even frozen. I thought they were great at plain old room temperature.
Finally, I made The Cake: Version 2.1, with pears and crystallized ginger. That flavor combination, which should have been obvious to me, was suggested by my friend Ken. I suppose that since he was due to get some of The Cake in Boston, he might have been a little self-motivated. In a word, The Cake Version 2.1 is a triumph. The pears and ginger are lovely together, although I think I ended up using pears that had gotten just a touch too ripe. The ginger is a nice addition and works well with the pears, the chocolate, and the other spices in the cake. Good suggestion, Ken. I'm also overjoyed that my friend Alison, from whom The Cake recipe came, was able to enjoy Version 2.1. (I'm already looking forward to cherry season for a new variation on The Cake.)