Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Banana Pound Cake

The other day, I needed to make something for a parent-leadership alumni group meeting. Since I had some overripe bananas -- it doesn't take much for bananas to grow overripe in the hot, humid conditions we've been dealing with lately -- I decided it was time for a banana cake. A quick pass through Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours provided a great candidate: this banana pound cake. Although I knew the cake was good, I couldn't help but tweak it. I added about a cup of mini chocolate chips, then some toasted coconut and pecans (left over from a recent Junior's cake). I reserved some of the coconut and pecans, figuring I'd use it as a garnish sprinkled on some chocolate glaze.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hospitality No. 1

Last month, I was elected to the board of the local skating club. I'm now the hospitality chair. I can't imagine how my name became associated with the idea of hospitality (read: food); it's really something of a shocker.

Last Friday, I had to do my first big hospitality gig: providing food for a group of judges who were coming to work at a test session at the rink. Judges do these testing gigs on a volunteer basis, so it's a big deal to provide them with something good (and warm) to eat. For the menu, I took a cue from the previous hospitality chair: soup, sandwiches, fruit, dessert. For the sandwiches and fruit, I relied on prepared items. I made the soup, though: for this session, a batch of black bean soup that turned out really well. (I know it was good; there was some leftover.)

Then, of course, there was an opportunity to make dessert. My first dessert choice was the ever-reliable, ever-popular Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake from Fine Cooking, only this time I tried it with lemon. This is simply a recipe that can do no wrong. The cake was a big hit. (I'm extremely excited that Nicole Rees, who created this recipe, has a cookbook coming out later this year.)

Because no dessert tray is complete without a chocolate option, I made a batch of the chocolate cupcakes from More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey, frosted with a chocolate buttercream from the same cookbook. Definitely a tried-and-true pair of recipes for me, and also a hit.

I think we have another test session coming up at the end of August. It's going to seem like a cliche, but I think I'll be making another pound cake featuring blueberries again.

Birthday Cake

One of my colleagues needed a birthday cake for his spouse, and I was happy to oblige with this favorite. I like it when I pick up a for-hire gig from time to time. It's always so much fun to deliver a cake in a box. Makes me feel almost like a professional baker.

Milky Way Cake

I've made this recipe before, and it's a good one. I'm still amused that somehow, someone thought it would be a nifty idea to melt some Milky Way candy bars and use them as the ingredient in a pound cake. I guess it was someone who simply didn't want to make their own batch of chocolate caramel. This time, I added some toasted pecan and coconut mixture left over from one of the Junior's cakes that I've made recently. The glaze is from Elinor Klivan's Fearless Baking.