Friday, April 5, 2013

Pre-birthday pear tart!

We had a favored treat today from the Vienna Bakery in Barrington Road Island. It is their pear almond torte.  It is described as almond frangiapane with pears. What is frangiapane, you ask?
Frangipane is a filling made from or flavored like almondsThis filling can be used in a variety of ways including cakes, tarts and other assorted pastries. Originally designated as a custard tart flavored by almonds or pistachios it came later to designate a filling that could be used in a variety of confections and baked goods. These days it is normally made of butter, sugar, eggs, and ground almonds: beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, gradually beat in the eggs, fold in the ground almonds. In some anecdotes it was the kind of sweet that the noblewoman Jacopa da Settesoli brought to St. Francis of Assisi in 1226, when he was dying.  If the frangipane back then was as good as the stuff we had then St. Francis must have been very comforted.   It is very similar to Marzipan but not as dense.
A classic cake hour treat - Pear Almond Torte!

Well laid out bears on a bed of frangipane!

Thin tart crust as the base.

Slightly roasted pears after baking!

Cutaway view showing the layered construction.  
This is a favored treat of cake hour and as the person who brought it was celebrating his birthday on the next day, we were happy to indulge in his honor.  We even sang the Happy Birthday Song to him in a few languages, the easiest to learn of which is German. To sing this the way the Germans do just sing it in English with a German accent and you are there!

About a quarter to the bundt cake was still to be eaten!
For good measure we also had the remnants of yesterday's bundt cake available. As the pear torte usually is pretty popular and you can't always get the coveted second piece, we had the cake to whet the appetites of those who wanted a little more.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Overcompensating a little after Passover

Passover has passed over. It is the end of the observance so you don't have to restrict yourselves to tasteless matzos because they are flat and unleavened.  No, indeed, no you can eat something with leavening even if it is not made with yeast so you can get some air and moisture into your cake or other treat.  Today we had someone overcompensating for the lack of leavening by bringing in a cake that rose to the occasion for sure. 
Another great Providence Bakery!
After Passover a highly leavened bundt cake!

Cappuccino swirl through a regular vanilla cake!

It's about 8 inches tall too!

He brought in a Cappuccino Walnut Cake from Scialo Brothers Bakery in Providence. Considering this is all one cake and contains no layers it is impressive in how large it is.  It is a dense and very moist classic bundt style marble cake that really goes well with your afternoon cup of java.  The chocolate/cappucino swirls in the vanilla cake were flavorful. The look was very appetizing and all in all an impressive cake as are all the bundt cakes from Scialo Brothers.  They are certainly not small and even with our healthy cake appetites we had plenty left over for the next day. It was just as good then!
Nice balance of shades!

Good and moist - no dry cake here!

There was one little problem.  The walnuts, of which there is usually a smattering on top, were nowhere to be seen.  Perhaps this was the nut free variety but the description of this cake on the website certainly shows off the nuts.
The walnuts are missing!
Nonetheless, if you need a flour/leavening fix afters days of dry crackers and matzo ball soup, one of these bundt cakes is certainly a good option.
Easter leftover appetizers!

We also had some leftover treats from and Easter celebration.  These were sort of overlooked on a dessert table that included carrot cake, cheesecake, red velvet cake, tiramisu and a ice cream sundae buffet.  We served them in advance of cake hour to get everyone's appetite going!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mexican Bricks and some cocoanut barras

A quick trip to California brought us some Mexican inspired treats.  A couple of them were described as "bricks". This is a translation of the word ladrillo which does mean brick. Apparently it can also mean a brick-shaped cake. Something similar to a banana bread or a pound cake. I guess in Mexican Spanish banana bread might be a Ladrillo de Bananas. In any case a loaf type cake or similar.
Back with treats from California!

Strawberry Bricks!
The two that our friend brought along from a bakery in California were according to her Ladrillo de Fresa or Strawberry Brick  These were essentially a cross between a bread and a cake that was pretty dense. It was coated with a pink strawberry powdered sugar glaze hence the name.  Since it seemed it would be a stretch to eat a whole thing, we opted to slice them up. To our surprise and subsequent pleasure they were not heavy at all with the cake not being too sweet. Consequently the sugar coating did not come across as too sugary.  Despite the complete lack of familiarity these were very well received and we appreciate the effort to get them to us from a favored bakery in the Golden State.
This looks like you could build a house with it!
In addition we had some Barras de Coco.  We asked what this meant and our colleague hesitated a bit not really sure how to translate barras. Well we asked would the translation be coconut bars because that's what it looks like.  Bar was the word she was not too sure of but sure enough barras means bars.  However the description in Spanish refers to them as galletas. We already know that means cookies. So which are they?  Upon opening it became clear they were bar shaped cookies - kind of.  These were crisp and not overwhelmingly flavored with coconut.  They were the type of cookie that goes well with tea or coffee and that you could dunk.  As far as texture was concerned they are very similar to Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies. We enjoyed these also and were thus doubly thankful to our friend for thinking of us during her recent travels! 
If you had to guess would you translate them as Coconut Bars?

Galletas Sabor Coco - Cookies with cocoanut taste!

Interior wrapping a la Japan!

Shape and consistency of Bordeaux cookies!
We also had a new attendee at cake hour. Too bad dietary restrictions prevented him from eating anything. Oh well, maybe next time!

No cake, but I'd take a burger!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Leftovers and a another selection in the line of "Partially Eaten" cakes

If you saw the post from last week you would have seen the size of the Cake Hour Easter basket from this year.  As you can well imagine we did not finish it on Good Friday. Since we had a cake yesterday, today is the day that the basket returns as leftovers.  There was still plenty of the various Easter candies to be had although the number of Robin Eggs and the Cadbury Mini Eggs was starting to decline given that these are the favored treats.  It is traditional to east the bunnies last. Given the amount remaining the is basket is going to help us out at cake hour for a few days to come.  Especially since someone brought in the goodies they got at Easter for us to consume.  They did not want them in the house due to the possibility of adding a few Easter pounds.
Still plenty to go in this Easter basket!
Starting to decline.

New treats added post Easter!
Lastly we had another in a special product line that we think should be copyrighted and introduced world wide.  Such and such's "Partially Eaten" Passover Cake, or "Partially Eaten" Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.  This stems from the fact that the things brought in are usually leftovers from some personal event.  However rather than just bring them in and declare them as leftover, their presence is usually announced by the comment "I have a partially eaten................cake today." This made us think how it could be a private product line.  Whether it catches on, we shall see!
It's not leftover it's "Partially Eaten" Passover Cake
Today's "Partially Eaten" Passover cake of course had no leavening in it.  If you don't know why you don't know what Passover or Pesach, which is much more fun to say, is all about.  It was made with almond flour,  cocoanut and possibly some orange flavoring. There has to be some kind of shortening also because it did manage to stay moist.  It wasn't bad and was also gluten free  a bonus!. It made an acceptable counterpoint to the remnant Easter candy.  We hardly wait for the next "partially eaten" cake hour treat to show up.

Monday, April 1, 2013

An ex post facto wedding cake as we learn where zombies might come from

One of our students recently got hitched. We are very happy for her and since this was the first time she brought something since the nuptials to cake hour, where we could celebrate her marriage, we decided to consider this an unofficial cake in honor of her wedding albeit after the fact.  Of course we would have done something ourselves but she had to leave several days early for the preparation.
My first cake since I tied the knot!
So let's call it a wedding cake.

Somewhat more elaborate German chocolate cake

The cake was a commercial German Chocolate Cake.  Does this cake have anything to do with Germany?  Of course not!  But you knew this because you had seen our previous blog postings  about this cake.  This one was very moist with the classic chocolate cake and cocoanut frosting. On the inside there was a chocolate butter cream, instead of the cocoanut frosting, between the two layers. We're not sure if this is the classic interpretation but we were okay with it.  On the side it was embellished with chocolate crunch, white and toasted cocoanut. The latter being somewhat brown in color.  This decoration was a nice touch and made it a little more colorful. On top there was a ring of chocolate butter cream and a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup.  These were visual elements that did not take away from the quality of the product not interfere with the taste.

Two types of cocoanut and chocolate crunch for decoration!
The traditional cocoanut frosting with some added effects
The cake was very fresh and thereby moist and since it was not ridiculously slathered in gooey frosting it was lighter that you would have expected.  Not at all bad!  We only managed to polish off about half of it, however, so there is plenty to go around for a second round assuming the second shift doesn't devour it after we leave.
Butter Cream on the inside!
We only go through half!
We somehow got onto a conversation about zombies having no soul.  We were told that the soul supposedly weights 21g. In other words when someone dies right after death the body should weigh 21g less than when it was alive.  We imagined how someone could check this experimentally and it was suggested that premature infants that don't make it would be a good model to test this because they are so small. This got us imagining what you would do to prove this. Weigh them, let them expire and then weigh them again? Imagine trying to get that experimental protocol approved!
The necessary tools to deal with premature birth or else...

The subsequent conclusion that as regards the above scenario, infants born too early and don't survive would have no soul prompted the response, "Are they zombies then?"  And from this it expanded to planning the next horror movie based on the premise that zombies come from premies that don't survive.  That would be an interesting screenplay. comes back as a zombie and we get the...

 This is what happens when a pathologist and a pediatrician think too out loud.