Published as a school fundraiser, with recipes submitted by parents, tested by the cookbook committee and eventually by professional chef and food stylist Jacques Faucher, And Then There Was Cake has an international flair and includes chapters on cookies, coffee cakes, muffins, chocolate, cupcakes and tarts, with special sections highlighting dairy recipes, Pesach desserts and fancy recipes for the mega ambitious or extremely talented baker. Interspersed in the 206 pages are words of inspiration submitted by current and former staff members as well as community leaders.
Almost five years in the making, And Then There Was Cake is a truly beautiful volume and you might find yourself torn between placing it on the shelf with your other cookbooks or leaving it on your coffee table to thumb through in a quiet moment (assuming there ever are quiet moments in your life.) While cupcakes may be all the rage today, for me they can’t hold a candle to a good muffin (no, the two words are not interchangeable) and I fell in love with such tempting selections like Babka Bites and the cheese topped Frothy Cappuccino Muffins. Ooey Gooey Chocolate Mud Bars look both uncomplicated and delicious and I am hoping my twelve-year-old daughter agrees to bake up a batch (or two) of them for me. That same daughter has already requested the You Are My Sunshine Lemon Meringue Cupcakes for her birthday “cake” this year. The Maple Pecan Pie sounds like a match made in heaven and the Coconut Tree Crepe Cake, comprised of layers of crepes, slathered with a white chocolate whipped cream coconut filling and coated with a coconut meringue topping is too intriguing not to try some Shabbos when I want to impress my guests. The Pesach section features a number of recipes that don’t use matzah meal, a special treat for those of us who don’t eat gebrokts, and the aptly named Cloud Cake, a glossy white cake made entirely of meringue, topped with whipped cream and fruit, is spectacularly breathtaking.
Not currently available in stores in either the United States or Canada, although that will hopefully change soon, And Then There Was Cake is priced at $50 Canadian (approximately $48 US), and can be ordered online at www.ha-cookbook.com or by phone at 514-489-5321.
* * * * *
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Rising time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
This brioche ranks near the top of the list of all-time favorite homemade baked goods. The unbelievable cinnamon scent diffused while this one is in the oven deserves special mention. Needless to say, the taste is second to none! The simple joy that comes from tearing off a warm chunk of brioche dough is simply the icing on the cake. Serve it comfortably after an elegant dinner or as part of a lovely breakfast with butter and jam.
Ingredients for the brioche dough
1¼ cups milk or soy milk
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1. Bring milk, sugar and vanilla extract to a boil in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves. Set aside and allow mixture to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes (the yeast will not rise properly if the milk is too hot).
2. Follow preferred method for kneading the dough:
Directions for kneading the dough by hand: Mix flour, yeast and salt in a small bowl. Add warm milk mixture and stir until dough comes together. Add melted butter gradually until combined. Turn out dough on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
Directions for kneading the dough with a mixer: Mix flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add warm milk mixture and mix at low speed until dough comes together. Add melted butter gradually and mix dough for about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
3. Transfer brioche dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour Topping 4. Place melted butter in a small bowl and set aside.