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Can you explain the term “layer cake” without using your hands? For the purpose of this article, I asked a few people to try. It was interesting to see how each one needed her hands in order to explain it! Try this little experiment on your friends and you’ll see what I mean.

Now, you’re probably wondering why the greatest advocate of fast and easy preps in the kitchen is talking about layer cakes, right? Well, I must admit that sometimes even we prepare layer cakes – usually for a simcha, ours or a neighbor’s, and it’ll be one of my girls (not me!) who’ll do it.

However, since having layered cream cakes on hand is not a regular phenomenon in our house, I’ll have to confess that the residents here (nine in number) are prone to “allow themselves” a “taste” or two. If you do your math correctly, two pieces for nine members equals eighteen, meaning there isn’t much cake left for the purpose it was made. I’m not kidding; more than once, when the time came to bring out the fancy cake, only a few misshapen particles remained. How embarrassing and frustrating!

Even though I was able to identify with those who felt an irresistible urge to grab a bite from the freezer (maybe because I myself was prone to that same urge…), I knew we needed to solve this problem. Noticing it was easier than pie to stick a small hand into a full box of already-cut-up-pieces of layer cake and downing it without much thought of the consequences, my biggest “nosher” came up with a brilliant solution.

“Saran wrap!”

Before I caught on, said “nosher” was already scrupulously wrapping our pretty layered cakes in layers of sticky saran wrap.

“You’ll see Ma, no one will feel like going through all these plastic layers to get to the baked layers. Trust me,” she said, winking.

I’ll admit, she was right! From then on, this foolproof method (which is also a great idea for the weight conscious), well, how should I put it – takes the cake!

Here are some Q&A’s about cakes, just in time for simcha season:

Q. I was wondering about substituting the margarine with oil in pastry doughs. Isn’t it the margarine that accords the crispy texture of typical pastries?

A. To some extent, you’re right. Puff pastry just wouldn’t be puffy without the margarine that’s smeared between the layers of dough (that’s why we do without).

But there’s no margarine in our chocolate chip cookies and they come out crispy just the same! What I’d suggest is substituting a small amount of margarine with oil for starters. If you’re satisfied with the outcome, try deducting more of the margarine. Gradually you’ll reach the ratio that works for you.

Q. I’d like to make a homemade jelly roll for our upcoming simcha, but I’m not sure how to roll and fill it.

A. Your questionsendsme down memory lane to when I was just newly married. I mentioned to my mother-in-law that there was a fantastic cream filled jellyrollat myengagement partyand I wanted to know where she got it. “Imadeit!” she informed me. Seeing the stunned look on my face (it never occurred to me you can make it yourself), my mother-in-law proceeded to explain how it’s done. “You place the baked layer on a kitchen towel and thenrollthem up together…” Now I was really baffled! Then how does the cream get into the roll and how on earth do you slice it with the towel inside?!

Well, now I know how it goes: