Sometimes you plan on making a dessert for a specific occasion and then something comes up. The dessert doesn’t get made, but the desire to make that dessert stays strong.
This happened with these coffee cakes. I thought they would make the perfect little snack when we had company recently, but the weekend was full of food and these perfect cakes didn’t get made. Which was a shame. Until this past weekend, when I decided that even though I said I would bring dessert to a friend’s dinner party, I would bring these. Coffee cake doesn’t only need to be served in the afternoon. It can also be served after dinner with coffee.
Last year a very good friend hosted a good-bye party and I volunteered for cake duty. She had two requests: red velvet cake and something with poppy seeds. Everywhere I looked for a good poppy seed cake recipe, I came across the same combination of poppy seed and lemon: lemon poppy seed muffins, lemon poppy seed coffee cake, lemon poppy seed cupcakes, etc, etc, etc. When I came across this recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook, I was intrigued by the illustration, the method, and the combination of lemon poppy seed with an orange glaze.
(Yes, Mollie Katzen handwrote the entire cookbook!)
She loved the cake. I have to say, I was more enamored with the Red Hot Red Velvet cake which was at the same event. I had the obligatory piece of this cake, but it didn’t leave much of an impression.
But yesterday, I was in the mood to make a Bundt cake, so I came back. And it was much better than I remembered! Super moist, super poppy seed-y, super citrus-y. Definitely a keeper.
When it’s rhubarb season I can’t resist buying a bunch of rhubarb every time I see it. So I have a lot of rhubarb in my fridge for a couple of weeks. Which means I need to make a lot of rhubarb dishes.
I’d already made my favorite rhubarb lemon bundt cake. And my favorite rhubarb ginger coffee cake. So it was time to try a new recipe.
And then the stars aligned. I found dried hibiscus flowers at an exotic stall at the local market. And I happened to have fine corn flour in the fridge and corn meal in the pantry. And I had a party coming up. The perfect combination for corn-rhubarb tartlets.
I try to be a culturally sensitive tourist when I travel around. And one of my main strategies for doing that is sampling – and re-sampling – local cuisine. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I especially enjoy trying out local desserts.
It’s not sufficient to just taste delicious goods while in an exotic location, I also want to be able to make the dessert when I get home! So I also always look for a cookbook.
Last April we spent two weeks in Belize. We traveled by public bus. On a national holiday. Which basically meant we spent most of the day waiting at the bus depot in the capital city. Where the main delight was powder buns. Which are delicious. So of course I needed to get the recipe.
Everyone has shortcomings and failings. One of mine is definitely an inability to cut back on the amount and variety of food I prepare for parties. Thanksgiving is definitely my worst offender.
I have been known to make 8 different pies.
For a group of 12 people.
That wouldn’t be so bad if pie was the only thing I was serving. But I also go overboard with biscuits, cornbread, stuffing, dressing, vegetable sides, cranberry sauce, turkey (of course), and the list goes on.
But this isn’t a post about Thanksgiving. This is a post about how a friend who is a regular Thanksgiving guest requested my sweet potato biscuits as part of my May Day brunch. He thought they’d taste fantastic with bacon and maple syrup. He figured that’s the kind of thing Americans eat for brunch.
So I brought out what I think of as a fall dish, a dinner dish, a Thanksgiving dish for a spring brunch. And, just like at Thanksgiving, everyone loved them. They were gone in a flash.
Five years ago I had a dessert party and a friend from North Carolina fell in love with my sticky toffee pudding. It was the first time I had tried the recipe and it was definitely memorable. A couple of years later, exploring Covent Garden, we came across a vendor selling sticky toffee pudding. After explaining just how high our standards were, the nice woman convinced us to buy a portion. Needless to say, it was a great disappointment.
Last year, this friend requested my sticky toffee pudding for his 50th birthday. To be delivered to him wherever he was in the world on the day. I agreed, halfway hoping he’d be in Hong Kong so I would have an excuse to travel there.
April 30th rolled around, and the famous sticky toffee pudding made an appearance – with a birthday candle and fun birthday hat – to much public acclaim. “Lovely.” “Heavenly.” “Beautiful.” “Delicious.”
So I figured I’d add it to the blog. Continue reading