There's Always Room for Cake

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 29 comments
Banana-Mango Yogurt Cake

Let sleeping dogs lie - or in this case, dormant blogs. Sage bit of advice though it is, I'm about to completely ignore it.

It's been quiet hereabouts for the past six weeks and for no reason other than I've had nothing terribly interesting to offer. When I started this blog, I resolved never to toss out some random scrap of a post for the sake of filling a blank screen. So, there have been a few months featuring just a single entry as well as my first zero-post period last November, during our big move to the Philippines. That hiatus resulted in plunging statistics and lost visitors, but that's the way the unattended porridge burns. When I was ready again, I simply scraped the pot clean and started anew. But six months later, another goose egg is about to be laid and this time, I'm not OK with it. Faced with a posting gap that I fear could turn into a blogging sinkhole, I've decided to suspend my moratorium on placeholder posts.

I thought it might be difficult to go against my own rules, but it turned out to be a piece of cake . . . several whole cakes, as a matter of fact.

Cakes I Have Known

In my last post, I noted that serving cake means it's a party; judging from what follows, I've been partying very well. I didn't realize how many fabulous cakes there have been in my recent past until I reviewed my photo files. Rather than consign them to eternal digital code purgatory where their frosted glory will languish unseen, I offer this tangled gallery of les gâteaux délicieux.

Grocery Store Cakes

For years, my birthday cake of choice has been a white-frosted vanilla 'bar' cake from SuperTarget. A small rectangle sliced from an industrial-sized sheet cake kept frozen in the store's bakery freezer, it boasts a half-inch layer of shortening and sugar (a.k.a. icing) tinted in the most garish primary colors. How I miss that cake! Bakery buffs may sniff, but I have a soft spot for grocery store cakes, like the German Chocolate my in-laws served for my birthday last year, and the Black Forest confection that made an appearance at a family reunion this past February.

German Chocolate (left) and Black Forest cakes

Too-Beautiful-to-Eat Cakes

Sometimes, I'm content just to stare at fantastically decorated cakes, such as these amazing creations from Marta's Cakes in Serendra at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. It really doesn't matter what they taste like - I doubt I could bear to cut into one of them...

Entertaining Cakes: Film, Theater and Literature
Trendy Fashion and Classic Style
Whimsical Confections
('Take One' cake from Little Miss OC's Kitchen at YummyEats)

Ice Cream Cakes

When I think of ice cream cakes, I think of Carvel's Fudgie the Whale and the early-1980s low-budget commercials that would run incessantly just before Father's Day, touting it as a perfect treat. For the longest time, I thought a cetacean-shaped cake was as traditional a gift for Dad as flowers are for Mom. With Father's Day coming up but no Carvel stores in the Philippines, perhaps my dear paterfamilias will be content with frozen desserts from local restaurants, such as the Mango and Cream Cake from Oyster Boy at MetroWalk or a Frozen Brazo de Mercedes from Red Crab Alimango House at Fort Bonifacio.

Mango (left) and Brazo de Mercedes frozen desserts

Buffet Cake Bites

Though I've sworn off buffets, I can't completely avoid them since they're the food arrangement of choice for large family events. Buffet table seems to bring out the glutton in everyone: despite there being two other cakes and a large bowl of fruit salad during a cousin's recent birthday luncheon, I witnessed the merciless hacking of a magnificent cake when hungry guests were left to serve themselves. Thankfully, more savvy caterers know to offer pre-portioned servings to avert a dessert massacre, like Chef Jessie Sincioco, whose eponymous restaurant in Rockwell, Makati City offers a bite-sized yet regal pistachio Sans Rival called Princess Carmen. And at our Noche Buena a few years ago, a lovely Croquembouche was a delectable centerpiece from which we could all enjoy a cream puff.

Croquembouche and 'Princess Carmen' pistachio Sans Rival

Homemade Cakes

When I bake a cake, it's inevitably of the Bundt- or coffee- variety: easy, fool-proof and no messy frosting required. While I certainly hope to expand my repertoire and improve my skills by trying more complicated recipes, these simple cakes have never let me down.

This Honey Saffron Christmas Cake with sugared citrus peel was actually made for our Thanksgiving dinner in 2008 from a recipe by my friend Cris, who blogs at From Our (Brazilian) Home to Yours.

The Chocolate Angel Food Cake was a quickie dessert, perfect for the summer strawberries and whipped cream I had on hand.


Craving-Just-a-Slice Cake

When I'm not feeling greedy for a whole cake, I'm thankful for BreadTalk, a carb-lovers paradise conveniently located nearby. This Singapore-based bakery offers a delicate Chocolate Mousse Cake in single servings, for those moments when I need an emergency chocolate cake fix.





Birthday Cakes

During one birthday, just a few years ago, I didn't get a cake. I will only say that I made my disappointment known and that Mr. Noodle quickly rectified the situation with a requisite SuperTarget Vanilla Bar cake. Spare me the flowers and balloons, but never - ever - forget the cake! As if to make up for that blip, the past year has seen a happy parade of celebration cakes in my family:

From rich chocolate to whimsical princess....

Blue candle for him, pink flowers for her

Hers (Fruit and Cream topped with Macarons) and His (Chocolate Feuillantine), from Patrick's Bakery in Edina, MN - sweet gifts from my sister-in-law KEP...

French bakery cakes, topped with macarons and edible gold foil

The Best Birthday Cake - EVER!

Estrel's Original Caramel Cake is the kind of perfection that will ruin you for any other cake. The most sublime chiffon cake, of such delicate sponginess and subtle vanilla flavor, is covered with a thin layer of what the bakery calls 'caramel' icing but is really more like a spreadable leche flan - impossibly creamy, rich without being heavy, sweet without being cloying. Decorated with pure buttercream roses and lacy patterns, this cake was so beautiful, there are more photos of it than of me on my birthday. Thank goodness Estrel's Caramel Cakes are made to order and found in just one location - it keeps me from planning a daily trek for a piece of cake...

It was a very happy and delicious birthday indeed!

Banana-Mango Yogurt Cake
(from a recipe by Kristen Anderson, Good Taste magazine 2/97)

This may be a placeholder post, but it would seem incomplete without a recipe to offer. I haven't been baking much - as you may have noticed, it's almost too easy to find good cake here. However, it's nice to have something home-baked, especially when my parents stop by our apartment for some coffee and dessert. Just a few minutes out of the oven, this cake is moist and sweet, with a delightful sugar-crisp top. After it is completely cooled, store in the refrigerator. Although the crisp crust will soften, the cake's dense texture improves when chilled!


As I mentioned, coffee cakes are my go-to baked goods (other than cookies) to serve company and I was pleased to find this easy recipe online, to which I made just a few of substitutions. For complete ingredients and instructions, please check out the original recipe here.

Ingredients

Butter
Caster sugar (I reduced amount in recipe by 1/5)
Eggs
Ripe bananas, mashed
Plain yogurt (I used a sweetened yogurt with mango chunks)
Flour
Baking Powder
Chopped walnuts (instead of shredded coconut)

Preheat oven; butter a 8x8 square cake pan. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time. Fold in mashed bananas and yogurt. Sift together flour and baking powder, then fold into the batter until just combined. Spoon mixture into buttered pan and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.


Which of the cakes shown here do you like the best?

29 comments:

  • vanillasugar said...

    well i would have to go with the last one with the ganache covering on it. only because i want to slice into it and see what it looks like on the inside. i'm all about the shiny gold stuff--perhaps its my ADD.
    nice to see you back....
    i'm due for a break

  • Elin said...

    Yea...I have room for this too. Lovely banana mango yoghurt cake ! I shall try making this :) Mango and banana a good combo.

    Have a nice day,
    Elin

  • Anonymous said...

    Yay! My "4th" bday cake made your blog. Thank you!!! Great memories from my recent trip to the PI.

  • Caroline said...

    WOW that's a lot of cakes! And I agree, that caramel cake may very well be the best birthday cake ever, how come I never heard of Estrel's? It's almost 2AM & here you got me googling for a recipe.

    I hear you about the dormant blogs, mine's going on 8 weeks now. I'd like to think it took a spring break :) At least I am busily cooking and baking. I have all the ingredients for your banana-mango cake, will give this a try.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    I love cake. Can you tell?

    Vanillasugar - Yes, ganache is the right word for this! I would've snapped a photo of a slice of the caramel cake but the moment it was on a plate, I was chowing down... As for the gold foil, that was my first time ever - it felt so luxe, even if it didn't really taste like anything! 8-)

    Muppy - The princess cake was for a birthday girl celebrating 40+ years!! A family friend ordered the cake but didn't tell the bakery it was for an adult, just that it was for a female celebrant. As for the banana yogurt cake, I hope you do try it - it's so easy to make and delicious. 8-)

    Elin - I'm so lucky to have found mango yogurt! And your absolutely right about the manog-banana pairing. But I'm also curious to try other flavors such as strawberry and banana. I'll have to experiment... 8-)

    Anonymous - Hehe! It was such a cute cake but I never got a piece of it!! 8-( Come back soon and we'll get you a caramel cake, too. 8-)

    Caroline - I know: I've been over-caked! If you find a recipe or try making it yourself, let me know. But first, come here and visit me so that you can taste the original! Other bakeries have attempted it (I've sampled them) but none can match Estrel's expert combo of flavor & texture. And her chiffon cake is PERFECT.

    I'm a bit bummed out and nervous - my stats have tanked! But like you say, it's like a vacation from blogging. My husband reminded me of all the other activities happening that were the reasons for such a long break. He's right: they're all worth the low stats & lost visitors! I miss reading your stuff, too, but know that when you get back to your blog, it will be just as fantastic as always! 8-)

    Penny - Thank you! I found the recipe from Taste.au (I think that's the domain) and just made the substitutions. The original recipe is so versatile, I'm going to change up the flavored yogurt, although the banana is a must. 8-)

  • sophia said...

    I'm not a cake fan, I have to admit. I don't like cakey textures. But dang...banana and mango and yogurt? That sounds amazing, and it sure looks gorgeous!

    Hope you're feeling better, dearie! <3<3

  • Lori said...

    Mango Banana? Oh you are making me wish for tropical climates. I thoroughly enjoyed this cake parade. My mom had a cake business when I was growing up so it brought to mind all the cakes I've seen in my day as well. :)

    I know I'm only one reader, but I will always be back to check and see if you have something new whether you take off 6 weeks or 6 months!

  • Brenda said...

    Glad to hear you are doing well and can def commiserate on the blogging hiatus. :) Hope you are enjoying the Philippines and all that life has to offer there!

  • ValleyWriter said...

    I love that you admit to loving grocery store cakes. There is just something about them that I find irresistable! Sure, a fancy chocolate ganache cake with raspberry filling and gold foil decorations is just lovely, but every once and a while you just need a good ol' fashioned grocery cake!

  • Midge said...

    Glad to see you're up and blogging. (And I hope you'll be able to come to the next workshop; it's going to be a hands-on one!) As for the cakes, I've always been such a sucker for cream puffs, so the croquembouche - definitely the croquembouche!

  • lisa is cooking said...

    I always love an ice cream cake, and the croquembouche is a lovely thing. I do enjoy cake! The banana, mango, yogurt, and walnuts in your cake sound like a delight.

  • Jenni said...

    Placeholder or not, it's so nice to read your words and hear your voice again (in more than 140 characters at a time)! That caramel cake sounds amazing:)

    Seems like you live in a very Cake Rich Environment. Lucky. =D

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Rebecca - I'm trying to figure out how they made that rounded shape! I had fun with this post, especially eating most of the cakes. 8-)

    5 Star - Thank you! My dad is not a baked goods kind of person, but he loved this cake. As for posting, I'm hoping I'm back in the groove. 8-)

    Sophia - Thanks! I am feeling much better and getting back my blogging mojo. Now that you put it that way, just banana, mango and yogurt sound so delicious right now. 8-)

    Hornsfan - So glad you enjoyed the cakes! I will continue sampling as many as possible, in case I need another placeholder post. 8-)

    Lori - I am getting spoiled with all the delicious mangoes that are everywhere! Glad you liked the cake gallery - I enjoyed all the ones I tasted and wish for a piece of the really fancy-decorated ones. Thanks for hanging in there with me! New post coming soon... 8-)

    Brenda - You've got quite a bit on your hands with your growing family and a new home! Life is going well here in Manila and I managed to survive my first summer. Now, I just have to keep my head above water during rainy season! 8-)

    Pigpigscorner - I love layer cakes, too! I like that extra bit of icing or special filling. 8-)

    Let Me Eat Cake - I ate them all! 8-P The banana mango yogurt cake is so easy to make, I'm sure you'll love it. 8-)

    ValleyWriter - I love all manner of cake, but I feel like I can enjoy a grocery store cake with total abandon, whereas with a fancy cake, I need to be a bit more ladylike. 8-)

    Midge - I hope so, too - hands-on demos are so much fun! Cream puffs definitely hit the spot. I won't say how many of this croquembouche I hogged to myself. 8-)

    MrsLavendula - I am now determined that any event with which I am involved will have to have an Estrel's cake! 8-)

    Lisa - Ice cream cakes have always been special for me, too, though I prefer the ones that are half 'cake' and half ice cream. The banana mango yogurt cake turned out so well and now it's a favorite of my husband and dad! 8-)

    Chef D - As I said in the post, it's a good thing Estrel's is far away because I would eat a slice every day if I could! Thank goodness for Nestle Mango yogurt - it works great for this cake recipe. 8-)

    Jenni - It is indeed a Cake Rich Environment here in balmy Philippines. We Filipinos luuuuurve our cake! I hope that I can be a bit more consistent with blogging but it's so nice to know that my friends are so patient. 8-)

    Adventuresintheredkitchen - I imagine that you have access to some fantastic baked goods in Prague, but I must say that the Estrel's Caramel Cake is something special. 8-)

  • kat said...

    When we were in Stockholm at waitress at one restaurant told us there is a separate stomach for cake & no matter how full you are that stomach is always empty.

 

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