Cake
CakeNickcake, ViennaComment

Viennese Raisin Coffee Cake

Vienna is the undisputed world capital of cake. There are layer cakes, mousse cakes, historical cakes (the Sachertorte of the Hotel Sacher has been a closely guarded secret recipe for over 200 years), and even plain cakes. I recently asked my friend Erika Lieben for her favorite. She wrote back a four-word response: Gehruerter Gugelhupf mit Rosinen (“beaten” coffee cake with raisins).

CakeNickcake, ViennaComment

Best and Easiest Carrot Cake

No cake is homier or more casual than a carrot cake, especially a carrot cake with a filling or topping of cream cheese frosting. This is loosely adapted from a recipe by Maida Heatter in her landmark Book of Great American Desserts.

Rehrücken

Typical of the Viennese love of the absurd, this rich chocolate almond cake is baked in a ridged, semi-cylindrical pan. After the chocolate icing is poured over the unmolded cake, it is stuck with pieces of slivered almond. Thus, it resembles a tied, larded, and sauced roast. For any of you who might not have the mold, this is equally delicious baked in a 10-inch round pan and served as an unwhimsical cake.

Wiener Gugelhupf

This popular Austrian cake (prepared in Alsace as well as Germany) probably migrated to France with Stanislaw Leszczynski, the exiled king of Poland who set up court in Nancy, capital of the Lorraine. The king was a legendary baker and he is credited variously with having introduced the baba and the savarin to France. Perhaps his interest in bread was passed on to his daughter Maria, who married Louis XV and became queen of France.

Apple and Calvados Bavarian Cake

Calvados, or aged French apple brandy, is produced in Normandy, one of the world’s great centers of apple cultivation. Sweet, tart, and bitter apples are first pressed and fermented into hard (alcoholic) cider, then the cider is distilled into Calvados that’s aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, often much longer for premium brands. Two-year-old Calvados is fine for making desserts, as is American applejack, which is made in a similar manner. This cake is for a special fall or winter occasion; it’s not only delicious, but beautiful as well. Crowned with a ring of apple wedges poached in white wine and glazed with apricot jam, it’s so impressive that everyone will ask you for the recipe.

Breton Apple Pie

A gateau Breton is a wonderful French cake, very much like a very dense pound cake, and is a specialty of Brittany. This non-traditional version of it adds a layer of a cooked apple filling between layers of the dough. The crust is easy to prepare—you just press it into the pan. For the top crust you’ll need a couple of cake cardboards or tart pan bottoms the same diameter as the pan. My dear friend Stephanie Weaver gave me this recipe close to 30 years ago and I have made it countless times, always to rave reviews. Because the baked dough has a cake-like rather than a crisp texture, it freezes beautifully—I keep a couple in the freezer around the holidays.

Banana Rum Coconut Layer Cake

Bananas make great cakes (and muffins, quick breads, tarts, and pie fillings). One thing about bananas, though, they have to be ripe. Never us a banana for baking if it is not at least dotted with brown spots, or even darker, or your cake won’t have any banana flavor. And always mash bananas with a fork or potato masher—don’t throw them in the food processor—mashed bananas impart a more vivid flavor to any batter or filling. I like whipped cream with this cake, but chocolate is also a natural with it, as would be fluffy egg white icing.

Raspberry Meringue Wedge

In the fall of 1986, I was teaching my first career-training intensive baking course at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking school when I learned that Peter’s birthday was a few days away. I asked Gaynor Grant, our registrar, what kind of a cake I should make for Peter, and she told me that he absolutely adored the raspberry meringue cake from Maurice Bonté’s bakery, then the best pastry shop in Manhattan.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

The is the easiest and best-tasting sponge layer you can imagine, and since it’s baked in two pans, you won’t need to slice through it to make a layer cake. Thanks to my friend Kyra Effren, one of the world’s great bakers, for sharing this recipe.

CakeNickcake, ViennaComment

Viennese Raisin Coffee Cake

Vienna is the undisputed world capital of cake. There are layer cakes, mousse cakes, historical cakes (the Sachertorte of the Hotel Sacher has been a closely guarded secret recipe for over 200 years), and even plain cakes. I recently asked my friend Erika Lieben for her favorite. She wrote back a four-word response: Gehruerter Gugelhupf mit Rosinen (“beaten” coffee cake with raisins).

CakeNickcake, ViennaComment

Best and Easiest Carrot Cake

No cake is homier or more casual than a carrot cake, especially a carrot cake with a filling or topping of cream cheese frosting. This is loosely adapted from a recipe by Maida Heatter in her landmark Book of Great American Desserts.

TORTA DI MANDORLE: LIGURIAN ALMOND CAKE

Slightly reminiscent of a French gâteau breton, this dense cake is perfect with a glass of sweet wine or a cup of tea. As a dessert, it would need to be dressed up with some fruit or berries.

RASPBERRY MERINGUE WEDGE

In the fall of 1986, I was teaching my first career-training intensive baking course at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking school when I learned that Peter’s birthday was a few days away. I asked Gaynor Grant, our registrar, what kind of a cake I should make for Peter, and she told me that he absolutely adored the raspberry meringue cake from Maurice Bonté’s bakery, then the best pastry shop in Manhattan.