Two things occurred to me when I made this cake:
1) This is the best pound cake I have ever made
2) I really need to start baking from something other than “The Cake Book.”
In fact, I think I really need to break from my “comfort zone” of baking books and websites (ie davidlebovitz.com and leitesculinaria.com) in order to pursue new inspiration. Every now and then I look to the lesser-perused volumes of my cookbook collection, but i’m starting to realize that several of them are, for lack of a better word, terrible.
I find it hard to admit that I dislike a cookbook. I understand (or at least hope) that a book is the product of someone’s time, labor, and love. Since I am not producing glorious cookbooks for everyone to consume, who am I to shoot them down? That said, plenty of cookbooks are fraught with typos or untested recipes. There are also otherwise great cookbooks with one or two dud recipes. Some people turn to cookbooks for inspiration, but I often look to them for the promise of a product- a recipe that, when executed with care and precision, will yield something I will want to eat and share with others.
I have high hopes for some newer titles i’ve requested through interlibrary loan. I’m hoping to find something unexpectedly brilliant that lifts me out of this rut of familiar authors and cookbooks with the word “best” in the title.
At a conference last Friday, Jason Griffey mentioned the Honeywell Kitchen Computer– a $10,600 microcomputer that included a two week binary programming course. Note the built in cutting board.
To paraphrase Jason, in 1969 there was a computer that could fit in your house. Unfortunately, the best function its creators could come up with was recipe retrieval.
Perhaps certain iphone apps, mobile websites, and nintendo games are a logical extension of this idea. Personally, I’d be wary of keeping any of these devices in the kitchen. I like to get messy in the kitchen, and I can easily picture an iPhone or iPad getting burnt or doused in something wet or sticky. There’s also the distraction factor- if I have to consult a recipe more than once or twice, it’s usually because I haven’t read it well enough to begin with. You don’t want to have to run back to look at a recipe when you have temperature sensitive components on the stove…
This is not to say paper copies fare any better. I once splashed a tiny bit of vegetable oil on my favorite carrot cake recipe and put it back into a folder without thinking. Months later, I opened the folder to find the page crawling with tiny, white bugs. After a few incidents of chocolate or cake batter fingerprints on my favorite baking books, I started paraphrasing my recipes on pieces of scrap paper.
Now, I try to keep my books away from the kitchen- propped open on desks or counters far away from the action. I like printouts from blogs and websites because they’re disposable. Chefs i’ve worked with kept their recipes on cards either laminated or protected in plastic photo pages. Don’t get me wrong- I love recipes in digital formats. I just don’t think i’ll be viewing them from the kitchen anytime soon.
I made this cake a second time for a labor day party. The all-white version was elegant, but I prefer the taste and texture of toasted coconut. Lately, i’ve been labeling all of my potluck contributions with toothpick flags. They’re fun to customize- I use Tombow permanent adhesive to affix the paper to the picks.