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Favorite Cake

Fat Guy

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I love cake, yet it's extremely difficult to get a good cake anywhere -- you really have to make it yourself or pay a whole lot of money at a specialty bakery that does them right.

But enough griping. What's your favorite cake? Me, I'm a seven layer cake man (yellow cake, chocolate frosting). My mother makes a superior specimen, albeit in four layers.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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A friend of mine makes the most incredible Amaretto-Chocolate Cake in the old Grandma tradition. It is Mammoth and Uneven yet buttery Moist and Not ridiculously sweet. Served with a glass of iced milk..mmmmm. In the big picture I am a fat guy that loves any cake. Tired of German Chocolate though!

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Cake is probably too broad a category to have just one favorite and then again I'm not sure my favorites would be classified as a "cake." We're probably more into tartes and pastries.

I've had a Cupcake Cafe wedding cake and it was delicious. Wedding cakes are an art form all unto themselves. There's no reason they should taste as great as they look, but unfortunately many don't look all that good and taste even worse. Needless to say, the great ones are expensive.

There was an article in the NY Times about cakes in general, and I guess about birthday cakes and the like, at fine restaurants. It noted that cakes don't plate in the style most restaurant pastry chefs choose for desserts these days.

Greenberg's chocolate cake was for years our family choice for birthday cake. Any inscription was preferred in matching chocolate icing. I have a philosophical problem with added color in food, that's only partially related to the phobia of food additives. Our daughter's earliest birthday cakes were usually homemade cakes such as zucchini layer cake liberally frosted with Breyer's vanilla ice cream. As long as none of the kids knew it was zucchini cake, they gobbled it up. Sugar and butter were not on our list of things to be feared as long as they came uncolored.

Robert Buxbaum


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Its a toss up between really moist carrot and dark chocolate cake for me. We're assuming that "flourless" death by chocolate cake and cheesecakes are not cakes by the strictest definition here, since those two are really some of my favorite desserts.

Although a serious pound cake topped with strawberries and fresh whipped cream is a very, very close second.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I must be lucky, because on the rare occasions when I have had to buy a cake I've never had a problem finding a good one affordably.  Then again, I'm not sure what standards Fat Guy is using to define "a whole lot of money" at a bakery.  I don't think I've ever had to buy a cake that served more than 8 people--and I also rarely buy single slices--so one way or the other perhaps my standards of pricing don't apply.

The pleasingly simple Boston Cream Pie--if that counts as Cake--is my favorite.  Another Pie, Key Lime, is a close second.  A good Cinnamon Crumb Cake also ranks high in my estimation, and if Pies are disallowed would rank highest.

When I buy I don't usually cater to my own preferences though.  Simple chocolate cake, and sometimes a good white cake with cream and strawberries are frequent purchases--usually from the consistently excellent Miller's Bakery in Cliffside Park, NJ.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I’m not much of a cake person. I don’t get the attraction of light sponges or frosting. Heavy cake I find more appealing. Carrot cake, suet puddings and the like. Overall, I think I prefer tarts,  especially plum, apricot and cherry ones. The best tarts I’ve tasted were German (found in Bonn), but next on my list are tarts made by Plaza Sweets (521 Waverly Avenue Mamaroneck, NY 10543 800-816-8416; 914-698-0233). Todaro Bros (2nd @ 30 St, Manhattan) carry them, but Garden of Eden and Balduccis do not appear to  and their tarts are inferior.  Plaza Sweets' tarts have a lovely almond-y pastry base and they are not too sweet. Warm the tart and pour some cream on. They go down exceedingly well at dinner parties.

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For years our family birthday cake of choice was Chocolate Carrot Cake.  Without getting into precise recipes, use your favorite carrot cake recipe, omit the spices, add 1/3 cup cocoa per 2 cups of flour.  Frost with cream cheese frosting if you insist, but we gild the lily with chocolate ganache.

Why not!  (Back in the '70s, I even made this with whole wheat pastry flour, and no one was the wiser, although tremendously well nourished.)

eGullet member #80.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm not much of a weird flavor cake person. I like moist chocolate cake and creamy chocolate frosting. Don't put strange flavors in the cake. I'll skip desert at a restaurant if they only have some chocolate thing that has 9 layers with 40 flavors.

Boring? Maybe. Oh well.

Another favorite of mine is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Very creamy frosting. The light sugary stuff from bakeries doesn't do it for me.

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Quote: from abbeynormal on 11:15 pm on Sep. 2, 2001

Steven: Have you ever eaten an entire Sara Lee poundcake without taking it out of the freezer? Yum.

I keep wondering about that quote; do you mean you keep your head in the freezer the whole time, or do you come up for air?

I've gotten a tremendous amount of insight from this thread, and find myself nodding my head at almost every post. Oh, and about the whole wheat pastry flour; I use that in my cakes and in my piecrust, and kind of as an all-purpose flour. I buy it in bulk at Prana Foods (125 1st Ave.), although I imagine Whole Foods and other places have it as well.

And I'm definitely going to have to try that chocolate carrot cake; sounds great. (Gets the "why didn't I think of it" award from me.)

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Doesn't matter as long as it's good.  Usually in the summer I prefer less-heavy cakes (i.e., strawberry shortcake).  My father's main hobby is baking, which he's done as long as I can remember, so he's amassed a sizeable collection of dessert cookbooks and we can always count on a homemade cake for every possible family occasion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Depends on the cake and my craving for a particular flavor/filling at the time. I won't eat any cake that's make with buttercream - (most birthday cakes) for to me it tastes like pure lard. Also hate fruitcake. Too heavy and sweet.

Cakes with booze in them like rum cake, black forest cake, Grand Marnier cake, or almond filling are always my first choice. Also like cakes with fresh fruit that's not overcooked such as strawberry shortcake, blueberry tarts, apple cake. Also, although not a cake, the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street is terrific. Whoa! I've gotta stop as I'm getting really hungry.

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Funny you should mention Magnolia; I was just there today and had their flourless chocolate cake (they have a little individual one for ū.00). Heaven comes pretty cheap in that neck of the woods.

And I second it about the banana pudding at Magnolia; the first time I went there, I got a small cup to go and brought it home. It was enough for two servings - but of course I ate it all at once (couldn't stop). By the way, the banana pudding at Sweetheart Bakery (8th avenue between 13th and 14th) contains just a bit of banana liqueur; you might want to give that a try.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just love cheesecakes (I would say they are cakes, though I usually serve them as dessert), with any flavours: chocolate, white chocolate, mocha, almond or topped with fruit… If I make one myself, I sometimes like to combine different flavours like coffee and amaretto, or to make a layer of chocolate cheesecake topped with a layer of white chocolate cheesecake.

I also like a cake called French chocolate cake (I don't know why it's called that), it is not a flourless cake but the centre is very moist and soft.

I've never tried chocolate carrot cake, but I've made chocolate zucchini cake. It is also based on a recipe for carrot cake, but you use zucchini instead of carrot, add cocoa powder and some shaved chocolate. I first thought it sounded weird (and the batter doesn't look too tempting), but It's easy to make, very good and moist.    

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Not big on cake, but do like the kind of heavy but deeply flavoured traditional British fruit cake I grew up with.  Dense, lots of dried fruit, sultanas, raisins, etc, and usually some nuts.  You can eat it, unconventionally, with a slice of mature cheddar.  Glass of madeira too, please.  I haven't eaten it in ages, and I must now see if Myers of Keswick here in NY stock it.  I really don't like frosting or icing.

A lighter alternative: I quite enjoy those Italian pannetone things.  Not masterpieces of cuising, but again pleasant with a glass of madeira or even something sweeter like a Pedro Ximenez.

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Quote: from Wilfrid on 5:10 pm on Nov. 15, 2001

Not big on cake, but do like the kind of heavy but deeply flavoured traditional British fruit cake I grew up with.  Dense, lots of dried fruit, sultanas, raisins, etc, and usually some nuts.  You can eat it, unconventionally, with a slice of mature cheddar.

I have always loved fruit cake ("Boiled" fruit cake for preference), but I have only recently been introduced to this British idea of having it with Cheddar. Its rather nice like that (or was it the liqueur muscat I had with it?). I also love paneforte. When I got married, my wife and I got her sister to buy two 5 kilo panfortes in Sienna (Italy) and bring them back to Australia to have as our wedding cake. They were excellent.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Oh man, now you've done it.   My favorite cake:  When I was a teen my family and I were stationed at Langley AFB in Virginia.  There was a bakery-caterer in Hampton that we used a lot for parties.  They made the most heavenly petits-four ever ever EVER.  Classic in style, each one nested in its little paper cup, all different colors, very pale shades, with the teensy little decorative swirls and blossoms and whatnot.  They melted in your mouth ... I have tried many times to duplicate them, with no luck.  Am I correct, that petits-four are not, strictly speaking, any old cake cut up into little pieces and frosted?  These were of a distinct flavor, I think almondy, and the icing was very thin, but had the faintest "breaking" sensation when you bit into it.  Gawd ... I miss those cakes!  

The bakery also made big cakes with a round of marzipan on top, artfully painted, and the lightest buttercream you can imagine.  I'd have to say any cake with marzipan on board takes close second place after those long-gone petits-four, that I mourn with all my heart.

Oh Fat Guy! :sad:  Why did you have to remind me???


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  • 2 months later...

The 'Sachertorte' in

    'Foods of the World:  The Cooking of

    Vienna's Empire', Time-Life Books,

    New York, 1968.

is likely the best I know how to make.

The Black Forest Cherry cake in the

Time-Life book on German cooking, same

series, is a close second.

I like strong flavors and dense textures,

and I don't like baking powder.

Or, what's the best can do with chocolate,

coffee, vanilla, hazelnuts, walnuts,

almonds, apples, apricots, dark sweet

cherries, red sour cherries, strawberries,

raspberries, oranges, lemons, limes,

Kirschwasser, Grand Marnier, rum, sugar,

molasses, maple syrup, butter, cream,

eggs, and maybe even a little flour of

some variety or other?

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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Does anyone else remember the cake Paula Oland used to do for Ecce Panis?  It was chocolate genoise, layered with an airy coffee buttercream, topped with a chocolate glaze.  Not too sweet, intensely flavored, nice mix of textures.  I still daydream about it.

One of my favorite cakes to make is from Simone Beck (her 2nd solo cookbook, I think): a single chocolate layer, baked slightly underdone, the center scooped out & mixed with a cherry compote to make a filling, chocolate/butter glaze.

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Ah memories... The Candy Bar Cake is the best, easy to make, but still fancy looking & delicious cake ever IMHO. The "recipe" was from Better Home & Gardens (or some "woman's" magazine like that more than half my lifetime ago), and it's more of a technique than a recipe.

- Start with any flavor cake, baked in a single layer (either two rounds or one 9x13 sheet). I used to use any old chocolate cake mix, but would probably make a genoise if I ever make it again.

- Frost all over with whipped cream, then pipe additional cream into a slanted grid onto the top of the cake.

- Fill the resulting squares (parallelograms?) with alternating colors of jam (I prefer using best quality seedless raspberry and apricot preserves) The original recipe called for canned pie filling, but never used the whole can, and preserves are so much more flavorful.

- Line up Ande's Candies along the vertical side(s) like a fence (standing on end, the plain chocolate ones are best). It originally called for Hershey bars broken into thirds and overlapped around the perimeter, but that required disassembly before cutting. The Ande's chocolates are about 3/4" wide so they are easy to cut in between (and even help in portioning out the cake, "Do you want 2 or 3 candies worth?").

It comes out really beautiful and impressive looking and it is so delicious, even if made with a mix!

I couldn't find a picture of the cake, but here's a picture of Andes Candies   Andes.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

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