Skip to main content

A Cake Flop for a Fun Read #FoodieReads

Let's start with this: There is no recipe in this post. I wanted to be able to share a Hidden Heart Loaf Cake with this book post, but I ended up with a gooey, misshapen chocolate heart in most of the slices. So, I'll skip the recipe until I can produce a cake that not only tastes good, but looks pretty!

Okay, if you're still with me, I'll be sharing my thoughts on The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister* and recapping how my hidden heart loaf cake completely flopped. It tasted great, but it was unevenly baked. So, I'll be trying that again soon. For now, let's talk about the book that inspired this attempt.

On the Page

I didn't actually know that this was a sequel when I bought it. But, now that I've entered the world of Lillian and her restaurant, I will definitely be ordering that first book! This isn't a plot heavy novel; it's just a compelling series of character-driven narratives that intersect in a satisfying book. 

There's Lillian, a driven chef; Tom, Lillian's widowed live-in boyfriend; Chloe, Lillian's sous-chef; Finnegan, Lillian's dishwasher and aspiring boyfriend to Chloe; Al, Lillian's accountant who is in a deadend marriage; Louise, Al's angry, suspicious wife; and, finally, Isabelle, Chloe's Alzheimer-afflicted roommate.

But the real beauty to this book is Bauermeister's lyrical prose. I am definitely a fan of her writing now. Just a few examples that illustrate how the aromas waft right off the page and why I wanted to stick my fork right into the book a few times!

"Mrs. Cohen cooked, too—beef stew that had simmered all day, pancakes that weren’t pancakes but a combination of potatoes and onions and warmth that floated through the apartment and snuck into the pockets of his coat. And something she called a kugel, its name as playful as the smell of vanilla and sugar and cinnamon that came from the oven" (pg. 11).

"Al waited a moment, and then picked up the spoon and carefully tasted the soup. It smelled good, but he wanted his first reaction to be unobserved. The taste flowed across his tongue, a mix of sea and sky, warm cream and softened onions" (pg. 30).

"She looked at the produce stalls, a row of jewels in a case, the colors more subtle in the winter, a Pantone display consisting only of greens, without the raspberries and plums of summer, the pumpkins of autumn. But if anything, the lack of variation allowed her mind to slow and settle, to see the small differences between the almost-greens and creamy whites of a cabbage and a cauliflower, to wake up the senses that had grown lazy and satisfied with the abundance of the previous eight months. Winter was a chromatic palate-cleanser, and she had always greeted it with the pleasure of a tart lemon sorbet, served in a chilled silver bowl between courses" (pg. 73).

"When Lillian was young, clementines had been a highlight of winter, the boxes arriving in stores in early December, a gastronomical equivalent of Christmas lights. Expensive, foreign, longed for throughout the rest of the year, they were something to be saved for a special occasion. She could remember the thrill of eating the first one of the season, the way her thumb would slip under the loose peel, pulling it away from the squat, juice-filled fruit inside. She would ration out the box until it was clear that mold would beat her to the rest, and then she would eat one after another until it felt as if summer ran through her veins" (pg. 78).

Such vivid images that always succeeded in making me hungry.

On the Plate
I had recently seen a process for making a "hidden" design inside a differently colored cake. And it seemed easy enough. It wasn't. Or maybe I just didn't pick the correct kinds of cake.

I'll try again soon! I refuse to be bested by a buttermilk brownie and a buttermilk vanilla cake.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in October 2020: here.


  1. I did that once for Valentines day but with heart-shaped brownies in strawberry cupcakes! Of course it was much more difficult to remember how to properly cut the cupcake in half to see the heart!

  2. I think you are too hard on yourself. That cake is lovely,.

    1. Haha. Nope. That is food photography trickery...and the lone slice that didn't look like Frankencake. LOL.

  3. Unsuccessful recipes are so frustrating — you never know if it’s your fault or just a bad job of testing and explaining on the part of the recipe’s author. When you google for a recipe, it’s even more dangerous than using a cookbook!

    be well... mae at


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes

If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two. I've Pickled Blueberries , Pickled Asparagus , Pickled Cranberries , Pickled Pumpkin , and even Pickled Chard Stems ! This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them! Ingredients  makes 1 quart jar radishes, trimmed and sliced organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer) 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar) 3/4 C water 3 T organic granulated sugar 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt) 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper Proce

Aloo Tiki {Pakistan}

To start off our Pakistani culinary adventure, I started us off with aloo tiki - potato cutlets. I'm always game for tasty street food. I found a couple of different recipes and incorporated those together for this version. Ingredients 6-8 small red potatoes, scrubbed 1 T cumin seeds 1 T fresh chopped parsley 1/2 t ground coriander 1 t minced garlic Procedure Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and let cool. Mash the potatoes. Traditionally they are mashed without their skins. I left the skins on. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds on high heat until the begin to give off an aroma and begin to darken. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to keep them from cooking any more. Blend all of the spices into the mashed potatoes, then shape into small patties. If you wet your hands, the potato mixture won't stick to them. Heat a splash of oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Dip each patty into beaten egg and carefully place in the oil. P

Hot Chocolate Agasajo-Style {Spice It Up!}

photo by D For my Spice It Up! kiddos this week, I was looking for an exotic drink to serve while we learned about saffron. I found a recipe from food historian Maricel Presilla that mimicked traditional Spanish hot chocolate from the 17th century where it was served at lavish receptions called agasajos . When I teach, I don't always get to shoot photos. Thankfully, D grabbed my camera and snapped a few. Ingredients serves 14-16 1 gallon organic whole milk 3 T dried rosebuds - or 2 t rosewater 2 t saffron threads, lightly crushed 3 T ground cinnamon 3 whole tepin chiles, crushed 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise 1 C organic granulated sugar 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate Procedure In a large soup pot that can hold a gallon plus, combine milk, dried rosebuds (or rosewater, if you are using that), saffron threads, ground cinnamon, chiles, vanilla beans, and sugar and warm over medium heat till it steams. Whisk to dissolve sugar, then lower heat an