Who doesn’t love a slice of thick frosted cake? No, I’m not talking about the supermarket cakes of yore, those with icing so cloying and sweet, so artificially colored that you wondered whether you’d soon start turning bright blue, as they say you are what you eat.
I’m talking about those sky-high chocolate-on-chocolate cakes, the mocha confections, the carrot cakes with lush icing. In the Bay Area, my all-time favorite cake bakery was the Prolific Oven. Their chocolate mocha cake, dark, sensual and oh-so-rich was simply to die for. I loved the chocolate orange almond, with fluffy layers of almond intertwined with luscious chocolate and a hint of orange. And don’t get me started on their carrot cake. The cream cheese frosting, tangy and sweet, melts in your mouth, partnered with crumbly chunks of cake and carrot. Sigh.
In Los Angeles, the perfect cake could be found at Sweet Lady Jane, which made no healthy excuses in this land of models, stars and dieting and featured a display counter full of sin. My favorites were the carrot cake — the slices so thick and rich they were impossible to finish in one sitting — and the German chocolate cake.
I started dreaming of cakes after reading Alex Wichtel’s gorgeous essay in the New York Times today. She reminds us that while flourless chocolate cakes and fancy desserts may be in vogue, there’s nothing like a big hunk of cake to please the palate.
I loved this paragraph:
Whatever happened to good old-fashioned cake? Those tall, frosted showgirls of my youth, preening on their high crystal stands. Even birthday cakes used to be more fun, before every yuppie mother convinced herself her little darlings would grow up to be serial killers if she didn’t bake a lopsided, semi-burnt atrocity, instead of letting the professionals do it. Pink buttercream roses are a birthright, for heaven’s sake, and internists and hedge fund managers should recognize the possibility that someone else knows how to do something even better than they do.
The boyfriend is arriving in Santa Barbara tomorrow and I’m inspired to bake, so stay tuned for a chocolate cake recipe (a bit healthier than the one Wichtel gives you, I admit)!