First, I owe you a big, fat thank you! As you have probably figured out from that new badge over on the right, Love, Cake is one of the 6 finalists in the Best Baking and Desserts category of this year’s Saveur Blog Awards. I’m really excited (and frankly a little shocked) to be included. The finalists make up a serious group of talent. Internet heavy-hitters. I know I made that list because of you and your generous nominations. So thank you a hundred times over. I’m so grateful. Click here to see the full list of finalists and vote for your favorites in all 13 categories.
And, wait! There is another shiny new badge over to the right. My cookbook is available for pre-order! Yesterday my kind accountant Steve forwarded me his Amazon order confirmation email with a note that said, “At least you know of one order. “ I will take it, Steve! That pre-order made my day.
I’ve probably clicked on the Amazon link about a hundred times. It’s so fun to see my baby there. I even cried a little when I saw that this wonderful bookstore in Chicago made one of my recipes from the galley and posted it on Instagram. I’m a bundle of emotions.
The flip side of all that joy is strange. Adrenaline hangover. I handed in the first draft of my second cookbook this week and I feel weird. Relieved but kind of sad. I think it was in Molly Wizenberg’s book Delancey where she wrote about the strange emptiness that comes with finishing a big, hard project. (Molly, writer of the wonderful blog Orangette, is also one of the Saveur blog award finalists. Good company, huh?) Melancholy. Or is it simply fear? Probably both. My sweet mom is going to worry when she reads this. Don’t worry, mom. I’m fine. Just thinking.
I know the work isn’t even close to being finished. There are billions of edits coming. Rewrites. Retests. And a photoshoot. But then what? Ay. That’s a big question. What’s the next big thing? The next big dream? The next project to pour my heart into? I know how fortunate I am. To even consider these questions is a luxury. I feel grateful. And a bit freaked out. Do you know what I mean?
Perhaps I should focus on cake for now. I made you a banana dessert a few weeks ago. I hope you’ll forgive the repetition. I’m making an honest effort to bake using the ingredients that are already in my cluttered kitchen and freezer. Last week I made a dent in the frozen rhubarb stash and this week I’m trying to whittle down the stack of frozen black bananas that never ends. It’s a tasty cake. I think you’ll like it. We like it. So much so that I haven’t even bothered to wrap it up. Gus and I have just been chipping away at it with spoons every time we walk by. Plates are too much energy and as you can see, mine is all over the place.
PS: The Saveur blog awards did give me one thought. There are some excellent blogs represented on that list of finalists. There are also so many terrific blogs that aren’t there. It's hard to get your name out there. In the same vein, I wonder if there are people out there who might like to write a cookbook but don’t know where to start. I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but if you’d like to know what I did, I’d be happy to share. At the very least, I can point you towards the resources I used to write my proposal* and find an agent. Pop me a message via the contact page if you’d like to chat.
Banana Hazelnut Bundt Cake
Serve 10 to 12
The idea to make a browned butter cream cheese glaze comes from this cake, which is one of the best cakes I have ever made or eaten in my entire life.
Oh, and keep the other 4 ounces of cream cheese wrapped tight. I’ll try to give you a recipe that uses it up next week!
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup hazelnut flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large, extra-ripe bananas (about 1 2/3 cup)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts (optional)
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoon milk, at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 12 cup bundt pan. (Mine is nonstick but I always butter it just in case.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, hazelnut flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, the dark brown sugar, the granulated sugar, the sour cream, and the bananas until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and fold to combine. Fold in the hazelnuts and the chocolate. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake it until a skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then flip the cake out onto a rack and let cool completely.
3. To prepare the glaze, melt the butter in a light-colored skillet over medium heat. Cook , swirling the pan often, until the milk solids have turned golden brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately transfer the butter to a medium bowl. Make sure to scrape out the lovely browned bits in the pan. Let the butter cool to room temperature.
4. Add the cream cheese to the butter and beat with en electric mixer until smooth. Then add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and beat again until smooth. Then beat in just enough milk to create a thick but drippy glaze. Drizzle the cake with the glaze to serve.