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Cake Walk

Cake Walk

New York “Dry” Crustless Cheesecake

June 7, 2017

The checkout lady at the grocery store thought I was on a real fat bender. “What are you going to do with all of that?” she asked, eyeing my quarts of sour cream, cream cheese and whipping cream. “Recipe testing,” I say. She nods, with this little lift to her eyebrow, like, “Sure you are.” But it’s true. I’m testing with vats of cream because Lost Recipe Found readers lo-o-o-ve cheesecake. I’ve had requests for no-bake cheesecakes, cheesecakes made with farmers cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese, cheesecake with meringue crusts, rusk crusts, zwieback crust and no crust….the list is a long one. From that list, this cake is a winner. Reader Linda M. wrote us in search of a cake that would match her memories of going to New York for the 1965 World’s Fair where she fell in love with the “very thick, very dry, crustless cheesecake” baked in that region. We found this one of that ilk and era, credited to Mrs. Charles B. Goldman, of Auburn N.Y. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Persimmon Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

November 10, 2016

For anybody unfamiliar, persimmons are native to America, highly-nutritious and once prized by American Indians and early settlers. They also make a fabulous cake. Last year, to really experience these, I went on an October jaunt to persimmon-expert Jerry Lehman’s 85-acre orchard near Terre Haute in southwestern Vigo County, Indiana. Right out of the car, I learned that what looks really pretty still on the tree, may not be ready to eat: Pluck an unripe persimmon as I did and it will turn your mouth inside out with pucker As the writers of persimmonpudding.com put it: “Tannins in [unripe] persimmons make your tongue, cheeks, and gums feel as though you’re chewing on a cross between aspirin, alum, and chalk.” With a little tutelage from an amused Jerry, I learned that the fruits are best when they ripen on the tree and drop to the ground, to be carefully plucked up by harvesters making their way along the tree rows. (Labor-intensive, yes, but the fruit is truly luscious that way.)  Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

German Chocolate Cake (Marshall Field’s)

November 2, 2016

It’s tall. It’s magnificent. It’s the quintessential German Chocolate Cake: Four layers with classic coconut pecan filling. This cake’s tender crumb results from the combination of low-protein flour (cake flour) and a little acid (buttermilk.) And the filling is made from scratch with butter, evaporated milk, lots of egg yolks,  sugar and plenty of coconut and toasted pecans.  (None of the sweetened condensed milk shortcuts here!) While the recipe is for one, 4-layer cake, you can share the love (give one away?) by making this recipe into two, two-layer cakes. It is rich, so pace yourselves: one recipe of the filling includes 8 egg yolks, 2 cups butter and 3 cups coconut…. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Apple Cake (Gina’s Hubba Hubba Apple Cake)

October 19, 2016

Gina DePalma thinks her mom got the recipe for this gorgeous, not-too-sweet apple cake from a ’50s women’s magazine. When Gina was little, her mom made it Saturdays, for Sunday supper. These days, Gina makes it year round and affectionately calls it her Hubba Hubba Apple Cake. It’s basically a dump cake–just whisk and stir liquid ingredients into the dry ones, layer the batter with cinnamon-sugared apples, bake it off and there! You’ve got an impressively tall and tasty cake.  Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Melting Apple Cake

October 18, 2016

Baking recipes usually frown on softer apples, specifying instead that you use granny smith. That means you end up making loads of homemade applesauce out of the Jonathan and  McIntosh hanging around that didn’t get eaten…and too much applesauce is….too much applesauce.  Reader Rita Jessel wrote in telling us she knew she’d once seen a recipe from the ’40s that called for soft apples. Much testing later, I think I’ve created a version Rita will like:  My Melting Apple Cake makes mushier apples a thing of beauty–the soft apples partially “melt’ into the cake as it bakes. 

Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

October 12, 2016

From the time it opened in its first unit in 1898 until the last Ebinger’s Bakery turned out its lights in 1972, the Brooklyn bakery chain was known for this dark chocolate cake.  This recipe is answer to multiple requests for it and comes to us compliments of Chicago-based chef and baker, Gale Gand.  As Gale puts it, “Ebingers was renowned for the purity of its ingredients, the sparkling cleanliness of its stores, and the deep chocolatey-ness of this cake.”  Long after the last Ebinger’s finally closed Gand says devotees kept Blackout Cakes in their freezers. “I mean, for years!” she laughs.

Recreating the cake, Gand didn’t have access to one of these freezer fossils. Instead, she relied on the taste-memories of Ebinger’s fans who grew up in Brooklyn. Gand included this group as her taste-panel.  Says Gand, “They were a tough crowd, but they told us we finally got it right. The custard filling is finally the perfect deep, velvety, very, very, dark brown.” Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Cheesecake Like Little Jack’s

September 30, 2016

From the time it opened in 1905, until it closed in 1962, Little Jack’s restaurant was a force in the Chicago restaurant dining scene. At its peak in the ’50s, the sprawling three-dining room restaurant reportedly served between 600,000 and 1 million meals annually. Named for John H. “Little Jack” Levin (1887-1971), Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Very Airy No-Bake Cheesecake

September 8, 2016

Cheesecakes come in dozens of flavors and textures. Contrasting with the dense, baked cheesecakes many know, this vintage 1959 no-bake version is so light and airy, it about levitates above the plate. If you have cheesecake lovers in your crowd, definitely try this one. You can make it two days in advance–keep it well-covered in a domed cake-keeper in the fridge until service.

Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Dressel’s Chocolate Fudge Whipped Cream Cake

June 26, 2016

This beautiful cake is our family-birthday must. After I researched this story about it and developed the recipe, with input from the Dressel family, the Chicago Tribune ran a little feature on my work, and–I’m pleased to say, liked it as much as we do : ) 

Here’s the original story…

There’s no clue that the breezy, grass-covered, empty lot at 66th and Ashland was once the master plant of Chicago’s most famous bakery, or, that the red brick storefront at 33rd and Wallace was its first location.  Although gone without a trace, Dressel’s Bakery was for 60-plus years the maker of Chicago’s beloved Chocolate Fudge Whipped Cream Cake. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Strawberries in a Cloud (Blitz Torte)

June 22, 2016

I am a strawberry girl. I eat strawberries out of hand, make pies & jams with them, macerate them, even grill and pepper them. So imagine my delight at finding myself  kneedeep in Pete Ambrose’s organic strawberry patch on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. Continue Reading…