March 24, 2009

Cake Olympics

There's a great lemon cake recipe in the Silver Palate Cookbook. I've probably made it over 150 times and always in the pan shaped like a cathedral.

At least that's what we think it looks like. The recipe calls for "preparing the pan." That doesn't sound like much, but with all its nooks and crannies it can take up to ten minutes greasing it with a brush, then banging the flour into the crevices with a satisfying thunk on the palm of the hand.

For the trick is not in the cake, necessarily, for it would be good in any tube-type pan with its combination of buttery lemon goodness. No, the trick is 10 minutes after the cake has been cooling on the rack and It's Time To Take It Out Of the Pan. We could rate this process like the ice skating judges do--okay, maybe not those people--how about like the old-fashioned gymnastics scoring, back when we understood what a 10 was.

When I tried a shortcut of just using spray shortening, that time we ate the cake in pieces. (score: 6) When I stepped up a level and used spray shortening-and-flour, we ate it in chunks, a cathedral peak at a time. (score: 7) Sometimes the side would remain in the pan, or else the top, stuck in the pan's ceiling as if adhered by denture fixative. When I would lift it off the inverted cake, all of a sudden it would fall like a sack of hammers onto the bottom section, disintegrating (think those implosions of old Vegas hotels). Smaller chunks, accompanied by crumbs. (4) We ate it anyway.

So, for my husband's birthday on Monday, I held my breath as I lifted the heavy cathedral pan off of the inverted cake.

A career best: 10s all around.

Happy Birthday!


  1. That is an amazing cake! What a wonderful tradition.

  2. Am I impressed! Definitely a 10 for the final display, but another 10 for even attempting it.
    Your husband looks pleased.

  3. I always have trouble cleaning my Bundt pans! The cake looks beautiful and delicious!

  4. YUM! I was going to say "Try the spray stuff!" but obviously you have. I feel this worry every time I make angel food cake.