Cakewalk’s Public Debut

I’m about to run off to The Booksmith on Haight Street for my first reading from Cakewalk, which was published yesterday. But first I thought I’d give a glimpse of what I’m bringing with me, because the reading is also a party, and I’ve spent the day baking…what else is new.

On the menu tonight are Verboten German Chocolate Cupcakes, Pink and White Animal Cookies, Salted Caramel Cupcakes, and Absolutely Best Chocolate Chip Cookie dough, which I’m going to bake up in my Easy Bake Oven. I thought bringing an Easy Bake Oven to my readings was a stroke of genius: who doesn’t want to smell cookies baking while listening to someone read about baking cookies? Unfortunately the trial run with the EBO revealed that it smells more like burning plastic than carmelizing sugar and butter, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

Pink and White Animal Cookies

Everything ready to go to The Booksmith

The Salted Caramel Cupcakes are a Cakewalk Outtake, sort of: the frosting is in the book, utilized for the Brown Sugar Pound Cake recipe, but the yellow cake it goes with was cut from the manuscript when its chapter got the ax.

I love this yellow cake, an old southern recipe called “Hot Milk Cake.” It’s an unusual procedure: you heat the butter and milk together to boiling and pour it over the dry ingredients and eggs, stirring fast so the eggs don’t curdle. It smells like paradise when it’s in the oven, and the cake is spongy and light and delicious. It showed up for the first time in my life in Mothers Who Think, in an essay by contributor Maurine Shores on her childhood summers on the North Carolina coast, during which an eccentric “Cake Lady” supplied local vacationers with freshly baked cakes. Maurine’s family’s favorite was the Cake Lady’s Caramel Cake: the fragrant yellow Hot Milk Cake iced with a caramel frosting that is really a thoroughly addictive candy in disguise. Of course we ran the recipe along with the essay, and then my partner-in-crime, Camille Peri, and I became undeniably obsessed with the Caramel Cake.

In fact, everyone we knew became obsessed with the Caramel Cake. We made it to bring into the Salon office to share with our coworkers, and we made it for parties, and we made it into cupcakes for the kids’ school birthdays. It was the ubiquitous cake of the San Francisco internet heyday. Everyone who ate it wanted the recipe, and in those early days of the World Wide Web it was so smugly satisfying to be able to say, “just download it off our site.”

Just to be fancy for tonight’s reading I made the Caramel Cake cupcakes into Salted Caramel Cupcakes [LINK]: a pinch of Maldon salt flakes sprinkled over the swirl of frosting before it sets. Fleur de sel would work, too.

Caramel Cupcakes in formal dress, with Maldon salt

Category: Baking, Books, CAKEWALK, Motherhood, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 5 comments »

5 Responses to “Cakewalk’s Public Debut”

  1. Brenda M

    Almost finished reading Cakewalk–a delicious literary pleasure, thank you for writing! Are you coming on tour to Atlanta by chance???

  2. kate

    Brenda, thank you! I so appreciate your words. Right now I don’t have any plans to tour but if I do, I’ll let you know! all best,

  3. Rosemary C

    Just finished your book early this morning (2:30 a.m. I am of the age where I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes). I loved it!!! You made me think, laugh, sigh, and cry. You also made me very hungry. I downloaded your book onto my Kindle, but now must go get a hardbound copy, so I can get food stains all over the recipes. I am a Northern California girl, who grew up in San Francisco, (Star of the Sea grammar school and High School, San Francisco College for Women and San Francisco State for Graduate work in English Lit and Drama) so you spoke to my youth. Bravo for such a satisfying read! I so admire the life you have made for yourself.

  4. Marisol V.

    Just finished your book last night-one of the best food memoirs I’ve read in a while. At the beginning of my reading I told my hubby that it was refreshing to read about a happy childhood for a change. Your mother sounded like she was a lot of fun; I thought your dad, though gruff at times, was just too busy trying to earn a living for the family.
    I think we all grow up as we raise our children, making mistakes along the way, but doing the best we can for the situations as they happen. (Have you read Ruth Reichle’s Tender at the Bone?) But it is surprising what we choose to remember of our childhood.

    It’s amazing that you can recollect events from such a young age. Your narration made me feel like I was right there growing up with you. (But I’m much older.) I really enjoyed reading about your misadventures in Anchorage because I’ve visited Alaska yearly for the last four years (was in Anchorage last month) and was quite intrigued with the building of the pipeline. I often found myself reading your book till midnight-not many books do that for me.
    I loved reading the last chapters of your memoir for the wonderful insights you gave about your family and how you all turned out. I wished there were more.
    So, you can write AND you can bake. How wonderful! I look forward now to trying out some of your recipes. I think I’ll start with the German pancakes tomorrow morning. I usually give most of my foodie books away, but this one is a keeper!

  5. kate

    thanks so much Marisol! And hope the German pancakes turned out! all best,

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