So, full disclosure here: I am not technically a pie person. Or a bread-baking person, for that matter. I have always been very much a cake person. (I happen to believe there are two camps: the pie/bread camp and the cake camp.) However, my allegiance began to shift last summer (just a bit) and I found myself not only craving pie, but baking it, as well. I suspect the shift away from cake and towards pie may have had something to do with the copious amounts of icebox cakes I was developing — and eating — last summer for the Icebox Cakes cookbook. But who knows?
I first learned about the “World’s Best Cake” from Bakers Royale (although the original recipe is Sweet Paul’s) and thought it sounded completely amazing: fluffy cake, with a baked, slightly chewy, yet crispy, marshmallow-y meringue, layered with creamy whipped cream. So very “world’s-best” sounding to me, in fact, that I knew then and there that I wanted to develop my own variation with a coconut twist (in my world, a cake with meringue and cream demands coconut). A little bit of internet research revealed almost no recipes for cakes with baked meringue (save for this meringue cake from Joy of Baking) and only a handful for “world’s best” cakes other than Sweet Paul’s (such as this Midsummer Cake).
My absolute favorite flavor of ice cream when I was a kid was mint chocolate chip. But not any mint chocolate chip ice cream, I loved mint chocolate chip ice cream fro Baskin Robbins. I loved everything about it — the green color, the creaminess, the mint/chocolate flavor combo — but what I really loved the most, was the size of the chips. This was not a mint ice cream with chunks of chocolate throughout, or actual chips. Instead, Baskin Robbins’ flavor included tiny, shaved, or grated, bits of chocolate, that contributed to the most perfect balance of chocolate to mint, as well as adding just a hint of texture to this otherwise super creamy treat.
So, the whole buttermilk bar doughnuts thing started when I was having dinner with friends and they mentioned a doughnut they had eaten in Los Angeles. A mere mention, and I was instantly smitten. And not with the doughnut’s purported attributes (which I insisted they share with me), but with the name of the doughnut: BUTTERMILK BAR. Brilliant. Who doesn’t want to eat buttermilk bar doughnuts??
The truth is I am not a huge flourless chocolate cake person, but I like fast; I like chocolate; and I like short ingredient lists. And so when I first stumbled upon the recipe that inspired mine, Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts and Minds Cake, and began tinkering with it, it didn’t even occur to me to make it flourless (even though her recipe calls for a measly one tablespoon of flour). Instead I made it passover appropriate, substituting 1 1/2 tsp of potato starch, for the flour, reworked the technique (more on that below), and called it a day.
It goes without saying that not everyone is on board with confectioners’ sugar-based buttercream frosting, as many find them just too sweet, a little low-brow, and a bit heavy. In addition, a version of the buttercream frosting recipe is found on the box of Domino confectioners’ sugar, and maybe that turns people off. Who knows? The long and short of it is, however, that I am not one of those people. I actually love traditional/old school powdered sugar-based frosting (which probably comes as no surprise in light of my admission in my post about chocolate birthday cake that I love the flavor, texture, etc. of a cake made from a mix) and am always looking for ways to perfect my own version of the classic.