The best things in life are free.
Like donuts brought to your door freshly prepared in the kitchen of your Amish neighbors.
Imagine the best donut you have ever tasted, then imagine it tasting just a little bit better, and now you know what these donuts tasted like. They were AWESOME! As we say at work, they were slap your momma good.
This unexpected delivery of confections got me reinvigorated about the idea of holiday baking. I had a recipe that I’d been wanting to try for a buttermilk marscapone cream cake. The main reason I had not tried it yet is because it is very hard to find marscapone in my neck of the woods. I’m so used to being able to run up to Whole Foods or Central Market or even regular old HEB and pick up things like marscapone, or won-ton wrappers, or sushi grade ahi-tuna. But I did not have snow in my old neighborhood, or a magical bamboo forest, or neighbors who delivered homemade donuts, so I guess the trade-offs are worth it. As a substitute for the marscapone I chose whipped cream cheese. The flavor and texture are as close as I could get. You can find the recipe here.
Because we live in a dry county, and because I had a creepy experience at the liquor store in the next nearest county, I opted to not use sherry in the berry component of the dish. Instead I made a sugar, lemon juice, orange juice syrup with fresh lemon zest from some Meyer lemons we grew that complimented the berries and added the needed sweetness and zing to the cake.
The cake looked like this going into the oven:
And like this when it was finished:
If you are a keen observer then you will note that I baked a solid cake, and the final product came out with a whole in it, like a bunt cake. Now you are probably thinking, “Man, that farmerlady is so magical. She can turn a regular nine inch round cake into a holiday bunt cake.” Well, you too can be magical. Step 1: Have an unreliable oven. Step 2: Have unreliable toothpicks. Then when you cook your cake you’ll have a perfectly cooked outside with a gooey center that you presume is cooked because the toothpicks come out clean. Rather than toss the cake and call it a failure, I just cut out the uncooked center portion leaving the festive looking, cooked outer ring. Then I followed the rest of the recipe as written. While the final product might have some visual abnormalities, it ended up tasting great. In fact, it tasted so good that Geoff had three pieces yesterday, and he is not normally a big cake eater.
I feel pretty confident that the next time I make this cake it will have a middle. Cross your fingers.