December 2007 Holiday Baker's Recipe Stash
A Note From Marcy Cayman Island Rum Cake My rum cake (not the one in this picture) was inspired by the famed Tortuga Rum Cake. In the BB Test Kitchen, I used another rum but the golden, moist cake (think Sara Lee poundcake texture), soaked through in a butter-sugar-rum glaze is unbelievably good. Or, you can bake something else from this month's baker's stash and order an original Tortuga Rum Cake instead. It's all good. The December 2007 Baker’s Stash
For those of you who asked for a reminder, December lst is an official new Sign On time at BB for the Winter Quarterly Subscription to BetterBaking.com Recipes. If you want these recipes and all the rest of the recipes, see the To Subcribe page and follow the process.
Welcome to the holiday baking issue. There are some outstanding new creations to try but I remind you, as always, there are tons of tried and true holiday recipes in the archives. If you need a cheesecake, special biscotti, a lavish party cake, a scone, a shortbread, spritz cookie, or gift of baking idea, it's all there. In my new cookbook, A Passion for Baking, there is also a holiday chapter. If you wonder where the now famous Black Cake has gone to - it's in there - along with some other definitive holiday fare.
Recipes are all listed below the Note from Marcy.
Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends, We made it to the end of the year! Doesn’t it feel like a toboggan ride at times? Things just seem to speed up and get more compressed as the tail end of summer becomes fall which marches into winter which tumbles suddenly into the holiday season and a new year on the way? I feel increasingly breathless each week and each day as if time is a bobsled that funnels me down a chute. Despite meditating (reluctantly, poorly, but consistently), I feel like a dervish. My fall/winter has been a blur of radio interviews, baking demos, writing, recipe creating, dancing. Somehow, I found time to discover another best Indian lunch buffet with friends, hear Madeleine Albright speak, attend McGill Homecoming, chat on Martha Stewart radio, add swimming to my regime, and take in the odd jazz club to see my son perform with his quartet. (One day they’re toddlers in Osh Gosh, shrieking over lost Lego and the next, they’re in sleek, black dress shirts, with a neon purple silk tie, doing a jazz remix on My Favorite Things on tenor sax and actually doing patter with an audience)
I also did an interesting bakery consultation in Little Italy where I particpated in an impromtu mandelbrot/biscotti bake-off, auditioned to write blurbs for a new age website on bliss (yes, that’s me, the Bliss Meister), initiated another career in some personal coaching (need an hour with a human compass, on love, life or career?) and upped my dance quota. I am not just referring to tango but a generic dance spill over. I danced so often (and so publicly) that my local gym asked me to teach a dance class this coming January. This is a lovely and out of the blue turn of events. For years, my gym and I had an ongoing battle. I would sneak into their aerobic studio to do a ballet/jazz warm up. Invariably, they would find me, kick me out, patiently admonish me yet again and send me back to the treadmills with the other gals, watching Rachel Ray. But the other day, one of the gym coaches pulled me aside. Turns out they noticed I had dance fever and would I teach a dance class? It would be once a week – formatted to my own design (a little jazz, a little ballet, a tablespoon of modern, a quarter cup of Broadway and a lashing of tango). Can I do this? I don’t know. Will I? Probably. Why? Because it’s difficult and I can never say no to difficulty but more so, because I smile each time I think of it. So, I’ve been choosing music, buying Danskin again, and practising my own patter.
It struck me that we all do become we do and who we are. It’s not what we say, it’s the walk we walk. I didn’t ask to teach dance but I just kept on always dancing – until whatever it is that I wanted was so visible – it could not be denied. Which brings me to The Secret.
Have you seen it? The Secret DVD is better than the movie and both a bit over the top and weird when it’s not totally commercial. Be warned - you have to dig a fair bit to extract the nuggets that might appeal to you. It really is a case of take the parts that work and leave the rest. The Secret also brings up so much complex stuff with pat answers and it is admittedly, largely about material success versus world peace. But I would still rent or borrow or buy it – and if you can, add What the Bleep Do We Know? Both films (and many books) are about the notion of quantum physics or manifesting – or becoming what we think or being a magnet for things good and bad, courtesy of our thoughts, both good and bad. (Yes, where is the ‘stuff happens’ part?).
There is alot written on this – from the most banal, disputable and off-putting to the most articulate and thought-provoking, from authors awe-inspiring and those one step away from snake oil salesmen. But there is something in the air. There is also something in the water - just check out http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/entop.html to discover incredible evidence of the effect of good and bad vibes on waterways in the world and inside your own eco-system.
(This is a water crystal with the word Namaste attached to it. Just go to Emoto's site. It will all become clear.)
Even Larry King is talking about the new buzz word, manifesting (wealth, romance, career). Unfortunately, many people took it to mean, if you just think happy thoughts, or think of dollar bills, you would be both happy and rich. Of course, one has to have an action plan to go with those happy, wealthy thoughts – along with an intention – for intention without action is a planted field that doesn’t get rain or sun – so the seeds just sit there instead of taking root. Plus, if you think greater good or at least your intentions are congruent with ‘better values’ (world peace, family harmony, abundance for all) chances are you will also serve the lesser good (you the individual) or vice versa.
Somewhere between letting it all flow and/or chasing your destiny (my preferred anecdote to impatience), there is this place of resonance where things happen. I think it's important to let the powers that be, or fate, time, angels, fairies, or quantum physics do their work. Sure, we can plan, and we can script how we think things should evolve but I think if we just need participate and leave the creative problem solving to some other forces who simply want to play on our team for the fun of it. It allows the universe to do its magic.
It’s also amazing to me how many things come as a result of steady plodding versus comets falling out of the sky. But even comets are doing steady plodding (albeit at the speed of light or whatever). That beautiful burst of light stippling the sky is the sum total of all the plodding of any one comet through thousands of years of dedicated freefall.
I think this business of manifestation is fascinating. Much of it seems to be about tenacity. Tenacity seems to be the backbone of that thing they call intention (another buzz word). Intention is that trumpet call the universe hears and responds to with manifestation or that genie granting your wish.
Whether you believe in manifestation and magic, or science with proven quantum physics which – anything that uplifts you and makes you feel more positive, more imaginative, and more aware of possibility, is a good thing - at least in my book. Reminds me - ages ago, when I was in my twenties, struggling to find a career and/or meaningful work, my two older brothers chided me. They suggested I get ‘real’. They asked me (one was a lawyer; the other a producer with CBC), frustrated with my vagaries of writing and baking notions – what I really wanted to do as work. I told them that I wanted to stay at home and bake for the government. Of course, they rolled their eyes and held their sides laughing. What I really meant was – I wanted to work from home and bake without stress. In a way, that is exactly what I ended up doing. Who knew that at 20-something, with benefit of DVD’s like The Secret that I was already well on my way to 'manifesting' a magical life? As for my brothers – they are very adept in their kitchens in their own right but when they need a recipe or culinary help - who do you think they call?
With a new year just around the corner, I suggest that whatever is your heart’s desire, just start walking towards it. Don’t ask about how it will work out. Leave some tasks for the sous chefs of the spiritual underground. You just show up in life’s kitchen with your tools, your ingredients, and your energy. The recipe for magic will find its way to you. When it does, just stir gently and then season to taste.
On the occasion of this holiday season, I wishing you all laughter and love in the kitchen, at your tables with family, at the office party, the school’s last music concert of the year, the cookie exchanges, the Hanukah candle-lighting, the shopping, and the coffee with friends before the holidays change our days and schedules. Please bake something for someone who least expects it; please enjoy someone else's baking - just keep the good things flowing and manifesting....joy.
Warm wishes, happy holidays, happy baking, and a wonderful new year,
Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, ‘I’ve know the feeling; I know the place”. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.