Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cups and Cakes

I love pistachio.

Pistachio ice cream, pistachios themselves, and pistachio pudding. Perhaps pistachio pudding most of all. So this week, I decided to take my love of this dear, green, nutmeat a little further and make a pistachio pudding cake, with buttercream icing. Of course, I'm not really the best of bakers, and my luck with cakes in the past has been, at best, fickle. There was the ill-fated yellow cake, which never made it to the icing stage, instead exploding in a fiery mess in the bottom of my oven. (Lesson learned - do not overfill pans.) There were the delicate chocolate cathedral cupcakes, each shaped inside a lovely, heavy-duty muffin pan aquired at Williams-Sonoma. These never made it past the muffin pan, and had to be eaten in chunks with hands or spoon. (Lesson learned - they really mean that you should leave it in the pan to cool.) And last, but not least, the sad tragedy of the Valentine's Checkerboard cake, made with red velvet and strawberry cake mixes, which ended up separating from eachother during the baking process, in which one rose and one did not. (Lesson learned - the amount of food coloring you put into a cake has a direct effect on its baking time.) Add to this list countless burnt cookies, a pathetic flan, and a mushy pie, and you have gotten my entire baking history.

Enter pistachio cake.

I was absolutely determined to get this one right. My life from this moment forward depended on it - my reputation as a bad cook had to be broken. Especially because I actually can cook - almost anything - just fine. So I went about making this in the most careful, technical way possible. Much research was done. There was a careful selection of ingredients, an even more careful application of them. And when it emerged from the oven, ready to be properly iced and stacked and decorated, I had completed my first successful cake.

Aside from something lovely in the kitchen, I have a number of lovely things on and off the needles. Right now I'm working on a 2 x 2 ribbing scarf for Danny, out of the Roanoke Malabrigo Chunky I showed last post. It's knitting up quickly, and I'm hoping there might be enough leftover for me to make something for myself - I'm really in love with the nutty brown color! As for sweet things off the needles, there's an aptly-named Gretel sitting on my bedspread right this moment! I'm always amazed by how well this particular pattern shows off Malabrigo colorways - it's almost as if yarn and beret were made for eachother. I'd really like to make another, as this one is a little less slouchy than I would have preferred, but who would give up an excuse to knit something so beautiful again, anyway? I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough - Ysolda is a truly brilliant designer and her blog is charming. She recently took a trip to Montreal and the pictures and descriptions from the journey certainly make me want to go visit - though I'll wait until summer to do so. I'm not really a winter person, after all.

As for the cups in the title? What better imagery than the little cups the leaves of a hosta make to gather morning dew? I can imagine a little children's book with illustrations of mice and rabbits taking tea with these:

PS: If you know the song reference in the title, including the name of the *original band*, I will be mightily impressed.

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