GREAT participation in the Free Choice week!
I have to give top billing to Jim, who, true to his word, baked me a Golden Lemon Almond Cake for my birthday. I baked one for Father's Day almost a year ago, and messed it up royally. Jim showed what you can do if you're a dedicated non-baker, but read the recipe. Rose says this cake is her favorite of all the cakes in the book, and both Raymond ("sublime") and Nancy B ("lovely cake") also made this one for their free choice.
The Baby Lemon Cheesecakes also had three takers. Monica is not herself a big fan of cheesecake, but Tom is, and he was kind of insistent (in a nice way) that she break up her lazy four-day weekend with these babies. He rewarded her with high praise: "Oh, sweet Lord!" (or words to that effect). Svetlana ("nice and yummy") thought these were great to serve to guests. Nicola also tried (for the second time) what she calls "baby lemon disasters," but she admits that at least six of her petite cheesecakes--the ones that escaped "the flood"--were perfect. Nicola, in a serious catching-up mood, also baked the chocolate ingots with toasted cocoa nibs (nothing at all, she assures us, like orchid bark).
Faithy and Jenn both did the red velvet cake. Faithy was inspired by the wedding cake that Rose baked for my daughter's wedding, and she duplicated the beautiful effect of the brilliant red cake, the white frosting, and the chocolate lacquer. Jenn managed to get a gorgeous red from beets instead of from dye--beets that she squeezed the heck out of. Kudos to Jenn for her beautiful piped roses atop the cake.
There were no more duplications, as everyone else just went where their hearts took them. Jennifer baked herself a great big Saint-Honore trifle for her birthday. She didn't top it with spun sugar, but with a sweet little kitten candle holder mailed to her from Bath from her dear blogging friend Melinda. Jennifer thought the only down side of the trifle was that it got a little mushy after 48 hours--on the other hand, she said, why keep it for 48 hours?
Mendy went all the way back to last October to make not one but TWO apple-cinnamon crumb coffee cakes. ("Verdict: Mmmm. Sooo good and not that hard to make").
Gartblue, on the other hand, went back just a few weeks to pick up the Gateau Breton, which she missed the first time round. ("It sure tasted wonderful. Buttery and cakey but yet crunchy.")
Katya, who had just picked up the daisy pan at a tag sale for a song, had to--naturally--bake the "She Loves Me" daisy cake; decorated with real daisies right out of the garden. So pretty.
Vicki made the German Chocolate cake against her better judgment, since she has never liked German Chocolate cake ("Every single year my brother would request a German Chocolate cake for his birthday. Every single year I hoped he would choose something different.") But she liked this cake, which actually tastes like chocolate, and has taken to eating the frosting for breakfast. Healthy, right? Like granola? She calls it "In Denial."
Lois chose another classic: the Classic Carrot Cake, which she topped with a lovely--and unexpected--shard of pepita brittle. Lois was frantically looking for her copy of Rose's Heavenly Cakes, which she'd misplaced. (Believe me, I understand perfectly how you can misplace a book.)
Kristina sampled one of my personal favorites, the No-Bake Whipped Cream Cheesecake, which she says has "supplanted the Cordon Rose cheesecake from The Cake Bible as [her] favorite."
Three people also baked ahead. I must not have been clear enough in my instructions--the idea for free choice week is to give you a chance to catch up and try a cake that you've missed, or one that I baked before we started the group. But Joan (The Bostini), Candi (White velvet cake with milk chocolate ganache), and Lynnette (Swedish pear and almond cake). But no harm done, and you can all get a sneak preview of three different cakes that we'll get around to eventually.
None of those three cakes is on next month's list, but you can look forward to baking (relatively) simple cupcakes next week. No special ingredients, no special equipment needed. Is this the first time we've all baked cupcakes together? I think maybe it is--we've baked plenty of baby cakes, but I don't remember baking cupcakes. You can correct me if I'm wrong. Will there be some contrarian baker in the bunch who decides to bake cupcakes as a layer cake? We'll see.
The week after that is the chocolate-covered strawberry cake. The frosting for this cake is described as very sticky and difficult to work with. This description does not bode well for the frosting impaired.