Most Wanted Recipe
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of F&W’s Best New Chef awards, one of our biggest stars shares one of her most requested recipes.
Gale Gand was named a Best New Chef 1994 while at Trio in Evanston, Illinois. She is now a chef-in-residence at Elawa Farm in nearby Lake Forest, as well as a partner at Tru in Chicago.
Over the course of her memorable baking career, Gale Gand has fielded requests for hundreds of recipes. But the most persistent pleas are for her chocolate blackout cake. She made it for the first time in 1996, when a customer asked her to re-create the recipe from the iconic Brooklyn bakery Ebinger’s, which went out of business in the ’70s. But Gand had never tasted the cake, and the recipe was a secret. So she began researching descriptions. “This was pre-Google; it wasn’t easy,” she says. After multiple tests, Gand arrived at a version she was happy with—layers of tender chocolate cake stuffed with chocolaty filling. “Now, it’s almost an underground thing. Someone will call and say, ‘I hear you do a blackout cake,’ and I’ll say, ‘Who sent you?’” RECIPE: Chocolate Blackout Cake
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Baker Matt Lewis; © Chris Court
In our December issue, baker Matt Lewis, co-owner of Brooklyn’s amazing Baked, talks about his Bundt cake obsession, and why the dessert is an excellent fit for the holidays. Bundts are versatile, essentially self-decorating (they require little adornment other than a dusting of confectioners’ sugar) and much easier to transport than frosting-covered cakes. They are also incredibly forgiving, something we learned in the F&W Test Kitchen while trying to troubleshoot a cake recipe for a different story. When we attempted to bake a Bundt recipe using loaf pans, the results—while delicious—had sunken tops that were just too sad-looking to serve.
But why would the different shape affect the final result? For guidance, we turned to Shirley O. Corriher’s indispensible and brilliant baking reference, BakeWise. Corriher writes, “With cakes, many times an overleavened recipe is baked in a Bundt or tube pan.… It doesn’t matter if the top of the [cake] in a Bundt or tube pan is slightly sunken, you’re going to turn it upside down. No one will ever know!”
Of course: Cakes baked in Bundt pans are served bottom-up, with the decorative molding from the pan on display. In our case, the recipe in question had too much baking soda, causing the cake to rise too quickly in the hot oven and then deflate as the fast-rising bubbles popped. We corrected the leavening to produce lovely little loaf cakes, but we also gained some admiration for the humble Bundt: From now on it’s our go-to pan for any delicious-but-cosmetically-challenged cake recipes.
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Lil Rae Cakes; Courtesy of Jenny Rae.
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