I’m grateful I was asked to bake a cake this week. For this first time in forever, my daughter does not live in the same town I do and her birthday is this coming Sunday, September 14th. September is actually the No 1 birthday month and the single most popular date for birthdays all year is September 16th which is when Bahlsen Waffeletten, a European cookie company, celebrates their 125th year. Lauren and I just missed it by two days so I think it’s fair that I co-celebrate with Bahlsen Waffeletten and make this cake also in honor of daughter Lauren. If you know what a year she had, there is huge cause for celebration!
Bahlsen Waffeletten decided to have a birthday cake recipe contest, “Let the Good Times Roll,’ and I was invited to participate along with 15 other bloggers. The winner will be announced September 16th although I think we’re already winners as each blogger was sent a beautiful Tiffany cake plate just for participating. Still, winning would mean a 3-day workshop of our choice at one of the legendary Le Cordon Bleu’s “Bleu Ribbon Kitchen” US locations and I know I could use a break from routine and what a fun break that would be!
Why “Let the Good Times Roll?” Because Waffeletten cookies are multiple layers of thin, crunchy wafers rolled into a cylinder and then dipped into either Milk or Dark European chocolate. We were each sent a package of the Dark and Milk Chocolate dipped cookies and encouraged to keep it easy, be creative and use the cookies in any way we wanted. Inside, outside or upside down…that was all left to us! The one thing that had me mulling a bit too much? Make it easy. What? That would be, well, too easy! I thought about it and had lots of ideas but all of them required cutting layers or using a piping tip or making meringues and while none were difficult techniques the truth is they were not going to be easy if time was an issue.
So I took OFF the thinking cap and started to deconstruct. Forget about piping, think about a drizzle. Forget about cutting layers; how about one single layer? And that was the exercise I needed. Really what is easier or prettier than a single layer Bundt cake? I started to hunt for my Bundt…and found four! I forgot I had four so that was fun and my idea started to feel even more perfect when I remember that the word Bundt has German leanings even if made by an American manufacturer. Credited with creating the Bundt pan in 1950; H. David Dahlquist, the founder of Minneapolis-based Nordic Ware, said he did so at the request of Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield, members of the Minneapolis chapter of Hadassah, a Jewish women’s service organization. According to an article in the Fall 2005 issue of Generations, the newsletter of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, Fannie remembers a Hadassah luncheon when Rose lamented the quality of light and fluffy American-style cakes, and longed for the rich, dense cakes of her European childhood. These, however, required a special type of of pan—one with a hole in the center that allowed heat to penetrate heavy cake batter from all sides. With this type of form, a heavier batter could be baked without leaving under-baked dough in the center. Sounded perfect for my Espresso Cake with Espresso Chocolate Caramel!
However there is a citation for the ‘bundt form’ as early as the 1903 edition of the famous Milwaukee Settlement Cookbook, 6 decades prior to Dahlquist filing for a trademark. The Settlement Cookbook, first published in 1901 in Milwaukee to raise funds for the Settlement House for immigrants, is considered to be the most successful fund-raising cookbook in American history. It is still in print; the 1976 edition was named to the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame. The bottom line for me was I thought it perfect to use these cookies made in Germany with a cake known to have a history stemming from the German Kugelhopf pan in this photo. My pan was not quite the same but it was similar enough; add to everything else that I’m part German and the deed was done…or at least the pan was decided on!
The cake was almost easier. Because the cake was going to have the cookies as part of the ingredients I decided to flip flop a mocha idea and instead of a chocolate cake with some coffee components I decided to make an espresso cake with chocolate components. With a form as decorative as this one I couldn’t actually see using the whole cookies for decoration so I decided to implement them in some way and as it turns out, two ways.
Half are crushed and added to some brown sugar and coffee liqueur and dropped into the cake batter; you can see that tunnel in the cake above. Just a nice little surprise bite. The rest? Easy as pie (part of our requirements remember?). I made the most amazing espresso and coffee liqueur caramel sauce and after drizzling it over the cake I just covered it with the other half of the crumbs.
A bit of crunch and some bites of chocolate combined with that sauce and a real coffee flavored cake and the results were divine. And easy. And pretty. Which equals almost perfect in my book. What made it a true win-win? I have SO many willing tasters as neighbors; asking for another slice to take home is always a surefire key that something was successful.
The judging for the contest is comprised of four parts all worth 25% of the total. They are:
- Easy-to-make Creativity
- Incorporation of Product
Now if the judges could just be three little boys I know I would be the winner but barring that; I still am. I love the cake plate and I love the boys who came down to help me eat some slices. I’m off to deliver some more to my neighbor Sam and his family; it’s nice to have these young strapping men near me; they can still eat these calories with abandon and I get joy from sharing with them. And well, OK, maybe a slice or two is squirreled away for me…and Lauren (I’ll keep a slice in the freezer for you honey for when you come home!). SOON please?
I was provided with a Tiffany cake plate for the purpose of this post and given samples of Bahlsen Waffeletten cookies
for use in this recipe but was otherwise not compensated.
All commentary is my own.