I love cake, and not just a vanilla cake with chocolate icing or a chocolate cake with fudge icing, all kinds of cake. The majority of North Americans have no idea what is out there! Beyond our coasts, all the way across the pond in Europe. The art of the Viennese treat is still alive and well in Europe. There are so many days I wish to sneak away from my desk at work, order a double espresso and a nice opera cake. But alas, what do we have to choose from, cupcakes with shortening icing (no butter), biscotti full of preservatives wrapped in noisy plastic, cookies with no butter and poor quality chocolate....sigh.
So what do the Europeans know that we don't? Surely they can't make much money using real butter, fresh ingredients, employing pastry chefs with knowledge and skills. In fact, a pastry with your espresso in the afternoon will run you the cost of lunch at McDonald's here at home. Or you can get a nice coffee or Latte with a cute little French Macaron or two (about half the cost of a McDonald's lunch). The thing is, you aren't eating that little pastry or drinking that espresso because you are hungry. You need a break, need to slow down, do some people watching. So maybe that little cuppa Joe and pastry will take you 30 to 45 minutes to enjoy. Bet you your 1/4 pounder and fries are scarfed down in 10 minutes...
European style pastries are my favourite. The Jaconde, Japonaise, Opera Cake, Bombe, torte, tarte, macaron, Berlin Air cake, Tiramisu, Biscotti, Gianduja, terrines, verrines, etc., etc. The Jaconde is a vanilla sponge made with nuts, pistachio, walnut, hazelnut etc, the Japonaise, a meringue made with nuts, a Bombe is a heap of mousse, the Berlin Air cake is a light sponge with layers of cream and fresh fruit and it goes on. We miss out on so much here in North America with the typical birthday cake, the humdrum wedding cake flavours the McCain cakes of the world.
I hope you can all think about what kind of cake you want next time you go looking to buy one. Think outside the big box store, look in your neighbourhood for a little mom and pop bakery (or call me...hehe). So instead of a recipe today - here are bunch of pictures to drool over and think of me when you need a cake for a special occasion and I promise they aren't the same price as gold they are affordable little goodies! Part 2 - there will be a recipe so you don't have to call me!
White Chocolate Cherry Cake
White Chocolate Chestnut Mousse Cake
Almond, Chocolate Caramel Dobro
Peanut Butter Chocolate Tarte
Pistachio 6 Layer Cake