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Cookbook Club: The Cake Book
From big, beautiful Bundts to cakes with flair...let's celebrate The Cake Book's release day with Rebecca herself!
The Cookie Queen is back - jazz hands and all! This time, Rebecca Firth has taken my favorite subject, cake, and has whipped up a ton of mouth-watering and awe-worthy creations for all occasions.
Also known as the Displaced Housewife, Rebecca has a way with combining flavors and approachable recipes. A city girl living in a rural-ish part of California (Santa Ynez Valley), pizza lover, world-traveler, and mother of two, Becky is the best friend with cake and cookies you wish you could hang out with every weekend. Her wit bounces off each page of her meringue-topped, brown butter-spiked, and vanilla-infused recipes.
The Cake Book has something for everyone and every occasion. Try her Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cake or Dark Chocolate Cajeta Cheesecake from the “Single & Fabulous” chapter or go big with her Fresh Raspberry Brownie Baked Alaska from the “Mega Jazz Hands” chapter. With Christmas just around the corner, her Wintery Pavlova with Port Cranberries and Spiced Eggnog Cake are extra tempting.
Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Rebecca Firth: I loved the idea of writing a book with the types of cakes that I bake for family and friends...nothing too fancy. I wanted to play on delicious flavor combinations, simple decorating...I think as a single parent, I gravitate towards what's yummy and pretty, but not too complicated.
TH: Which recipe should readers try first? Or which has become a stand-out recipe with readers so far?
RF: I really love the New Year's Day Cake that's on the cover...it's quick, delicious and satisfies all of your chocolate cravings!!! My other suggestion would be the Glazed Tangerine Donut Cake...the perfect breakfast cake (I love breakfast cake!). Maybe the Chocolate Horchata Meringue Cake...that's one of the first cakes I created for the book (it's one of the more intensive cakes, but worth the extra time).
TH: Can you name a must-have ingredient or signature flavor that you use in your recipes often? Or do you think there is special quality about your recipes or writing that readers can identify as being uniquely yours?
RF: I want my recipes to be accessible to novice bakers but interesting enough for people that are more advanced in the kitchen. I love playing around with brown butter, muscovado and marshmallow buttercream - probably my three favorite things.
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
RF: Playing with flavors (and flavor combinations) and definitely the seasons. I love baking with what's fresh right now.
TH: What were you listening to or reading at the time of writing this book?
RF: I love this question! I always bake with music...it makes the work day so fun. I wrote the book during 2020 and we were in a big classic rock phase...lots of Led Zeppelin, Neil Young...when I'm tired and looking for energy I love Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. It was a stressful year, so I was very into reading and watching anything funny or light. When I wasn't baking I was reading every beachy, rom-com-y novel I could find!
TH: Walk into a reader’s home and where can you find your book? Displayed on a coffee table, next to the bed for late-night studying, or splattered with batter in the kitchen?
RF: I like to think it's in the kitchen with drips and stains on it from heaps of use! I want the cakes that people bake from The Cake Book to be surrounded by memories of long dinners with friends, birthday celebrations...because that's what cake is, a celebration both big and small.
TH: What are some important keys to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
RF: 1. Read the recipe all the way through and 2. Make sure your ingredients are measured properly. The Cake Book has both grams + cup measurements in it...but you'll never go wrong with weighing your ingredients!
Thank you Tessa! You are the queen of cake - it's an honor to chat cake with you!! xoxo
Super-Simple New Year’s Day Chocolate Cake
As the title says, this cake recipe is simple enough to throw together after a night of celebrating. What it doesn’t mention is just how decadent and delicious it is! The olive oil keeps the cake extremely moist and the frosting is lick-off-the-spoon good. It is perfect for New Year’s Day, but I know I’ll be making it again and again all year long. - Tessa Huff
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (168 g) good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
½ cup (43 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (135 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (112 g) hot water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, olive oil, egg, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until blended. Sprinkle in the flour and gently fold together until just combined. Pour in the hot water and whisk until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the bottom of the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 35 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing it from its pan. Allow to completely cool before frosting.
Salted Chocolate Buttercream
1 cup (170 g ) dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (30 g) heavy cream
2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, diced at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
In a large, heat-safe bowl, add the chocolate, butter, and cream. Set it over a medium saucepan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Stir the mixture frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt until combined. The mixture will be rather thick. Add in the melted chocolate mixture and stir until smooth and glossy.
Generously spread the frosting over the top of the cooled cake, making swoops and swirls with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Add a heavy shower of sprinkles and enjoy!