Monday, March 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: Erica Bauermeister & Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I was raving about a beautiful book called THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS by Erica Bauermeister -- you can read my review here. I have been recommending it to everyone I meet because I think it is a book that all types of people will love.

I am just thrilled that Erica has taken time from her very busy schedule to write a guest post for Booking Mama. And this guest post is extra-special because it includes a recipe from a dessert in THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS. I think this book would make an excellent book club pick and you could even pair it with this cake for a most memorable meeting!

When I was writing The School of Essential Ingredients, my idea was to pair each character with a food that would help them - evoke a memory, spur a life change, heal a sorrow. Sometimes this match was obvious, easy, but for a long time I didn’t know what Carl’s food should be. I tried bread, omelettes, salt – nothing quite fit. And then I thought of cake, and I heard the click, the sound in your head that lets you know you have put just the right pieces together in a work of fiction.

The only problem was that at the time I could have easily won a prize as the worst cake baker in the world. In that regard, Helen and I were soul mates. I have a sister-in-law who makes extraordinary cakes – lofty, light, sculptural in their decoration – but mine were more like those scrawled cards a toddler gives you, full of love but cringe-worthy in production.

But Carl and Helen needed a cake – and a white one at that, when everyone in my family is a chocolate fanatic – so I had to figure it out. In the process I learned chemistry and patience and magic. And if I may say so, this cake is delicious. Even the chocolate lovers agreed.

I’m including the recipe below, but Lillian wants to make sure I say that you should mess with it. If you are in a book club, consider trying this for your next get-together....

Carl and Helen’s Cake
2 2/3 cups sifted cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 8" cake pans.

Separate eggs, set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter until soft. Add sugar; beat several minutes (until fluffy!). Add one egg yolk at a time, beating after.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Flour-milk-flour-milk-flour.

Beat egg whites. When peaks are soft, add sugar. Beat until peaks are stiff, but don't overbeat!
Add egg white mixture to flour mixture and pour into cake pans.
Cook 20-25 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

1 cup unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar (plus more if necessary)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Beat butter until soft. Add sugar gradually, along with vanilla and milk/whipping cream.

What flavor would you add to the frosting or filling if you weren’t making a white cake?

That's a hard question for me, but I'm going to go with peanut butter (if my son's not around.) No...wait! How about raspberry? Or, maybe almond like my wedding cake. I'm not a huge chocolate fan, so I love white cakes with different fillings.

Are you interested in receiving a copy of this wonderful book? Send Erica your ideas and she’ll choose one entry to receive a signed copy of THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS. Email your entry to Make sure you say you came from Booking Mama. Deadline to enter is Friday, March 28th. Good luck!


Beth F said...

Great guest post.

Bridget said...

I know you don't like chocolate, but I would recommend a chocolate filling (like a pudding, really)!

I've posted this on Win A Book. Don't enter me in the contest though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the contest! I copied the recipe and am already planning a fake occasion as an excuse to bake it!

Unknown said...

Being a chocoholic...I would add some dark chocolate to it.

April said...

What a great guest post, Erica! This sounds like such a delightful and wonderful book - I am biting at the bit to get my hands on a copy, lol!!! Great sounding recipe! Yum!! The more chocolate the better, I always say, lol!

S. Krishna said...

Reading that recipe made me hungry! Thanks for this great guest post.

bermudaonion said...

This is awesome! I loved this book too!

Anonymous said...

A giveway contest, a great recipe and a great guest post - does it get any better than this? Thank you, again!

Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful guest post and giveway. I emailed my entry and blogged about your giveaway here:

Anonymous said...

Please throw my name in the hat for this giveaway!
Thank you!

Kaye said...

Great looking recipe. I am e mailing my idea now. Thanks for the chance to win this beautiful book. Everyone that has reviewed it seems to have loved it.

Unknown said...

Oh yum..I was directed to your post after I reviewed the book and mentioned wanting that cake recipe. I can't wait to try it out! I'm adding almond extract to the icing when I make it. I love almond.

Martha Eskuchen said...

The thing that came to my mind to add would be peppermint flavor.?. Then again - I'm not the cook, my DH is!! The book sounds interesting! Thanks for a chance to win. mesreads[at] gmail[dot] com

Diana D said...

Please include me in the book giveaway. I tried to send an email was unsuccessful. Thanks for having the wonderful giveaway.

dianad8008 AT gmail DOT com

Real Estate Richard said...

OK, but after you beat the egg whites, what do you do with them? Fold them into the flour/milk mixture?

Julie P. said...


I checked with Ms. Bauermeister and you are correct! Just add the egg whites to the flour mixture and pour into cake pans!

Unknown said...

I made this cake last month and it was really good - family enjoyed it as well.