A Harte Appetite

Every Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Tom Harte shares a few thoughts on food and shares recipes. 

A founder of “My Daddy’s Cheesecake,” a bakery/café in Cape Girardeau, a  food columnist for The Southeast Missourian, and a cookbook author, he also blends his passion for food with his passion for classical music in his daily program, The Caffe Concerto.

Local support for A Harte Appetite comes from Cyclewerx.

A Harte Appetite: Cakes

Sep 3, 2018
flickr user Tracey Wilhelmsen (https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceysculinaryadventures/5524758373/in/photolist-9qcQbH-oEQ8Wf-6EjAjZ-8UjeG2-8UjiTK-24TuNse-bkRf25-FSeddb-6SiE9i-9mDK5T-81EJbx-p3Hu5P-9UZkT3-7JG3V4-5tcLED-77xqMC-8KwoDZ-bq4ERb-7mi6fV-CRVcC-68u)

Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her book, “The Pie and Pastry Bible,” a volume which I’ve read religiously, says, “There are two kinds of people: cake people and pie people.”

All my life I’ve believed I’m in the second category. I even served once as a judge at the National Pie Championships sponsored by the American Pie Council, of which I was a charter member.

flickr user C R (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Ben Wenberg was a wealthy sea captain who sailed between Cuba and New York in the late 19th century engaged in the fruit trade.  A gastronome, when ashore he often dined at New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant.

One evening in 1876 he walked into the restaurant and announced that he had learned a new way to cook lobster.  Summoning a chafing dish to his table he proceeded to concoct an extravagant preparation of lobster chunks, cream, eggs, butter, sherry, and a little cayenne pepper.

flickr user m01229 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

I have a confession to make.  For years I have been making a chocolate cake that everybody raves over. Once I took it to a committee meeting and one of the committee members said it was absolutely the best chocolate cake he had ever tasted.  Another time I took it to a party and people actually fought over the last slice.

Without fail, whenever I serve it, somebody asks for the recipe.  Well, the cake does contain some flavorful ingredients—Kahlua, sour cream, and almost a pound of chocolate.  But, and here’s the confession, it begins with a mix.

flickr user albedo20 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

I have much for which to thank the nuns of the Catholic Church. After all, one of them taught me how to read.

But I’m almost equally grateful to Roman Catholic nuns for their role in inventing and perfecting some of the most heavenly pastries on earth.

Collectively called convent sweets because they originated in the convents of Italy, Spain, and particularly Portugal as far back as the 15th century, they ultimately made their way far beyond the Iberian peninsula.

What do award-winning cookbook author Rick Bayless, Food Network Iron Chef Bobby Flay, nationally acclaimed pastry chef Gale Gand, and Chloe, my  granddaughter, have in common?  They all began their culinary education by slaving over a hot light bulb.

Chloe, just like those three celebrity chefs when they were youngsters, has been the recipient of an Easy-Bake oven, which, famously, can produce cakes, cookies, pies, and other goodies using only the heat generated by an ordinary 100-watt incandescent bulb.

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