Wednesday, September 23, 2009


While vacationing in Florida this summer, we celebrated a couple of birthdays. Those of you familiar with my blog may recall that our family has a special cake for celebrations - the HUNGARIAN RUM CAKE. In all our years of making this cake, I believe this might be the first time we've photographed it's progression... Here it is all put together in the spring form pan:

At this stage most of the work is done - the three cakes have been made and torn apart so that we can layer them with jam, chocolate custard, and simple syrup with Meyer's dark rum in it (dyed red and green of course - like the Hungarian flag!). After it's put together, we drizzle rum (Meyer's dark rum again) over it and put a flat surface on top and then weigh it down - usually with jugs of water, though my friend Tim recently made this cake and he used a rather large rock from the garden as a weight.

Now comes at least a week of drizzling at least once daily with rum and re-applying weight. The result is this:

The spring form pan has been removed and it has been inverted onto the cake plate. You can clearly see the layers and how much the cake has compacted. You can also see my mom, and our dear friend and fine cook, Louis Gualtieri, in the background. What you can't see is that Louis doesn't have his pants on!!!

Next comes the crumb coat. Normally I skip this step and make a simple powdered sugar glaze, but since my brother Jay, the pastry chef, is in town, he's doing the icing and he always does it right - because he's a damn professional!

Which is why he travels with his pastry bag and tips.

Of course, the chocolate that Mom has in the pantry isn't good enough for him to use to write the Happy B-Day message, so we are off in search of yards that have more blooms than ours - but first, we must take a break to make margaritas...

and play with our new toys...

OK - cousins are now trolling the neighborhood, looking for flowers to pilfer...

Et viola - the finished cake:

And the celebration:

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


One of my favorite things in a day is when I come upon the unexpected. Like these grapes.

I was racing around doing the last minute things I needed to do before I left on my 3 week vacation. One very important thing was to pick up perscription refills, so I was at the 45th Street Clinic in Wallingford doing just that. I found these grapes in their parking lot, hanging over a storage shed. It looked like they were growing from an adjacent backyard and had spread, unchecked.

The day was hot, but somehow, standing near these grapes the air felt lighter and cooler and I was compelled to slow down and find my camera and capture the unexpected.