As a person who loves to write recipes, Cake Magic! was a study in working with a master recipe and variations with some ratio work thrown in.
Here’s how it works: You make a big batch of mix comprised of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt during a quiet moment and then scoop out what you need per recipe. (There is a separate, carefully balanced gluten-free mix that begins the same way, totally from scratch.)
That very mix works as a foundation for every cake—over one hundred—in my book. But even though each one starts out the same and shares the same base ingredients, the recipes diverge in flavor and application in a way that’s left up to the person who’s baking.
I think of the finished cakes almost as cocktails, taking a few different components that can be remixed in many ways to produce very different results. The recipes that are attached to this post show a small sample of how to work in this cake universe.
First, pick a cake batter—vanilla or chocolate, though in the book there are also Citrus, Brown Sugar, Fruit and Veggie, Nutty, Coconut and Mocha cakes, too.
And then choose where you want it to go by picking a soaking syrup and a frosting. (In the book, these assembly instructions are at the bottom of the photos of each cake, telling you how to assemble it.)
Hostess Cake: Darkest Chocolate Cake + Coconut Syrup (follow Sweet Cream syrup, but sub full-fat coconut milk for cream and add 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut to hot syrup and steep it together) + Malted Vanilla Frosting
Hostess Cake (left) and Soda Fountain Cake (right)Photo by Ken Carlson
Soda Fountain Cake = Darkest Chocolate Cake + Cola Syrup (same as Vanilla Syrup, except sub non-diet cola for water) + Malted Vanilla Frosting
What's the most creative cake flavor combination you've tasted (or thought up)? Tell us in the comments!
Before her diagnosis, Caroline wrote a book on cakes called Cake Magic!. She started developing a birthday cake using her gluten-free mix found in that book. Check out other recipes she’s developing for her new life—and the stories behind them—on her blog, The Wright Recipes. Her next book, Catalan Food, written with chef Daniel Olivella, comes out in early September from Clarkson Potter.