I had my first literary thrill when I was about nine years old. I don’t remember the author or the book (possibly Beezus and Ramona), but I do remember this: As I was reading the very last sentence, the author winked at me. She delivered her last clever line with a wink and a grin. And at that moment I knew that she hadn’t just written a story, she had written me a story. And I loved her.
Heartburn brought another memorable literary moment. Nora Ephron was in the middle of telling the story of her courtship, about how she got out of bed one night to whip up a little something for her hungry not-yet-husband, when…she busted out the recipe! I was awestruck. A recipe in the middle of a novel? Are you allowed to do that? It was pure, innovative genius. Never forgot it.
That’s fascinating, but what does it have to do with cake?
I have had a certain cake on my mind ever since The Imperfect Kitchen posted the recipe exactly four weeks ago.
I love The Imperfect Kitchen. It is a food blog but the author does not blog about food. Instead, she pairs her recipes with generous slices of her heart and soul – kind of like in Heartburn. Great recipes, great photos, and great stories. I find myself going back for more.
On September 7 she posted “Lover’s Ache / Hot Chocolate, Orange & Szechuan Pepper Cake”. The minute I read the title I knew I would be making it. But I had to wait. Wait. Wait until I had time to drive to the spice store for Szechuan pepper, wait until all the members of my family were going to be home for dinner. “Just save me some and I’ll have it later,” they would say. No, no, no, no, no! You have to eat it while it is fresh from the oven, while the lava is still molten and flowing.
Finally, last night, I had my peppercorns and my entire family home for dinner. After dining on a perfect pork tenderloin with roasted root vegetables, I made a threat: “No one leaves this house until we eat cake!” I did the dishes, made the batter and filled six darling flower shaped molds and a small heart-shaped springform pan. The batter smelled absolutely wonderful – all chocolatey and orangey and toasted sczechuan peppery. I clapped my hands – Jimmy Fallon style – as I put them into the oven. They were going to be good.
My plan was to delight you with an awesome photo of a perfect little molten flower cake, but in my eagerness to take the picture I popped them from their molds too soon. I had six premature eruptions and it was embarrassing. My husband tried to console me by assuring me that it happens to every baker at one time or another. There was nothing to do but scoop the slop into a couple of bowls, top it with ice cream and drizzle it with Raspberry/Grand Marnier sauce. It was disastrous and divine.
And my heart was still intact.
So I sprung it from its pan, dressed it up and took its picture:
It is not the awesome flower photo I had envisioned, but life rarely is.
If you want to see the cakes looking their flowery best, head on over to The Imperfect Kitchen and tell Susanne The Reluctant Baptist sent you.