If we can cook it, you can cook it!

Presenting "The Aunt Sassy", Pastachio Layer Cake from Baked Explorations

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It’s been too long since we shared a terrific baking recipe with you. For that I apologize. But after our Christmas baking binge, our house baker has been taking a long rest.  In truth, all our baking is done out at the Beach.  And for most of the winter, the Beach is off-limits to Andrew whose real estate business takes up most of his weekends.  Today, in anticipation of Easter and for all of you who crave the comfort on a great party cake, there’s this phenomenal confection from Brooklyn’s best bakers, the team at Baked, Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis.  And of course there’s a story attached to it.

Hard to find and unbelievably
expensive when we did…

         Building on the great success of his take on Kat McCleland’s Almond Cake, Andrew next wanted to take on pistachio nuts.  You can buy big bags of the things at Costco where they’re shelled for you and, like all things Costco, give you more pistachio nuts than one could ever imagine consuming.  He was intrigued by a pistachio cake recipe from a pastry Chef who has taken New York by storm.  He’d work with this chef’s recipes before to great success. Now this particular recipe called for one very specific ingredient: Pistachio Oil.  This was searched for high and low in our hyper-foodie neighborhood.  It was nowhere to be found locally. Finally it was located on line and sent for.  At enormous cost, the oil arrived.  The baking proceeded.  The results were not at all worth all the time, money and effort.  Sometimes chefs complicate things mightily. This particular chef, who shall remain nameless, had done just that.  But I couldn’t help thinking “would the cake have been declared a mistake had the pistachio oil been not so hard to find?”  I wonder.  But Andrew is not one to be derailed when he wants to bake something.  Especially not when he was confronted with all those leftover pistachios. 

         Fortunately, if you want recipes that are almost guaranteed to please, look no further than the two Bakers, Poliafito and Lewis, of Baked, the Brooklyn bakery that has a branch in Charleston SC.  These two generous souls have shared their baking expertise in their two cookbooks:  “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” (Stewart Tabori Chang 2008) and Baked Explorations (Stewart Tabori Chang 2010).    There’s not a bad recipe in the bunch and this one is off the charts.  Called the “Aunt Sassy”, its said to be a huge customer favorite and you will know why the minute you taste it.  The luscious honey-flavored buttercream icing tops a richly moist three layer extravaganza of nuts and cake.  It was a huge hit and made us all but forget the first cake Andrew baked.  And there was not so much as a drop of Pistachio Oil anywhere in the recipe. Here it is with our best wishes for a Happy Easter. 

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