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About Updated Recipes

Starting in December 2012 I began reformulating the recipes at CakeLove. Each cake recipe went under the microscope for an evaluation of the ingredients and methods used. I’ve thought a lot about why I did this and what it means. Here’s what it means to me.

Baking is art and science. Both are disciplines that can improve with time as long as you’re open to change and willing to reflect on what is already out there. I started baking in 1999 because of a deep interest in the dynamics of baking ingredients and what they mean to one another when mixed up on the counter then baked off in the oven. How kinetic and thermal energy change the nature of X, Y, and Z ingredients drove me to leave practicing law and start a cake business. I’m still driven by that relentless pursuit for understanding the dynamics of the ingredients.

After 14 years of baking, eleven years of operating CakeLove, and four cookbooks, and feedback from across the spectrum, it was time to take a close look at the recipes, the base ingredients and the logic of the method. In my experience in the food business, recipes are updated all of the time.

To me, being an artist is about being open to learning more about the craft. When I began baking, I dabbled in lots of different styles– American butter cakes, shortening-based cakes, French gateaux, chiffon sponge—and I found the format and group of recipes that worked for me. Before CakeLove, my cakes were mostly expressions of genoise sponge, French buttercreams and custard-based mousse. They came straight from the pages my favorite authors and were ridiculously good. But they weren’t all right for an American audience. A cake business needs to listen to its market, so I adapted recipes to respond to what our customers were looking for.

Well, that’s the same course that I took starting last winter. It was informed by what I learned over the years, specifically with writing PieLove. Pie crusts are a big part of my next cookbook and I didn’t hold back on experimenting with unusual shortenings in the dough. Any source of fat is called “shortening” in baking, so I tried all kinds: cocoa butter, palm kernel oil, vegetable shortening, coconut oil, and of course butter. The texture that resulted from blending different fats was compelling and I extended it over to cakes. It’s that age-old debate of what makes a better crust: an all-butter crust or a shortening-and-butter blend?

What do I like? With regard to pies, both types work really well, but I prefer the taste and texture of an all-butter crust. For cakes, I find the texture achieved by working in blends just fascinating—and it seems it’s working well based on your feedback! I think that flavors and textures in the cake work out to be better with the right blend. We’re blending starches (wheat flours), fats (vegetable fats and butter), liquid dairy ingredients (milk and cream) every day. Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end when it comes to blending but, to me, baking is the never ending pursuit of balancing the dynamics of the ingredients. Based on your feedback on the improvements over the past 9 months, I think we’re onto something good.

Thanks for your support!

Warren Brown