If I do most of the baking, it’s not because he can’t — in fact yeast doughs are his baking bailiwick. He’s capable of puff pastry and profiteroles, cream puffs and cookies, gougeres and ganache. But I tend to the sweet side of the kitchen and leave him to bread, pizza dough and pannetone.
With one giant exception: anything upside down. (He’s the Tarte Tatin guy, for example.) I’ve never met a man as mad for upside down cakes as Lou is, was and ever shall be. It’s the only cake he makes on a regular basis, starting from about three days after we were married. When Honor’s day care, (the amazing Chase House on Chicago’s near west side) held a bake sale I think the other moms would have rioted and dumped him on the el tracks (Ashland stop) had he not produced his signature cake. It was the full-dress number: crushed pineapple, pineapple rings and marachino cherries. One mother admited that when she worked the sale, she’d hide the cake and buy it herself. “Girl, my kids tore it up!”
Now, I like PUDC, but presented with the dessert tray, I’d likely make a another choice. With Lou it’s different — he craves something from a skillet, that started with a layer of fruit on the bottom. I’ve discussed our resolution to eat dessert second, rather than skip in entirely, and he’s produced two upside down cakes in a week and a half. (We cut it in two, and present the other half to our neighbors, because we love them and because we have a one serving rule. We both have a bad feeling about having a whole cake in the house — it might be gone before bedtime.)
I’ve written here about the Joys of Jiffy, and it’s been on sale. One night Lou remembered a few plums rattling about in the produce drawer, pulled them out and opened two boxes of cornbread mix. He added some sugar to the batter, and made the topping — three tablespoons of butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Let it bubble, arrange plums in the sugar and pour the batter on. top. Bake.
Lou liked it so much that he pondered on Priscilla’s corncake recipe (one package Jiffy white cake mix, one package Jiffy cornbread mix) and returned from the store a couple of nights ago with his baking booty. It included a can of crushed pineapple.
He’s been sitting next to me as I type, and gosh darn if he hasn’t come up with another upside down idea — a fruit and yeast dough coffee cake. “You see, I’ll make one of those five minute bread doughs — the challah recipe. It’s soft and spreadable. Just a few apples …”
I’ll report, and I know it’ll be soon. He’s a man with a mission.