Our Verdict: Simple Cake

Maureen: What’s not to love about cake? So it was a yummy month. My only criticism of the book is there really isn’t many recipes, and there’s nothing that’s really elaborate.

Kirstin: But that’s what I liked about it! You make cake all the time, so maybe you don’t need this book. I do. I liked that it was a simple book.  I wasn’t overwhelmed. I knew I could mix and match.

Maureen: This is def a book for beginners. But to her credit, she does simplify the process. I know I can get a cake made and baked in under an hour, but maybe a lot of people don’t know that. Once you read this book, you realise it doesn’t have to be a big deal to make it.

Kirstin: Yes! That’s just the point. For me, making a cake is huge deal. This cookbook showed me that it doesn’t have to be.

Maureen: I just wish she had slightly more elaborate or challenging recipes for people who do like to bake.

Kirstin: When I make a cake, it’s a big deal. People are impressed that I’ve done it.

Maureen: That’s definitely not true here. We’ve always got cake around, it seems. In fact, there seems to be excess cake in the house here all the time. It’s a good problem to have.

Kirstin: Indeed.

“Simple Cake”
Overall Grade (A- F):   A (Kirstin) B (Maureen)                                                                                 Best recipes: Maureen: Chocolate Olive Oil Cake Kirstin: Lemon cake.
Grade for Photography (A-F): A.                                                                                                    Any disasters? No! No disasters.                                                                                                Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf.  Maureen: Low-rotation bookshelf.

Our Verdict: Simple Cake

“Oh, Canada! Lemon Berry Crumble Cake” from “Simple Cake”

Yum. Berries, lemon and crumble: it’s a classic combination, and classic for a reason.

This was yet another cake that I brought to a meeting, and it was yet another cake that proved to be very popular. (People always seem very happy to see me. I think all the cake might be the reason for that.)

This was a very straightforward cake. It was another one that I baked in the morning and brought to the meeting a few hours later.

My only complaint, and Tim agreed, was that there wasn’t enough crumble on the top. This might have more to do with the fact that we both grew up on the East Coast, where crumble cake is taken very, very seriously, and East Coast crumble is at least 2 centimetres deep on top of a cake. This crumble didn’t really cover the top of all the cake. So while it was adequate, it wasn’t exactly generous. So when I make this again– and there will be a next time– I’ll probably double the crumble to put on the top.

Other than that, another winning cake to make the most popular person at our meeting.

“Oh, Canada! Lemon Berry Crumble Cake” from “Simple Cake”

“Chocolatey Chocolate Cake” from “Simple Cake”

Kirstin: I asked our daughter to choose a cake from this book. This is the one they chose. To be more specific, they asked for the Bribery Edition of this cake, complete with fancy icing. The cake itself was fairly straightforward. The icing was a different thing altogether. I may have mentioned this before, but I am not a cake baker. So the idea of whisking icing ingredients over heat, complete with cream of tartar was more than a little intimidating. I am also not convinced that it worked as it should have. BUT…

…I do know that not a single crumb was left. It was completely devoured by some grown ups and three very hungry teens.

And that says it all about this book. Yummy cake goodness!

“Chocolatey Chocolate Cake” from “Simple Cake”

“Chocolate-Orange Olive Oil Cake” from “Simple Cake”

Want to know the easiest way to be the most popular person at your next meeting? Bring cake.

When I brought this chocolate-orange olive oil cake to my last meeting, it was met with pure glee. This is a nice addition to any meeting that has the potential to be stressful, long or both.

Now I say I brought chocolate-orange olive oil cake, but in the spirit of full disclosure, it didn’t have any orange zest in it because I accidentally left the orange at the self-serve till and by the time I discovered the mistake (I was finishing up preparing the batter), I didn’t have enough time to run back and rescue it. So chocolate olive oil cake it is. EXCEPT, again in the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t use all the olive oil called for in the recipe either. I don’t know if it’s because this is an American book and perhaps the olive oil over there isn’t as peppery as the ones we get over here, but I made the mistake of using all olive oil in another cake once and the peppery aftertaste was so overwhelming that it ruined the cake. I try not to make the same mistake twice, so for this recipe, I used half olive oil and half sunflower oil. It worked a treat.

So yes, this was a great success, despite the fact that it didn’t have the requisite orange or olive oil in it. But one of the philosophies of the book is to try to mix it up and be creative when making cakes, which I certainly did here, so I think it works just the same.

“Chocolate-Orange Olive Oil Cake” from “Simple Cake”

“Tangy Olive Oil Cake” from “Simple Cake”

Kirstin: So this cake was made before my new microwave oven had arrived; it was literally delivered a few hours later. So it had to be babysat in my cake killer of an oven, which Helen was very good at helping me with. The thing about these cakes is that they really are very simple and easy to make. I chatted away with Helen while baking this with ease.

And the cake was a huge hit. My only problem was that the recipe is for two cakes. When we only needed one. But hey ho. The more cake, the better! Definitely first world problems.

“Tangy Olive Oil Cake” from “Simple Cake”

“Lovely lemon Yoghurt Cake” from “Simple Cake”

Kirstin: I am so not a baker of cakes. There are several reasons for this. We are not huge cake eaters. But also because my oven has a problem with its thermostat. Great for pizzas. Cakes not so much.

But this book and my new microwave oven are set to change all of this. And it’s now exciting to be able to contemplate looking through the cake sections of my cookbooks without that threat of burnt cake.

This cake was the first (I hope) of many such a collaboration between book and oven. Truly I do not think I ever cooked a cake that turned out as well as this. The crumb was perfect. And as you can see. NO BURNT TOP! Also, I’m looking forward to making this again having read in Bon Appetit magazine recently that you should replace your baking soda every month and store it in the fridge. SO exciting!

My dinner guests and I were all completely thrilled with the results and demolished the lot. Winner. And I loved the idea of a gin glazing. I will try that NEXT time, for sure!

“Lovely lemon Yoghurt Cake” from “Simple Cake”

Cookbook of the Month, April 2019: Simple Cake by Odette Williams

Maureen: Huzzah! A month of cake!

Kirstin: I picked this book because of the photographer, Nicole Franzen, who has a great Instagram. She’s just my favourite.

Maureen: Plus it made sense to have a month of cake in April we have children home from their respective universities, so I know that cake in the house will be most welcome.

Kirstin: I like how the recipes tell you how long it’s going to take to make the cake. The time involved often puts me off, but some of these recipes are pretty straightforward and quick.

Maureen: As someone who loves to bake cake, and would do it every day if I could, I think she does an excellent job of demystifying cake baking for people who aren’t comfortable doing it.

Kirstin: I agree. I took a photo of the olive oil cake, and sent it to her. She posted it on Instagram and then we had a lovely conversation about it.

Maureen: Now that is cool. See? Cake brings people together!

Kirstin: This might even make me a baker!

Maureen: We’ll see.


Cookbook of the Month, April 2019: Simple Cake by Odette Williams