Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Esteemed Readers of a certain age will remember a “swirly” as a particularly unpleasant schoolboy prank - the act of holding a victim upside down with his head in the toilet and flushing.

My grandmother’s venerable tube pan.
But the word “swirly” also puts me in mind of certain baked goods. I recall, in particular, a black-and-white marble cake my grandmother used to make in her venerable tube pan, a cake with a distinctive flavor that, even now, I can tease out of the recesses of my Sense-Memory.  Grandma Shirley’s considerable culinary skills, truth be told, were not their strongest in the field of baking, yet this is the one marble cake to which I compare all marble cakes unto this very day... and not one of them quite measures up.

Whether impelled by nostalgia or the artistic impulse, this week I cranked out a couple of swirl-related items: a couple of loaves of cinnamon swirl bread, and a lemon-matcha pound cake.

I had been asked to bring a cake to a break-fast meal hosted by our friends Barry and Malka.  Break-fast, it should be pointed out, is not quite the same as breakfast: The latter is the first meal one takes in the morning, the former the meal one snarfs down at the conclusion of Yom Kippur after having abstained from food or drink for some 27-odd hours.  Breakfast staples like cold cereal, grits, toast, eggs, and (especially!) bacon don’t make an appearance at the break-fast table.  Typically, there will be an array of dairy and fish dishes... nothing too heavy... and, of course, desserts.

But what cake to bring?  Something chocolatey?  Something with layers and icing?  Or something reasonably straightforward?  I settled on the lemon-matcha marble pound cake I had seen in a post at Joy the Baker, one of the Mistress of Sarcasm’s favorite sites.

I’m not sure what sold me on this cake, the mouth-watering photographs in Joy’s post or the idea of a pound cake containing matcha, Japanese powdered green tea.  (I am, after all, a big fan of matcha as a food ingredient, having used it in several recipes.)  Regardless of the why, the what turned out to be very satisfying, a fine coda to a delightful break-fast meal.

Lemon-Matcha Pound Cake slice
A slice of lemon-matcha marble pound cake awaits my eager fork. The only way to improve this stuff is to throw it in the toaster until it’s a golden brown, and then to apply a thick topcoat of sweet butter.

There were more swirlies.  For some perverse reason, I took it into my head to bake up a couple of loaves of cinnamon-swirl bread.  Regrettably enough, these turned out to be delectable... especially after I went and French-toastified one of the loaves.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
There oughta be a law against bread that tastes this good...

...and if there were, making French toast out of it would be a hanging offense. Good Gawd.

One of the pleasant features of swirly, marbly cakes and breads is that every slice reveals a slightly different pattern of light and dark... a sort of culinary Rorschach test.  Look - a snake!  A bunny!  A couple of goats, humping!  Plus, you get to eat the slice after you’ve talked to your shrink.


Rahel said...

Or a shape that says: "Drizzle maple syrup all over me and eat me!"

Elisson said...

Just so, Rahel - and, astute observer that you are, I'm sure you noticed the puddle of pure maple syrup in which those chunks of French toast were sitting.