I’m too lazy to watch movies. In the rare cases that I do, my choices are not you would consider sophisticated. Mass market blockbusters that tug at viewers’ emotion with little subtly? Sure, sign me up! I watch most of my movies while sweating away on a treadmill without sound anyway. I am not picky.
At my women’s only gym, cooking shows and Hollywood romantic comedy share equal airtime on the television screens. Shows from both genre are frothy and forgettable. Do I pick up useful baking technique from watching Cupcake War? Do I learn how to host dinner party from the picture perfect set of Ina Garten’s East Hampton kitchen? Do I figure out how to lose a guy in 10 days? Or do I come to the conclusion that love can overcome amnesia? Oh and so the cynic prevails.
There are exceptions, of course. Nancy Meyers’ Something’s Gotta Give is among one of them. Seriously, I can watch the courtship between Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson over and over again. All the while, soaking in all the little details of the beautiful set (Hamptons! New York! Paris!) and cooking references. Everyone is entitled to some guilty pleasure, right?
Speaking of guilty pleasure, I was enjoying a piece of Peanut Butter Granola Cake when I thought of a scene in the movie. Keaton was placing an order in fluent French at a gourmet grocery counter. Amanda Peet who played her daughter commented that her mother thoroughly immersed herself into learning a new hobby with every break up. Coincidentally, I learned a few new skills under very similar circumstances. In fact, that was how I started inline speed skating.
Back to the cake. I first saw the recipe published on Serious Eats. The mention of peanut butter cake immediately caught my attention but it was the crunchy layer of peanut butter cookie granola that kept me intrigued. I love topping buttermilk cakes with streusel but it never occurred to me to scatter blobs of cookie dough. Can you imagine the possibilities? Cake and cookies together in one single dessert!
When I pulled my cake out of the oven, I was a little deflated, much like the cake I held in my hands. Somehow, the buttermilk-base cake engulfed much of the crunchy topping except for a small patch in the middle. Out of the twelve pieces I sliced, only three were lucky enough to offer that unique combination of tender cake and crunchy cookie topping. The remaining pieces were most like tender cake with a texturally ambiguous surprise filling.
Despite the recipe’s technical shortcoming, I think the author is on the right path to something really special. Yes, I am picky. As it was, the rustic looking cake tasted delicious and would be absolutely perfect for casual gatherings. Or to accompany a night of romantic comedies. I think a tiny bit of tweaking is all that is needed to give us a cake with classic flavour and unusual surprise.