Last Saturday our monthly supper club celebrated Cake Day. What is Cake Day, you ask? It is the ultimate baking party! 13 of us baked 19 cakes over 12 hours interspersed with laughter, drinks, pork, photos, and some stray frosting in unexpected places. If you remember our Pie Day party, you can imagine the epic proportion. My talented friends took plenty of photos (and more!) and I leave it up to them to tell you all about the sweetness that overflowed.
As much as we love cakes, we must fuel our long day of baking with savoury treats. Our potluck spread was equally impressive though much more subdued by our usual standard. I brought along a duo of dips. One big tub of spicy sweet muhamarra with pita chips and jars of Mushroom Pâté with Olive Oil Toasts. Both are easy items to prepare and I can make them ahead of time with minimal fuss.
I have a secret crush on cream of mushroom soup that comes in a red and white tin. (Quick! Someone alert the whole food police!) Growing up, Mom always kept a few tins in the pantry for soup or a quick pasta sauce. For me, it is very much a taste of childhood. I don’t remember the last time I opened a tin though. Must have been over ten years? This nostalgia is shared by many of my friends. A dollop of this Mushroom Pâté is reminiscent of cream of mushroom soup, except better and more complex. There is a depth of flavour from shallot, thyme, vermouth, and lightly caramelized crimini and porcini. A touch of richness was contributed by judicious use of cream cheese and heavy cream. Everyone who tasted the pâté asked me for recipe, including Little Brother. I was especially amused by his request because he can easily ask me to make the pâté any time. I suppose cream of mushroom has that kind of special power over us.
As for my contribution to Cake Day, I went a little overboard with three different cakes. I was adamant about making BAKED’s Root Beer Bundt Cake right from the start. The recipe intrigued me from the day I bought the cookbook a few years ago. It took me a whole year to track down all the specialty ingredients including root beer schnapps and extract. As the big day approached, I started having second thoughts. There would be many photogenic cakes at the party and a brown Bundt covered with brown frosting was not much of a looker. So I decided to go totally opposite with the most majestic Mont Blanc as my second cake. The teetering tower of meringue, ricotta chestnut cream, Chantilly cream, dark chocolate, and marrons glaces was a sight to behold. It was 2am on Friday when I got started on the meringue discs and realized I had five extra egg yolks hanging around. Yolks do not keep well so I did the only sensible thing: made another cake with them. That was how I ended up with a third cake of Gâteau Breton. Big thanks to Bonita Mok for the photo of me with all three cakes!
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook
makes 2 cups
- 1oz dried porcini mushroom
- 1lb crimini mushroom, sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large shallots, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 big swig of vermouth
- salt and pepper
- 2oz cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Microwave 1 cup water with porcini for 1min. Let it sit for 5 minutes to soften.
- Fish out porcini (reserve soaking liquid aside) and pulse with crimini mushroom in food processor until pea-size or smaller.
- Heat a big skillet over medium heat with butter. Sauté shallot, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoons of salt until softened and fragrant. Add thyme and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add mushroom to pan and stir until softened. Add vermouth and let it evaporate. Keep cooking mushroom until liquid is released and evaporate, about 10-15min. Add 1/3 cup of reserved porcini soaking liquid and cook more until the mixture is dry.
- Tip cooked mushroom into large mixing bowl. Stir in cream cheese, heavy cream, pepper, parsley, and white wine vinegar. Adjust seasoning. Pack in containers and chill in fridge at least 2 hours before serving.