One of the books I was hoping to find when I visited the reader's Mecca (AKA Powell's City of Books) in October was Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking. I hadn't had any luck in the used bookstores around here and I had been looking for it for several years. The copy that used to be in circulation at the Greater Victoria Public Library was lost and it didn't seem they would ever get another one. So imagine the thrill when I not only found a lovely hardcover copy at Powell's, but a first edition! Now, I'm not much of a book collector, and usually buy paperbacks and beat-up used copies of books, but I'm not immune to that good first-edition feeling.
I am reading it very slowly, and relishing every chapter. Black Cake is the last chapter, but I had to cheat and read it because I knew I wanted to make one for Christmas. Here if what Laurie Colwin says about Black Cake:
"There is fruitcake, and there is Black Cake, which it to fruitcake what the Brahms piano quartets are to Muzak. Its closest relatives are plum pudding and black bun, but it leaves both in the dust. Black Cake, like truffles and vintage Burgundy, is deep, complicated and intense. It has taste and aftertaste. It demands to be eaten in a slow, meditative way. The texture is complicated, too -- dense and light at the same time."
With a description like that, how could I not make a Black Cake for our Christmas dinner? I just hope we're still alert enough after the turkey and the wine to enjoy all the "deep, complicated and intense" aspects of this culinary marvel.
So far, I've done step one, which is soaking the fruit in booze. Colwin recommends Passover wine but I noticed that Nigella recommends half a bottle of Madeira and half a bottle of mega-dark rum so this is what I did. I'll report on parts II and III closer to Christmas.