To quote Patrick Juvet, I love America. I love it for many things: Jimi Hendrix, the Chrysler Building, Robert Redford (circa 73/74), Aerosmith, David Cassidy, Robert Benchley, Lou Reed, Christopher Walken, Nirvana, Mad Men – the list goes on. I love that America can put a man on the moon but can't work a roundabout. I'm slightly jealous that they get a hot President running the country and we get, as Rich Hall – another treasure from across the pond – described them, a pair of gay antique dealers. I even have a sneaky admiration for their persistence in spelling things wrong. But when it comes to baking, their measurements do my head in. For dry ingredients, I can do cups, no problem, but come on, a cup of butter? Give me a break. Or even worse, sticks. Sticks? Yep, I know that it is possible to convert these into grams but how many recipes really call for 226.81 gms of butter? And how many times has it been drilled in to us that baking is a science and you tinker with quantities at your peril?
Anyway, I had some sour cream left over from last week so trawled the internet for a recipe to try out. I love coffee cake so when a sour cream coffee cake came up in the search, I was there. But it was an American recipe and called for 12 tablespoons of butter*. Hang on though, it was an Ina Garten recipe, the U.S.answer to Delia and former White House nuclear policy analyst. What could possibly go wrong? I’ll tell you what could go wrong. I’m checking off all the ingredients I need and it suddenly becomes clear that Ina's sour cream coffee cake contains NO COFFEE. Who said Americans have no sense of irony?
Sticking with Uncle Sam, this week I thought my tasters might like to try a Brooklyn Blackout cake which was created by Ebingers, a German bakery that was legendary in Brooklyn yonks ago. It's an unusual little chocolate number this, with its custardy type filling and outer crumb coating.
The recipe is taken from Annie Bells Baking Bible so I don’t know how it compares to versions in the USA, and I don’t care either. What I do know is that her recipe doesn't call for cups, sticks or quarts of anything, And anyway, the original recipe has never been shared by the Ebinger family and remains a mystery so none of the tasters will be able to dispute that it’s not a patch on the original. Back of the net!
*this equates to 171.42857142857144 grams. I threw caution to the wind and used 170 gms of butter but adhered to the cup measurements for everything else.