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Cake - And then Some

by Jospeh Montebello

Who doesn’t love cake? From a towering tiered wedding confection, a symbol of starting a new life as a couple, to a birthday cake with just the right number of candles celebrating a special day, to a simple homemade pound cake or carrot or lemon—the possibilities are endless and there is, indeed, a cake for every occasion.

Renowned artist and author Maira Kalman and food writer Barbara Scott-Goodman came together and decided to share their love for this confection and gathered their favorite recipes into a charming book, aptly titled Cake. Ninety-six pages long, and beautifully illustrated by Kalman, this is the only cake book you will ever need. Not only can one cook from it, but it is a good read even if you are not planning on a trip to the kitchen. It is made up of 17 recipes, each with a story that Kalman created.

“I’m a self-taught cook,” explains Scott-Goodman. I’ve been working in the cookbook field for many years, first as a designer and then I became involved in creating them from scratch. I’ve always wanted to do a cake book but not because I’m the world’s greatest baker. I just think everyone loves that dessert and I wanted very much to work with Maira.”

While Scott-Goodman envisioned an illustration for every recipe and only a little text, Kalman had a different vision.

“I’d never illustrated a cookbook before, she says, “and I wanted to write about the importance of cake in daily life.”

Kalman documents the role cake has played in her own family, whether it’s a cake to mend heartbreak or the talking cure cake that is not a specific type but represents what her elderly aunt served her as they discussed life’s large and small challenges.

“I wanted the book to be useful with actual recipes people can use,” Kalman continues. “But I wanted to have an emotional outlet as well. I love the counterpoint of lyrical stories or sad stories or funny stories that challenge one’s emotions, coupled with the practicality of a simple recipe.”

The recipes include iconic cakes that everyone loves (and are sure to conjure their own memories) like classic white layer cake, lemon Bundt cake, and coffee cake. But there are also creative cakes, such as a pistachio and almond pound cake, a layered pavlova with fresh berries, and a honey cake. The recipes and the illustrations work together to celebrate the comfort of cake.

Even if one is not tempted to try one of the recipes, being engulfed in Kalman’s poignant stories, sampling her creative illustrations and savoring Scott-Goodman’s recipes will be enough for the armchair cook.

“All over the world, all the time, people are eating cake. They always have and they always will,” she said.

Maira Kalman and Barbara Scott-Gordon will sign copies of Cake on Saturday, June 2, from 2-4PM at George Home, 4 Titus Road, Washington Depot.