Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Road Trip

Miss Chessman's Cakes is embarking on a new adventure.  A metaphorical road trip.  This inspired the blog makeover, and is inspiring me to explore baked treats from across the country.

Here's what happened.  I was sitting in a bookstore on Valentine's Day waiting for a friend and picked up some cookbooks to browse through.  Most of them baking ones were pretty mundane, but one caught my interest: United Cakes of America: recipes celebrating every state by Warren Brown, the author of Cakelove.  I didn't know anything about Warren Brown at the time, but have since learned that he is a pretty well-known baker, with a bunch of Cakelove bakery locations in the Washington, DC area and was host of the Food Network show Sugar-Rush.  UC of A is his new book, having been published in May of 2010.

In his introduction, he said that listening to people talk about their favorite home-town treats made him start thinking about what we bake and how we bake it.  What connects a cake with a state, is it history, heritage, crop production-based?  Warren embarked on a mission to find out what cakes (or really baked goods) places are known for and why.

I am piggy-backing off of his work and have decided to bake the United Cakes of America.  (I let him do the hard work and jumped then jumped on the bandwagon).  A la "Julie and Julia," I have purchased the cookbook and am determined to make every recipe in it.  Seems straightforward enough, right?  Fifty states, fifty cakes, one year, even giving me two extras to call in sick or lazy.  That would have worked if Mr. Brown hadn't decided to write about more than one cake from certain states, bringing his total number of recipes up to 71.

So here's the plan: I will bake every recipe in this cookbook over the period of a year and a half.  I'm going to aim to do one recipe every weekend (though I do reserve the right to be sick or lazy once in a while).  I will stick to the recipes as closely as I can (i.e. I'll cook the one with bananas even though I hate bananas), but I might make slight changes if I don't think it will change the integrity of the cake for reasons of personal taste or expense (i.e. I might change peaches to plumbs since I don't like peaches, but do like plumbs).  In the end, I will have baked 71 recipes, expanded my kitchen resources and made for some very happy co-workers, family and friends.  There are recipes in here that seem as simple as pie (ha!) and some that I can't even begin to understand the recipe.  But, like every road trip - it's an adventure!

Up first: Maine Whoopie Pies


  1. I love the idea, and I hope that I will enjoy some of the cakes. Having lived in six different states, I am happy to consult regarding any of them. :)