KPCC Comes Cakebarring With Us!
One of the men I work with wished me and my friends good luck cakepopping this weekend.
biz cards and date cake
I don’t know what that is, but maybe we could work it into our approach.
Because I’m crazy and trying to catch up to the 50 cake mark, I went cakebarring on Friday AND Saturday night this past weekend, armed with a Date Cake, a Sock It To Me Cake, and a radio producer from KPCC. I am still wrapping my head around how much footage Lauren the radio producer will have to go through from our big night out, and what a good sport she was to follow me around for 5 hours while I apologized for my cake sloppiness. “This is really poor presentation… good thing this is for the radio and no one will see a visual!”
Except for you guys.
emma and the boys (rocket scientist far left)
Friday night was Date Cake at Oldfield’s in Culver City, a perfect bar for cakebarring because of its comfortably packed crowd size and endless tables. I did not make a Date Cake to be cutesy– I made a Date Cake because I love dates. (And this one called for a buttery sugary caramel glaze. Sold!) My friends Emma and Liz joined me as first timers, each inviting a guy friend to come along, and second timer Ashlei joined as well. The bartender was nice enough to loan me a knife the size of a sword to cut the cake with, and I started by offering a group of guy friends some cake at the end of our table. I was walking back and forth to serve pieces, and one of them appeared behind me. “You’re the one who made this cake? I just had to come back and give you a hug.” He seemed happy to leave his friends to talk to us, and we witnessed an amazing coincidence when Liz’s friend John arrived and they both leaped out of their chairs to hug. They had gone to high school together and not seen each other for 10 years, (although they were planning to see each other the very next day at their reunion).
A girl I presumed to be Nice Guy’s girlfriend appeared soon after, so we carried on looking for other hungry gentlemen. Emma’s friend Brett challenged me to see who could invite the most people back for cake, and I ran off feeling like maybe I should operate under this time constraint every week– speed cakebarring. I struck out with 4 people (4 people, you guys!!) before finding Emma chummying it up with three guys at the bar who were VERY interested in cake. (Meanwhile, Brett had invited girls back for cake…) Emma wins the contest, as the guys she brought back were friendly and sweet, and highly complimentary about the cake. (One of them was a rocket scientist, which deserves like, twenty thousand bonus points. He threw his genius head back and laughed when I told him why we were at the bar.) We had a grand time with these boys, with Emma losing a game of US Capitals to the drunkest one of the bunch.
birthday charlie and co.
And then came Second Round Saturday. I made a Sock It To Me cake in honor of Lauren the KPCC producer joining us, and used my friend Carrie’s grandmother’s recipe for the occasion. It’s a yellow cake base with sour cream and pecans, and it’s delicious, (and absolutely meant for a bundt pan). Since I remembered 5 minutes before starting that I don’t own a bundt pan, I did some improvising, sprinkling the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the two round cake layers so we’d still get a little of the flavor in there. Poor planning with the best of intentions is really my cakebarring story arc, (and probably applies to all other areas of my life).
After Lauren the producer asked lots of thoughtful questions (and patiently waited for me to decide which bar I wanted to go to), I scarily pasted the cake layers together with whipped cream and she and Chrissy and I were off to the Pikey in Hollywood. It was amazing to walk into a bar with a reporter– it’s ANOTHER conversation piece that isn’t a cake! I also just loved this particular bar– everyone at the Pikey was eerily attractive, and the staff was shirt-off-your-back nice. We ended up finding an actor and his friends celebrating his birthday (and no one had thought to make him a cake!) Birthday Charlie had a cute friend, a designer and stand-up who seemed very interested in cakebarring. I asked for his number so we could follow up about his comedy shows, and it was only after he left that our reporter friend broke it to me that he is actually engaged. (Yes, it’s true, guys. The only person whose number I got at the bar is absolutely unavailable.) “He thought you were cute, and would have been interested if he wasn’t getting married.” We ran into some chatty English music producers who seemed fascinated by the project, and were eager to share their thoughts on the LA dating scene. “The number one emotion in this town is desperation,” they told us– a surefire recipe for disaster in relationships. (It should be noted that one of them is happily married to a woman from Tennessee.) Then we talked to some of the sloshed guys around us who were thrilled to eat cake but maybe more thrilled to have a microphone in front of them– a nice opportunity to weigh in about how they felt about public transportation in LA, and other hardships we face as young people in the city.
self-proclaimed douchy bar experts
There was a guy who was literally a cartoon character bouncing up and down, chomping at the bit to eat cake. There was a great guy in glasses who couldn’t tell us who he worked for, (and who I couldn’t tell whether he was interested in me or not). And then there were the three LA natives, eager to suggest more bars for me to try out. “Look up the douchiest bars in LA,” Mason told me. “That’s where we go. That’s where you’ll find us.” They were kind of amazing. As was the bar manager, his wine distributor Jolly, the front door man, the waiter, the female valet… it was kind of like a dream. So many people eager to eat cake and talk to us about eating the cake.
I hope the radio cut comes across this way. Whether it was the cake or the microphone, we met a lot of people that night who were excited about the project, and it made me excited about the project, too.
Before we drove away, a group of people in front of the bar clamored for us to roll down the window, all hoping to say one last thing into Lauren’s microphone. I don’t remember what they said… I think something about good luck…
It should be noted that Lauren, our awesome radio friend, met her current boyfriend because he just had to meet the girl responsible for the delicious pumpkin gingerbread he ate…
liz, ashlei, and the butcher knife
1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons baking soda
8 ounces butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
For the Sauce (for 1 cake):
1/2 pound butter
1 cup brown sugar (8 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
emma vs. brett
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-round cake pans or 20 muffin tins. Place the dates in large saucepan with 3 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (which will cause the mixture to bubble up). Cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, occasionally scraping down mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour and salt and mix briefly to give a lumpy dough. Next, add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides of bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery but don’t worry! Finally add the baking powder (this will bubble up also). Pour the batter evenly into the two pans or muffin tins. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes for cake pans and about 20 minutes for muffin tins. Test if they are cooked with a small knife or toothpick, it should come out clean when cakes are done.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and well blended.
When the cakes are done, poke little holes all over with toothpick, this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the caramel sauce over cakes while both are still warm and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out upside-down onto serving plates (the bottom is the most sticky bit!). Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
sock it to me cake!