This week on The Great DPPL Bake-Along:
We bake coffee cake inspired by Chava's first foray into baking in The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.
We’ll share our results, our recipes, and a little bit about our chosen stories on this blog.
AND we invite YOU to bake along with us.
Share what you make by tagging us with #DPPLBakes, send us your favorite recipes, or just enjoy reading our entries.
“She baked the coffee cake, following the directions with fervent exactitude, and was successful in her first attempt. She was pleasantly surprised at the ease of the chore, and at the almost magical way that the oven transformed the thick batter into something else entirely, something solid, warm, and fragrant. The Rabbi ate two slices with his morning tea and declared it one of the best cakes he’d ever tasted.
She went out and bought more ingredients that afternoon. The next morning, the Rabbi awoke to find a bakery’s worth of pastries on the parlor table. There were muffins and cookies, a phalanx of biscuits, and a towering stack of pancakes. A dense, strongly spiced loaf was something called gingerbread.”
-The Golem and the Jinni, Chapter Six
The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two unlikely immigrants in 19th century New York City. Chava is a golem, built to be the wife of a wealthy Prussian who dies on the crossing to America. Ahmad is a jinni, imprisoned for centuries in a metal flask and released by an unwitting tinsmith in New York’s Little Syria. Both must find their way in Manhattan and learn to be part of the human world.
When she arrives in New York, Chava befriends a Rabbi who recognizes her for what she is and does his best to help her assimilate. Chava does not sleep and feels that she must constantly work. After some failed attempts to keep her happy and occupied, the pair stumbles on baking as a source of work and good way to practice at socializing with regular people.
I love coffee cake but I’ve never tried to bake it before, so I turned to Mark Bittman’s How To Bake Everything. It’s always available on Hoopla and can be checked out with Libby/Overdrive as well as in print, so I checked it out digitally and used my computer to view it. Bittman gives a basic recipe as well as a handful of delicious-looking variations like Blueberry, Pear-Ginger, and Cinnamon, plus instructions for vegan substitution.
I tried out the Yogurt variation first since I had some on hand. I wanted to use a bundt pan, which was probably a mistake. Bittman’s recipe for streusel mix (the nuts and sugar that swirl through the cake and sit on top) makes quite a lot, and I lost some of it while turning the cake out of the pan. The batter was also very thick and nearly killed my electric hand mixer, so I would recommend mixing with a good, sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. I added a drizzle topping: 1 cup of powdered sugar whisked into 2 tablespoons of milk.
Despite the struggle, the cake tasted great (with coffee, milk, or apple cider)!
I baked the cake a second time using Bittman’s base recipe and an 11”x7” rectangular pan and it went much more smoothly, with plenty of surface area for the streusel. Happy baking!
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Great DPPL Bake-Along.
Check back in two weeks for another delicious installment!