By Warren Rojas
Wanna make someone feel really special? Hand them a cake.
“Presenting one quiets a room and brings focus on the guest of honor,” CakeLove founder-cum-cookbook author Warren Brown suggests in “United Cakes of America”—a national snapshot taken through oven windows.
Brown sifts through cake lore, tracing the chronology of modern cheesecake (1872 – cream cheese first developed; 1930s – Arnold Reuben serves cream cheese cake at his NYC deli; 1974 – New York Magazine crowns Junior’s in Brooklyn as best cheesecake source) and dishing on mythological bakers (Betty Crocker is a marketing fiction; Duncan Hines first gained fame via his Depression-era restaurant guide). He also sprinkles random factoids about all 50 states—Norwalk, Conn., is home to the ganache-covered perigrod truffle, the most expensive chocolate in the world ($250)—throughout. Regional selections include: pineapple upside-down cake – Virginia (Norfolk resident won Dole’s 1925 recipe contest), cherry trifle – D.C. (riffing on the cherry blossoms) and Smith Island cake – Maryland (local favorite).
Other noteworthy confections include: black-walnut torte (Arkansas), St. Louis gooey butter cake (Missouri), cassata cake (Ohio), tomato-soup cake (New Jersey) and chocolate-sauerkraut cake (Michigan). The cake worship continues at: www.northernvirginiamag.com/brownqanda.