Okay, my first review of 2022 was a complete bummer, so it’s time for an almost literal palate cleanser, namely the cookbook that’s been the most useful to me in the past six months. Whether you are a fairly novice baker or an seasoned kitchen pro who just likes adding new tricks to your arsenal, Snacking Cakes has something to offer you.
The premise is simple: these are all one-bowl cake recipes, and from the start of mixing to when you take them out of the novel, you should be finished in under an hour. (Unless you double the recipe and bake it in a loaf or bundt pan, but that’s your choice.) They’re “snacking cakes” because they’re the kind of cake you can just cut a quick piece of in passing. You know. As a snack. And god bless that not a single one requires softening butter first: these are oil-based cakes that you can mix up in a flash.
I’ve baked at least a dozen recipes from this book now and they’ve all been winners. Sparkling gingerbread? Great. Chocolate yogurt cake? Delightful. Buttered walnut? Divine. Each has a glaze or topping that it’s paired with, but Arefi also provides flavor variations and alternative glazes that you can use instead, giving you all kinds of variations to suit your tastes or moods. If you are the kind of person who thinks frosting is too much/too sweet? Well, these glazes are just the right accent instead. If you find cakes to be overwhelmingly sweet? Well, my taste-testers have expressed pleasure in how just right the sweetness level of these cakes are. Are you or yours gluten-free? I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten free flour works beautifully in these cakes and most folks wouldn’t guess the difference if they weren’t told. (And your gluten-free peeps will be so happy for the deliciousness.)
Arefi’s recipe writing is clear, straightforward, and brisk: she’s an unobtrusive presence in this book but never leaves you perplexed, and there’s a blessed limitation on cutesy stories and such if that kind of thing drives you crazy. She knows what you need: a quick, unfussy cake to brighten up a humdrum day or to take to a party when you’re short on prep time, and this book delivers. I’m looking forward to baking from it more in this busy, hectic semester.