Speaking of cake, my feisty septuagenarian friend keeps an emergency cake in her freezer. Now, I've heard of emergency dinners...like keeping the makings of a meal in your freezer or pantry. But an emergency dessert?
You never know when a dessert crisis may surface.
One evening a bunch of us went to a local performance. Before the band started, our ringleader invited the gang to a semi-impromptu cook-out at his house afterwards (semi because he'd already invited those he'd recently seen, but was extending the invitation to the others). Emergency Cake Lady let her guard down for a moment and panicked...a visibly stricken face down to hand wringing. This last minute invite left her with "nothing to bring!" She surely didn't want to show up empty-handed knowing that it's Southern custom: if you're invited to someone's house, you best bring something besides yourself.
Emergency Cake Lady turned to her husband and said, "baby, go run home and take a cake out the freezer!" I loved it! Loved that she was so prepared for anything. Loved that she was so worried about showing up with nothing. Loved that she made her husband do the leg...uh...car work.
Her husband returned, leaned in towards her, and whispered "it's taken care of." I think they're part of a Dessert Mafia or something. After a little ribbing from some of the men
...what took so long, did you decorate it too, Martha?...
he confessed that since he raced home to defrost the Emergency Cake, he figured he may as well have himself a cold beer too.
Yay! Everybody wins.
A while back M @ Betty Crapper suggested I post about Cajun &/or Creole desserts. That got me thinking. Well, obviously. Or I wouldn't have mentioned it, right?
Do we (Cajuns & Creoles) have our own dessert? There's Greek baklava. Italians have cannoli. There's Mexican flan and sopapillas. The French have creme brulee and tarte tatin. When it comes to a classic Cajun or Creole dessert...I've got very little!
If only I had an Emergency Cake in the freezer.
Bananas Foster might come to mind. But it's not Cajun and I don't think it accurately represents Creole either. Having been created in the 1950s, it seems too much of a baby to go up against long-running traditions like tarte tatin or baklava.
Maybe Creole calas (rice fritters) or the beignet-like Cajun croquignoles qualify as representatives? But we normally have these for breakfast. King cake is something I thought of, although it's seasonal. Pralines would qualify, though they are also big in TX and other parts of the south. There's Cajun gâteau de sirop (syrup cake...which I'll make one day). Bread pudding would be a big one (and I'll make it to post too). But it can be found all over; not just in Cajun & Creole homes and restaurants.
Some people say Cajuns don't eat dessert. To me that's a half truth. At one time Cajuns didn't eat dessert.
Probably because they didn't have certain ingredients, such as flour. And what they did have went to making a filling meal, not dessert. Even into the early twentieth century, desserts weren't commonly found in Cajun homes. "Extant documentation suggests that there were few desserts, and those that existed, like gâteau de sirop (syrup cake), were quite simple, featuring seasonal fruit or homemade cane syrup" (Bienvenu, Brasseaux, and Brasseaux 23).
But you only have to read about Emergency Cake Lady to know that this isn't the case now. In fact, most Cajuns I know love dessert and wouldn't dream of sending their guests home without it. I've been to many potlucks where the number of the desserts equal the side dishes. And a couple of times out-numbered them!
Thanks to those Emergency Cakes.
Source: Bienvenu, Marcelle, Carl A. Brasseaux, and Ryan A. Brasseaux. Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2005.
Fig Cake may not be a good example of an emergency cake. I'm not sure it would recover well from being frozen. But it is an example of a traditional Cajun dessert...one that is simple and uses fruit many Cajuns and Creoles get right out of their backyards. The figs I used came from The Husband's maw maw's backyard. They were turned into preserves by my mother in law...not me because you know I'm too chicken to do that.
Mise en place for Granny's Fig Cake: milk, vinegar, eggs, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, fig preserves, applesauce
I love reading old recipes. But they aren't always well written.
This recipe never mentions mixing milk and vinegar. But does say to "add the milk and vinegar mixture."
I assumed this was supposed to act like buttermilk, so I mixed the two and let it sit.
While that gets all buttermilky, beat the eggs and sugar together.