Saturday, March 10, 2012

People of the Book...and Cake!

Today for I am doing a review with benefits ;) I am going to tell you about a GREAT book (5+ stars) and a rather obscure cake recipe that I got as a result of reading it! First the book: "People of the Book." Have you heard of it? It is by Geraldine Brooks and it is the story of a very special book and its travels around Europe.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly meme hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend.  (The button is on your right...)

The book that the novel is about is an actual book - the Sarajevo Haggadah. A Haggadah is a book that everyone uses to follow along and read from during the seder - the Jewish ceremony held during Passover. This particular Haggadah is VERY special for several reasons. First of all, it is very old, and secondly, it is illuminated (has pictures) and most haggadahs do not have pictures. These are really special, old pictures, as well. I have included some examples (from Wiki) of the pictures here.



So, the novel, "People of the Book," is a fictional story about the real book - you with me so far? In the novel, Hanna Heath, uses clues to trace the history of the book. She traces the book as it travels across Europe - and we get to travel with it for centuries! What I found touching was that the book was saved during times of turmoil in Europe by non-Jews. Muslims saved it during the Nazi period. And, that brings us to the double meaning of "People of the Book." That is actually a term of respect that some Muslims use for Jews and Christians...we are all "People of the Book," in that all three religions hold the Old Testament more or less in common, and as such we are all cousins. So, this was the PERFECT title for this novel, as it is about the Haggadah and it is about good people of many faiths working to preserve it! How very interesting, Libby, you are saying to yourselves. But, "I was told there would be cake." (haha!) OK, I am getting to that...our heroine, Hanna, has to work really hard to learn more about the book. At one point, she checks in with her mentor in Vienna. While there, she is served coffee and Waves of the Danube Cake.

So, I am reading along, and see this reference, and naturally, I look it up and and I come across a baking blog Hungry Squirrel Cakes that has pictures and the recipe.

She has the recipe on her blog so I am not going to copy it here - click on Hungry Squirrel Cakes, above, if you want to make it and impress all your friends! Basically, the cherries weigh down the cake in places as it rises in the oven and that creates a pattern of 'waves' in the cake when seen from the side. So, I have followed the squirrel's recipe and present you with the following: (I am also including a YouTube video of the "Waves of the Danube" waltz because I like to set the mood!)
So, first you make a yellow cake...
Carefully (so as not to mix the two) cover the yellow batter with chocolate batter...

Add the cherries...
Bake. Then add the creme layer, and then CAREFULLY add the chocolate layer..
Then, cut and admire the waves and FORCE your family to admire the waves (even though that cherry to the right in the picture sank like a rock in the Danube...)



I am linking this post to Novel Food at briciole.typepad.com. I was sooo excited when I stumbled across their concept! They put together blog posts of food derived from novels that have been cooked up and photographed by bloggers all over the net! You should check it out!

18 comments:

  1. Your comment about the cherry that sank like rock totally cracked me up. What an awesome cake -- I love the waves. And I'm listening to the waltz as I type.

    I've had People of the Book on my reading list forever. It's very appropriate reading as we come up on Passover (just a couple of weeks away). I really need to make time for it.

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  2. I know we have a copy of this book in the bookshop...when I go in this morning I'm going to look for it and grab it...your description has made me want to get to it soon.

    That cake is to die for...my problem is that it is just my husband and I ate home now, and I know what would happen if I made it, lol.

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  3. Your review makes me want to read it. Sounds like a wonderful book. The picture from the Haggadah is beautiful! The cake looks delicious, even with the sinking cherries.

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    1. Its one of my all time favorite books! I just took #4 son, Alex, a piece of cake with milk. He looked at it and said, "So, how did you build this cake? And, did you get a camera and record it all for your blog?"

      LOL! Good ol Alex! He did not say a word about my sinking cherries either!

      thanks for commenting!

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  4. Wonderful post! Here is my recipe for Irish Boxty

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  5. I haven't heard of it...but it does sound like one I'd like. As well as this cake...slice me off a piece-I don't care where the cherry lays ;). Yummy.

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  6. This is a great post; I love learning something new on these blogs! I'm going to try your cake too, it looks yummy.

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  7. Such an interesting and delightful post. I loved it!

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  8. What a fun post -- sinking cherries, waves, luscious chocolate, seder, and a book that's new to me. Hungry Squirrel Cake . . . hmmmm.

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  9. Wow! That cake looks amazing and made me crave cake!

    I liked People of the Book but I did prefer the historical storylines to the modern stuff. I didn't connect as well as I should have with Hannah, especially at the end of the book.

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  10. The book sounds fabulous and that cake looks to die for!

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  11. Another wonderful fictional book and weekend cooking tie in, Libby! And with a seasonal connection, too. That cake looks fabulous. Don't they all? ;)

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  12. Oh my, MEGA indulgence! now what excuse can I think up that calls for cake... ;)

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  13. What an interesting book! I am so glad you wrote to me and sent me your posts. Thank you for contributing to Novel Food.

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    1. I'm glad you came by! I am so excited about Novel Foods - it is such a great concept. I feel lucky that I can participate!

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  14. Looks great!
    Ali (aka The Hungry Squirrel)

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    1. Hey! How cool! The Hungry Squirrel is here, who I got the recipe from... I'm coming over for a visit...

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