Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Winning Hearts and Minds Cake

Posted in Desserts by Paul Gauche on January 30, 2010

Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Chocolate Cake
from Molly Wizenberg‘s “A Homemade Life”

You can ‘Google’ “Winning Hearts and Minds Cake” and find over 93,000 results. That’s a lot of hearts and minds! And why not: this is an outrageously exquisite dessert! What you’ll also find is that nearly every one of those 93,000 results eventually brings you back to Molly Wizenberg’s recipe for Winning Hearts and Minds Cake on her food blog at and in her latest book, “A Homemade Life.”

So here’s your homework for the weekend: Visit her website and read her blog, buy her book, and then, by all means, make this cake, whip the cream and invite some friends over. Not too many–just a couple friends.


  • 7 ounces really good, dark chocolate, unsweetened or bittersweet
  • 1 ¾ sticks (that’s 14 Tablespoons) butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • Whipping Cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and butter that too. Chop the chocolate and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler.

Add the sugar to the chocolate and butter mixture, stirring well, and then set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition, and then add the flour and stir well. The batter should be smooth, dark, and silky. Pour the batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is crackled, the edges are puffed and the center of the cake looks set. It should ‘jiggle’ only slightly. You can also insert a toothpick and when the toothpick comes out dry, it’s done.

Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Molly Wizenberg suggests that to remove the cake from the pan you can flip the cake onto a serving plate to finish cooling. The cake is very delicate so try this: Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the cake pan and place a large, flat plate or sheet plate (not the serving plate) on top of the foil, facing down. Hold cake pan and plate firmly together and quickly and carefully flip them. Remove cake pan to reveal cake which is now upside-down. Remove parchment paper. Gently place the serving plate on top of the cake. Wedge your index fingers between the plates to keep from squishing the cake, flip them so the cake is now right side up. Remove foil.

Allow to cool completely. Then serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.


Buttermilk Cluster

Posted in Breads,Breads, Rolls & Crusts by Paul Gauche on January 9, 2010


I rarely “lift” a recipe from some other source and place it into Cooking From Memory.  Nearly every recipe on this site is tried, tested and tweaked many times over.  But this recipe for Buttermilk Cluster is so good that it is “fully lifted” and appears here as it does on the Saveur website which, by the way, is a very classy, yet accessible collection of food fun. (

There was something about the simplicity of this recipe, not to mention the photograph that got me up and out of bed at 6:00 AM on this Saturday morning, into the car and down to the grocery store by 6:30 and back home and “aproned” by 7.  What a morning… everything worked perfectly. Well, nearly perfectly. I forgot the salt and noticed that right away when I bit into the first little pillow of happiness. So don’t forget the salt when you do this.  These soft, sesame seeded dinner rolls are based on a popular recipe on the baking website

So give this a shot. I hope your kitchen smells as good as mine does.

Ingredients ~

  • ¼ oz. active dry yeast (I use one 5/16 ounce package od Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

 Method ~

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup water heated to 115°; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.


Whisk in buttermilk and honey; add flour and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 6–8 minutes  (sprinkle in a little water if dough seems dry).

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

Heat oven to 400˚. Grease a 9″ round springform pan with butter. Uncover dough; divide into 12 portions.

Roll each dough piece into a ball; transfer ball to pan; repeat with remaining dough.

Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside to let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tsp. water. Uncover dough and brush egg mixture over the top; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dough registers 190°, about 35 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #126