Friday, June 8, 2012

Ruth Reichl’s Vanilla Cake

Just call this post the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers, plus one.

Since last summer, I and a group of my fellow bloggers have explored this list of amazing women who greatly impacted the food world. I joined in at number 11, and each week enjoyed exploring the recipes of each one on the list. Some I knew well and enjoyed their recipes, such as Nigella Lawson, Ina Garten, Ree Drummond, Lidia Bastianich, Amanda Hesser, and Rachael Ray. Others were new to me, but now are on the favorites list: Elizabeith David, Clotilde Dusoulier, Donna Hay, Delia Smith, Darian Allen and Patricia Wells come to mind. Plus, I’m now a fan of the Canal House cookbooks and the Edible Communities magazines.

I missed numbers 1 through 10, so the plan is to back track throughout the summer and post about those famous women as well. Many are some of my all-time favorites. Stay tuned.

However, as this quest comes to the end for our group, I thought it was only fitting to add one more lady to the list—Ruth Reichl. After all, she was Gourmet magazine’s Editor in Chief for the 10 years before publication ceased in 2009. (A sad day indeed.) Before then, she was the restaurant critie for The New York Times. She’s written a number of memoirs about her food life, including my favorites Tender to the Bone and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. (Learn more about her here. The image is from her website.)

This recipe for Nicky’s Vanilla Cake comes from Garlic and Sapphires. (Nicky is Reichl’s son.) It is a dense Bundt cake that fills the air with a lovely vanilla aroma as it bakes. (The enticing smell woke up my husband, Michael, from a deep sleep. But I’ve noticed that many of my cooking aromas have done that lately.) The key to this recipe is to use really good vanilla extract. Mine is Mexican vanilla purchased at the farmer’s market.

The cake’s intense vanilla flavor is not only delicious, but it also filled me with a sense of comfort and home. I dusted it with confectioner’s sugar and served it with some fresh berries, but the cake also tastes wonderful on its own. (It would make a great base for strawberry shortcake!)

Nicky’s Vanilla Cake
Adapted from Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons best quality vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick canola oil spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the flour mixture, and then add the sour cream and vanilla. Beat will until combined. The batter is thick.

Spoon the batter into the Bundt pan. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. (Mine took 35.)

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and continue to cool to room temperature.  

Be sure to keep an eye on my fellow bloggers. All of them post some very tasty dishes.

Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed,
Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef,
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney,
Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary - One Perfect Bite,
Sue - The View from Great Island,
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Nancy - Picadillo,
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen,
Annie - Most Lovely Things,
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook,
Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me,
Martha - Simple Nourished Living,
Jill - Saucy Cooks
Sara - Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds


  1. Linda, this sounds delicious. It has been such a pleasure to have you in the group. I've enjoyed your recipes and the input you provided Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  2. If we compelled out own list I am sure Ruth would be there!

  3. "THE HUSBAND" Michael...June 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    The only time I get any sleep around here is when we go out for dinner LOL....Linda makes all kinds of "food aromas"that can wake you up no matter how deep a sleep your in...Spaghetti and french bread are my favorite....

  4. This is a perfect, simple recipe to end the series on. I look forward to your 1 through 10 posts Linda!