Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bon Appetempt - Review + Recipe

Bon Appetempt: A Coming of Age Story with Recipes

A couple of weeks ago I had never heard of Amelia Morris or her blog Bon Appetempt.  But then I was wandering the end caps at my local library while the Tornado debated Pokemon books and movies and this book jumped out at me and demanded that I take it home right away.  I think the cover caught my eye and then the blurb fully reeled me in.  The first sentence talked about Morris attempting a chocolate peppermint cake for a Christmas brunch and the results being not quite so pretty but very tasty and how that set her on an adventure of attempting different recipes.  Can you see why I was hooked?  Thankfully, I missed the fact that the cover also called it a "Coming of Age" story because I'm usually not a fan of those.

I liked Amelia from the start.  We meet her at 5 years old trying to get into wrestling because that is what her very adored brother loves and her less adored but still loved father.  From there we go through her parents' divorce, custody arrangements, stepparents, high school, college, and discovering that life doesn't always turn out exactly how you expected.  Through it all she manages to not take herself to seriously (looking back I mean, I have a feeling the young Amelia was pretty melodramatic) and is incredibly honest with her mistakes and missteps.  I did really appreciate that she never fails to take responsibility for her actions even when she can understand why she reacted or did what she did she also doesn't take on unnecessary blame.

But it was when she really started cooking that I went from enjoying this book to really connecting with it.  I came later to cooking as well.  When I got married I could barely boil water and had no interest in changing that.  J did some of the cooking and we ate out a lot.  But then about 6 months after we got married he left for a business trip which was supposed to last 4 days and ended up lasting 3 weeks.  Somewhere in week 2 I had this moment.  I was sitting in the living room watching a show picking at my 10th takeout meal in as many days and I realized this was ridiculous.  I had a college degree, I could write complicated programs and was allowed to work in systems relating to national security and I couldn't cook chicken?  And from there I started my own journey and found my way to not only being able to cook but really enjoying it and it becoming one of my primary interests.  While I think our backgrounds are very different I really understood where Morris was coming from as she went on her own journey starting with the not so pretty chocolate peppermint cake.

I ended up really enjoying this book.  You never quite know what you're going to get from those impulsive book grabs but this was one ended up being a delightful and unexpected treat.  While food is a big part of the book - especially in the last half - there is a lot about acceptance, perseverance, and really growing up.  I'm so glad I listened when this book called my name.  If you want to get a peek at Amelia's writing you can check out her blog here.  My only complaint is there isn't a recipe index in the book which makes it a little harder to find the one I want but I can work with that!

I had a hard time picking a recipe to share because there are so many that I want to try (including one for Red Wine Risotto, Pasta Carbonara, A Very Pretty Orange Cake, and a number of others) I finally decided on one that was one of the first ones in the book.  This recipe had my mouth watering from the start and came at the end of a chapter I particularly enjoyed where she spends time working in Argentina.

Simple Vanilla Cake with Dulce de Leche

For the dulce de leche:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

For the Cake:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the cake pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Remove the paper label from the can of sweetened condensed milk and submerge the unopened can in a large, deep pot water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, adding water as needed to keep the can completely underwater. 
While the can is simmering, make the cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter two 9-inch cake pans, line the bottom of each with parchment paper, and then butter the paper as well.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, letting each one fully absorb before adding the next.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for a bit longer.  Keep the mixer on low and gradually add the flour mixture until it's completely combined.  Add the milk and vanilla and beat the mixture on medium speed until just combined.
Divide the batter between the two pans.  Smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 28 to 32 minutes.  Let the cake cool in their pans on wire racks for about 15 minutes, then turn them out onto the racks to cool completely.
When the can of sweetened condensed milk has simmered for 2 hours, use tongs to remove it carefully from the simmer water and let it cool for about 10 minutes.  Carefully (again), open the can and scoop the dulce de leche into a bowl: it should look like creamy caramel.  Whisk until smooth.
Ideally, you want to move straight into assembling the cake at this point.  (You want the dulce de leche to still be fairly warm so that you can pour it onto the top cake layer and get some pleasing drips along the side of the cake.  The goal is for it to look rustic.  But if the dulce de leche is too cold to form proper drips, no worries!  Just spread it over the top with a butter knife in a nice thick layer.)

To assemble the cake:
Place one cake layer on a platter.  Spread a layer of dulce de leche over the surface.  Top with the second cake layer.  Finish by topping with the remaining dulce de leche.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

And happy birthday to the woman who made the best lemon meringue pies and kept a jar of Hershey mini-s around at all times.  She would have been 95 today.  


  1. Woman, you had me seriously laughing out this morning! It's funny that you didn't have an interest and now you are a pro in the kitchen. Lol
    This is a book I passed over as well. The coming of age stories aren't always my cuppa tea but with this review I will add it to the stacks. Love the cake too!

  2. I love of coming of ages books! But I still waiting for passion for cooking to arrive. I can cook but just think it's a chore. Maybe when I'm retired and have more time, I'll enjoy it more.
    But back to the book, it sounds like a good read.

  3. I bought this book and plan to start it soon.

  4. I have this book on my eReader! I bet I'd love it. I didn't know the author had a blog ... see, that's probably because I haven't even opened the book yet. That cake sounds awesome.

  5. I saw this book mentioned somewhere before but based on your review, I am adding it to my foodie TBR list. (And that cake sounds pretty delicious!) ;-) I enjoyed hearing about your own journey to cooking as well.

  6. I do like coming of age stories and this one sounds great. I kind of grew into cooking as well. I used to consider making something out of a box cooking and now I don't even buy that stuff. I guess I was intimidated by cooking until I wasn't. Great review!

  7. I am one of those people who actually love coming-of-age books. The recipes makes the book a bonus so, thanks for the tip.

  8. If you could come into cooking late in life, maybe I can too. :-) I just have to get over my phobia. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Katherine. Sometimes it pays off to pick a book up on a whim.

  9. I actually like coming of age stories. This one sounds great. I didn't really start cooking until I was living on my own after college and now i love it!! Great review!!

  10. Woohoo on an impulse buy being a fantastic one. I can totally see why it jumped out at ya :)

  11. OMGawd, I would relate to this book as well! My grandmother who lived with us was a horrible cook and in turn so was my mother, ha ha, but they were both fabulous bakers. However, when they were baking I was not allowed in the kitchen, so I learned nothing! Then being on the road until I was thirty totally derailed me. Like I said on my blog... I had to look up how to bake a potato. That is so sad. Heh heh. Thanks for the recipe. I am glad you became intetrested in cooking and baking because you share some wonderful food related things with us. :)

  12. The chocolate peppermint cake is still rolling around in my mind, and I think I would also enjoy that book. Thanks for the delicious review and recipe.

  13. I haven't seen this one before but it sounds exactly like the kind of foodie book I enjoy and keep in my kitchen ever after.