Easy Breezy Treats

Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi

Reviewed by Naomi Bussin

Whenever I mention “snacking cakes” I get the response “ooh, what’s a snacking cake?”  Until recently I hadn’t heard of snacking cakes either, but we all agree that it sounds good.  Also called snack cakes or counter cakes, snacking cakes are everyday cakes, not fancy and perfect for now. Sometimes a sweet snack is in order, and if achieving that goal doesn’t require a lot of time in the kitchen, so much the better. Yes I could eat an apple, but sometimes I want cake.  When I bake instead of buy, I choose what goes into it, controlling the sugar, avoiding chemicals and preservatives and modifying as necessary for allergies and preferences.

Typically, snacking cakes are made with pantry-friendly ingredients, and are adaptable to substitutions. They are often made with oil, which makes them moist, and means that you don’t have to use a stand mixer. Further to that point, snacking cakes are usually prepared in a single bowl, at most two, and require nothing more than a whisk and a flexible spatula.  They are single layer cakes with a simple glaze or icing, easy to eat whether at home or on a picnic.

It’s not a new concept and you may have some snacking cake recipes already.  But if you are looking for something new, Snacking Cakes by blogger and cookbook author Yossi Arefi is a great one. I love my fancy cake books, but I knew this one would be used more often. It’s a small book with 50 cakes, but lots of variations that quadruple that number.

The recipes are divided into four categories – fruit cakes, warm and toasty cakes, chocolatey cakes and not-your-average vanilla cakes. Our favourite was Salty Caramel Peanut Butter Cake, an easy cake with a fudgy caramel icing. To give you a sense of the options, you can bake it in different shapes and sizes, double it, dress it up with ice cream or change it into a cookie butter cake, peanut butter chocolate cake or peanut butter and jam cake.  Each has a different icing pairing.

We also liked Minty Chocolate Malt Cake, a simple chocolate cake, covered with mint chocolate frosting. I always like cakes made with ricotta and the moist Black and Blueberry Ricotta Cake was a good one. The only disappointment was the Berry Cream Cheese Cake, because the chunks of plain cream cheese didn’t work as I hoped they would.

I have a long list of cakes to try next, including Coconut Lime Cake, Almondy Plum Cake, All the Spices Cake with Vanilla Bean Glaze, Chocolate-Almond Olive Oil Cake with Raspberries and Lemony Olive Oil Cake (love olive oil cakes).  If you like eating cake, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time making the cake, this book is for you.

Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.