The Haunting Power of Miso-Maple Loaf Cake

The cheesecake was named after him, and he later created a range of pastries called CĂ©leste that included strawberry, rhubarb and passion fruit. A few weeks ago, I asked Pierre if he could recall the exact date of when all of this occurred. He said she was “a young woman now,” but he wasn’t sure. Having him hold on to the name made me happy because he was patiently waiting for inspiration and reality to meet at the right time.

While Pierre is patient, my “what if” mutterings and notes written in a hurry have turned out to be some of the best ideas I’ve ever had. In the city of dreams, Paris, I had a dream about a cookie with jam on top and streusel on the sides, so I created it. As for the Bee’s Knees I once had with a buddy, I jotted down the ingredients in my notebook and subsequently turned them into a savoury snack. I had never baked with gin before.

I recently baked a loaf cake based on the fish and miso-maple syrup glaze I served for supper the night before. That something salty may become a cake for breakfast or that inspiration for something sweet could originate from something salty is perplexing. Because miso and maple syrup fall somewhere between sweet and savoury, they seemed like the perfect pairing.

Maple syrup, like honey, is teetering on the edge of sweetness for me. It has a tinge of bitterness, a tinge of sharpness to it. To me, it’s because of its teeter-tottery character that it works so well with salty foods like miso in this cake. When it comes to miso, the word “umami,” or “fifth flavour,” is always used to describe the dish. Although it’s salty, the flavour has an eerie, unsettling quality to it. An intense taste that can’t be missed, but is versatile enough to pair well with various components.

With miso and maple, my initial goal was to accentuate their sweetness. Nevertheless, they refused to back down, and I relented. Despite the name “cake,” the cake I created is savoury enough to go well with a slice of Cheddar as well as the warm jam I placed on top. When I have a tangerine on hand, I use its zest instead of the orange rind in the batter because it’s a little more tasty and distinct. Buttermilk is added to the batter to give it tang as well as to soften the crumb, which has a nice coarseness to it.