Since childhood, I have had a book within easy reach. My love for reading has only grown with the years. From fiction to fantasy and every genre in between – I want to read it all. My family jokes that my “To Read” list only continues to grow despite how many books I have finished. As true as this may be, it does not deter me from opening the next cover and diving right in.
The written word holds immense power. It can build fantastical new worlds, unlock the imagination, and transport us into the past. A personal favorite time period is the 1940s and World War II. The atrocities occurring throughout the world brought so many individuals from every walk of life together. I can’t seem to get my hands on enough of these books, especially the ones that speak to the strength of the women who stepped up. It has taken many years for the stories of these women to make it to the light but their courage and perseverance speaks volumes today.
Although it is far from an easy read, I decided to start my reading journey for 2020 off with Ravensbruck – Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm. This eye-opening account weaves together the stories of these women, sharing their pain, suffering, and ultimately their survival. Many of us have had the glossing of World War II and the concentration camps established by Hitler, but I wanted more. The stories tear at your heart, but serves as a strong reminder of the power of hate. It amazes and frightens me what humans can do to one another. Women in the camp were tortured, starved, emotionally brutalized, and many executed – simply because they were of a different religion, race, or political background.
I was inspired by this book to try a new project – Books and Bakes. I wanted to incorporate my love of reading with my passion for baking. While reading Ravensbruck, I was reminded of a cookbook I had on the shelf that I have hardly touched. American Cake by Anne Byrn highlights cakes by decade, from as early as the 1600s to the present day. Flipping right to the chapter – 1917 to 1945: Baking in the Good Times & the Bad Times – I found my connection.
The Brooklyn Blackout cake was originally developed by a local Brooklyn, New York bakery – Ebinger’s. The Brooklyn Navy Yard implemented mandatory blackouts to protect the ships, carriers, and workers present on base. Blackouts were also very common throughout Europe during the war. As mentioned in Ravensbruck, some of the women were being transported by cattle train past Berlin, Germany overnight. Despite knowing they were passing the city, not a light could be seen due to the blackout to make it difficult for Allied planes to bomb the city.
This cake is all about the chocolate. Each bite is rich indulgence. Chocolate cake is filled with a chocolate custard, covered in a silky frosting, and topped with crumbled cake. Any chocolate lover will find themselves at home when presented with a slice.
My goal this year is to read at least 20 books – hopefully life will allow for more! Be sure to check back regularly to see what my current read has inspired me to bake. The possibilities are endless just as the written word is limitless. Happy reading!