#Procrastibaking: Vietnamese Coffee Cake Edition

Procrastination is an art. Baking is a science. Procrastibaking is a necessity. At least for us, and especially during a busy work week. First coined by the New York Times in an article published in May of 2018, procrastibaking, as a concept, has been around for much longer than it’s had a name—probably ever since there’s been work to do and cookies to bake.

Sure, we’ve got a catering kitchen of our own, bursting with the frenetic energy of food prep day in and day out, but the realities of our business are the same as any other. We’ve got projects and meetings and planning and busy work and on and on and on and… Well, we could use a distraction or two—or a baker’s dozen.

It’s a Thursday, the first of the year. Approximately 3pm. We’ve run (Lyfted) away from the EC office. Away from the eternal glow of our laptop screens and towards the yellow spotlights hanging from the ceiling of resident boss lady Wendy Pashman’s Lincoln Park kitchen. Who is “we”? Marketing interloper Remy Patrizio and NEW innovative concepts consultant Jane Mensing. In fact, it’s Jane’s second day on the job. What better welcome to the team than an afternoon of delicious procrastibaking? Let our our little Test Kitchen Tuesday commence!

Remy is our resident recipe expert. She stumbled upon this Vietnamese coffee cake recipe on Food52. It features brigadeiro icing, a specialty of Brazil. Decadent, global and chocolate-flavored? Right up our alley!

Procrastibaking Prep

The ingredients are simple and already in the Pashman-Patrizio kitchen cupboard. A key element of procrastibaking is accessibility. Running out to the store to grab special products falls into the basic procrastination category. We crowd the kitchen counter with our ingredients and preheat the oven. We also pop open a bottle of Prosecco to share—baking fueled by bubbly! Meanwhile, Wendy sets the table in the sitting room. We can’t serve a warm, delicious cake on an undressed table! With a blue and cream tablecloth and coordinating china, we’re leaning into the “Vietnamese” aspect—a zen, pan-Asian theme. We’ve even tied in our Betty blue and white tea towels and Brendan tie-dye chef’s mitt.

The Big Bake

Time for a team effort. A chef might say there are too many cooks in the kitchen, but home bakers play by their own rules. Our team, freshly cobbled together, gets to know one another while sifting the flour, fluffing the butter and mixing the wet with the dry. To the sweet tunes of The Pretenders (on vinyl), we learn that Jane is both an expert floor manager (thanks to her experience in the restaurant biz) and a whiz with a hand mixer.

Remy can’t figure out just how much cardamom is supposed to go into the batter, so she polls the room—we love it, so she spices generously. It’s clear she prefers to rely on her culinary instincts rather than go strictly by the book. Wendy flits around, tasting the batters, inquiring about consistency and ensuring everyone’s topped off with either Prosecco or coffee.

Turns out we’re all pretty comfortable flying by the seats of our pants, both in the kitchen and in the office.

Icing on the Cake

We’re deep in conversation when the iPhone timer rings. Jane grabs the cake from the oven, and we set it out to cool—feeling very Great British Bake Off, transferring from cake dish to wire rack.

No one here had ever heard of a brigadeiro, much less made one. It’s condensed milk, butter and instant coffee, all dumped into a saucepan and heated. The icing takes near-constant stirring, so Remy and Jane take turns attending to it while the cake sits. The sauce thickens, the kitchen smells of coffee and cocoa and it’s time to pour the brigadeiro over the coffee cake. Insta-worthy icing drips.

Coffee and Cake for All

After carefully walking the cake over to the candlelit table, we snap even more photos for the ‘gram. The aesthetic of our little makeshift tea party is an uncannily perfect fit for the cake. Everything is soft and glowy—the candlelight reflecting the satin finish of our Merriweather flatware, the glossy, translucent brigadeiro, and the soft, worn-in feel of our EC@Home napkins.

Time to cut in. Remy, head procrastibaker of the evening, does the honors. The cake is unbelievably moist, and the scent of coffee and cocoa wafts across the dessert table. She plates each of us a slice, using our Upton cake server—the antique-style handle, carved of bone, makes our dessert party feel special, elevated.

Turns out that Vietnamese coffee cake and a warm cup of espresso make the perfect pairing. Over exclamations of cakey goodness and many metaphorical pats on our own backs for our work in the kitchen, our conversation turns back to work—kitchen inspiration, travels, future blog posts (wink?), goals for the year. 

Procrastibaking with coworkers ended up a roundabout way to get to know one another, have casual conversation about work outside of work, and get our hands dirty in the kitchen. And, boy, was it delicious.