So most of you know about the Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake
debacle event. If you don't, check out the Daring Bakers links on my sidebar and see how much fun we all had with Martha's recipe. I never was much of one for the multi-bowl, thousand-ingredient, several days of prep, exponentially increased chance of failure, recipe. It must be a life stage thing because for a good portion of my adult life I had children and no time or patience for overly fussy anything. Now that my time is a bit more my own, however, I find myself pouring though those recipes and anticipating the challenges.
There's definitely something intriguing about multiple layer cakes. Seven, ten, fourteen, the more the merrier, that get the imagination going. So much care and effort for something so ephemeral. Like like the sand mandala; the beauty of a crepe cake is fleeting.
But there is a way to have your cake and eat it too (sorry, bad pun intended, it's early). Buy a knife of Damascus steel and you can look at those layers every time you cut something. This morning, Anthony showed me a new sister site to one of his favorite tool catalogs, The Japan Woodworker called fittingly; The Japan Chef. It's nice. They have gorgeous things for the kitchen. But in particular, and the reason A called me to his desk, was the Damascus steel chef's knives handmade by Hatori. He has long had a deep appreciation for this technique and once bought me a beautiful handmade Damascus pocket knife as a gift.
Wow. I had to sit down. This has to be one of the most beautiful examples of this craft I have ever seen - and I've seen a lot of them.
Martha's got nothing on this guy - this knife has 360 layers. That's right, 360. Damascus steel is made by folding, and pounding layers of steel together until they're wafer thin. This process originated in Japan and used in sword making as well as for hand tools. It was designed to mix a soft and hard metal, thus resulting in a durable blade with a sharper edge. Hard metal cuts well but can shatter. Soft metal cuts badly, but is sturdy.
The knife in the photo happens to be from Japanese Chef's Knife, another good source for these beautiful knives. They come in a decent range of prices and it it is a wonderful thing to use a beautiful handmade tool.
And not only is it beautiful - its eminently useful as well. Go ahead and read the story - it's fascinating and there are more photos. You'll have another reason to want one. Move over M.