Australian Open Odds, Pick, and Preview: Xavier Malisse vs. Roger Federer

Xavier Malisse

#2 Roger Federer

One match after really struggling, the Swiss master, Roger Federer, is going to try to make significantly quicker work out of Xavier Malisse on Friday, the fifth day of matches of Australian Open betting action.

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Malisse is certainly up against it in this one, as he really has never had any luck whatsoever against some of the toughest players in the world. The Belgian has played here at the Australian Open a number of times before, and it’s scary to think that this is already his furthest progress in the competition in his Australian Open betting career. He had been knocked out in either the first or second round in six of the seven years that he played here in Sydney. Malisse has looked great from the get go, though, as he toppled Pablo Andujar 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the first round and then made incredibly short work out of #25 Albert Montanes in the second round 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. Malisse and his doubles partner, Jamie Murray have already pulled off an upset on that side of the Aussie Open draw as well. However, this would be the biggest triumph to date for certain for the 30 year old veteran. Trying to keep a clean game is going to be key, and that is something that Malisse has done very, very well so far in this tournament. He only has three unforced errors, and he played a spotless match against Montanes, all of which came via double faults. The service game has been a real problem, as Malisse only has eight total aces against those three double faults, numbers which will get him killed against Federer.

And then there is Federer, who really had to hold on just to make it to the third round here in Sydney. He admitted that he was absolutely terrified to get knocked out in the second round on the Aussie Open by Gilles Simon, but it really nearly happened. After storming to wins of 6-2 and 6-3 in the first two sets, Federer took his foot off the gas pedal and was knocked off 6-4 and 6-4 in the next two sets, setting up the finale in the fifth. It wasn’t an overly difficult set for the Swiss champ, but the mere fact that he needed that fifth set was a shock. Federer also dispatched Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in a significantly easier opening match of this tournament. Federer has always played well here, especially on Rod Laver Court where he will be playing this afternoon. Over the course of the last seven years, Federer has four championships, a runner up finish, and two semifinal appearances. This would have been the earlier knockout in his career had Simon finished him off in the second round.

We know that these types of numbers are just ridiculous to lay, but we really have no choice but to do so. Federer isn’t losing this match one out of 30 times, but more importantly, Malisse, who has a dreadful record here down under, isn’t winning it one out of 20 times. Federer is our Australian Open pick for Friday.

Australian Open Free Pick: Roger Federer -2850 at BetPhoenix

King Cakes: A New Orleans tradition makes its way to Toledo.

The Blade (Toledo, OH) January 17, 2006 Byline: Kathie Smith Jan. 17–King Cakes long associated with Mardi Gras are relatively new to the Midwest. They are more popular the farther south you go, but that may be changing.

“They are catching on more each year,” says Andy Haas of Haas Bakery in Oregon. “The Retail Bakers of America have been trying to promote the cakes.” And Haas Bakery is among the Ohio bakers, including those at The Andersons and Servatii Pastry Shops of Cincinnati, who bake and sell King Cakes to interested Ohioans.

This year, Mr. Haas and his father, Dennis, now semiretired, have been baking and selling King Cakes since Jan. 6, Epiphany. As is the custom, they will sell the cakes throughout the period of Mardi Gras until the day before Ash Wednesday, when the Lenten season begins.

Epiphany is referred to as the 12th day of Christmas or the King’s Day. Twelfth night is the celebrating of the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ child. It marks the start of the carnival season that runs through Fat Tuesday, which also is known as Shrove Tuesday.

According to one version of King Cake history, French settlers brought this tradition to New Orleans. The cake dates back to the 12th century, when people feasted on round cakes that resembled the modern version. The cakes were eaten on King’s Day and soon the Feast of the Epiphany developed into a major holiday complete with a royal theme celebrated throughout France. Shortly after, a tiny bean was put into the dough before the cake was baked. The bean was eventually replaced by the modern-day plastic baby to symbolize the baby Jesus whom the three kings or wise men were going to see. King Cake is now served throughout the entire carnival season. go to website king cake recipe

In the New Orleans tradition, King Cake consists of a rich dough that is baked and topped with icing and sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power). The decoration has been called gaudy by some, but it is a much appreciated tradition by those who love it.

Haas bakers also add the yellow, green, and purple beaded necklaces, and plastic coins to the decoration.

Many King Cakes are made plain, but can have fillings. Haas Bakery has lemon and raspberry with cream cheese, apricot, blueberry, cinnamon, and others. The 20-ounce cake costs $13.95 and serves 12 to 15 people; the 40-ounce cake costs $21.95 and serves 24 to 30 people. Mr. Haas recommends that customers order a King Cake in advance, then serve it the day it is baked.

Today many bakers are worried about liability and thus will not put the tiny plastic baby in the cake for fear that a consumer will choke on it. Thus, bakers – including those at Haas – put the plastic toy on top of the cake. go to site king cake recipe

The Andersons bake shops use a cinnamon yeast dough, according to Dianne Shomody, deli and bakery buyer. “It is frosted with white icing and sprinkled with colored sugars – green, purple, and yellow. They throw in a necklace and a plastic baby so the buyer can hide the baby in the King Cake,” she says.

After Feb. 1, King Cakes may be special ordered at The Andersons in the Toledo area 24 to 48 hours in advance. But they will be on the shelf at The Andersons Feb. 24 to March 4. “Our Columbus stores sell them year round,” says Ms. Shomody. “It’s a trend that’s moving north.” King Cakes are very familiar on the Bowling Green State University campus, according to Chef Sonja Kehr of the university’s food operations.

“We often make them from scratch and they are used at various catering events and our retail operation and restaurant,” she says.

New Orleans bakeries have long shipped King Cakes throughout the United States for those longing for a taste of the tradition, writes Linda Stradley in I’ll Have What They’re Having: Legendary Local Cuisine (The Globe Pequot Press, $18.95). Originally objects such as coins, beans, pecans, and peas were hidden inside King Cakes. Wealthy plantation owners in the late 1800s sometimes put a precious stone or jewel in the King Cake.

“The recipient of the plastic baby is ‘crowned’ king or queen for the day and are obligated to host the following year’s party,” she writes. She dates the tradition to the French settlers in New Orleans around 1870. Ms. Stradley includes a New Orleans King Cake recipe in her cookbook iced with Lemon Frosting and sprinkled with colored sugars. She does not use a filling in the recipe.

When The Blade tested the recipe, it produced a “huge” cake. Although it was best when served warm, the leftovers could be used to make great French toast.

Father Dominic Garramone, host of the Public Television series Breaking Bread with Father Dominic and author of the companion cookbooks, developed another version of King Cake.

Noting that King Cake recipes and customs are as diverse as the cultures of the world, he drew his inspiration for the dough from the orange and spices flavors of Spain. He uses a mixture of cardamom and nutmeg in a sweet moist sour cream dough spiked with orange zest. The sweet surprise inside is 11 chocolate-covered almonds evenly distributed throughout the cake. In the 12th piece is a single coin or trinket carefully wrapped in parchment paper.

“This was my own invention,” he said of the chocolate filling in a phone interview from his office at the St. Bede Abbey in Peru, Ill. He also used rapid-rise yeast, which is designed for higher temperatures (120 to 130 degrees) compared to the 110 to 115-degree temperature and instant active dry yeast used by Ms. Stradley in her recipe. He noted that richer doughs like the sour cream dough in his recipe sometimes take longer to rise and that they should always rise in a warm and protected place like the inside of an oven with a pilot light.

Another unique feature is the pull-apart “crown” form made from 12 separate pieces of dough. Use a ring mold to hold the pieces together as they rise into a golden crown in the oven. The cake is brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar. Candied cherries or gumdrop “jewels” are affixed to each point of the crown.

The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook by Brinna B. Sands (Countryman Press, $24) also has a recipe for Twelfth Night Cake. It is described as a variation of a pound cake (no yeast) that is rich in butter, honey, and eggs. With the honey as an ingredient, the cake bakes more slowly at a lower temperature of 300 degrees. It is baked in a Bundt pan.

Kathie Smith is The Blade’s food editor.

Contact her at: or 419-724-6155.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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