Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cakes! Birthdays!

Birthdays need cake!  Without a cake, you don't actually age.  Meg and I are both known for our birthday cakes; hers are delicious and lovely, mine are delicious and interesting.  

A few years back, Meg made a birthday cake for her brother.  It was eaten with abandon amidst a table of friends wearing dresses and ties.  Frosting was licked from lips and no one noticed whose cheeks were smeared with chocolate because our eyes were focused on cake-laden forks making their way to our partially open mouths.  Eating is a sensually destructive process, and yet we do it in front of our loved ones.  Here's a picture of Jason's birthday cake prior to being destroyed by mastication.

A few months later, in celebration of Elisabeth's birthday, Meg and I came together and baked our first cake as a team.  Elisabeth had one request; no cashew frosting.  These two birds built a three layer lemon sponge cake that was cushioned with a fresh lemon curd, and frosted with a lemon cream cheese frosting.  The decorative element of stained glass lemon was achieved by dipping slices of lemon in sugar and then letting the crystals melt in the heat of an oven.  

Baking together for the first time, like any first-time activity, was an awkward but loving experience for these two birds.  Putting two people together in the kitchen is no different than putting two people together in a bathtub, except that you keep your clothes on and come out dirty rather than clean.  But it's still an exercise in learning how to maneuver.  We learned it that day, and it showed in our masterpiece. 

A few months after our inaugural experience as kitchen companions, Meg and I made a birthday cake for our dear friend Joshua Brownfield Jones (boyfriend of Elisabeth).  We were regaled with tales about the dessert deficiencies of his childhood birthdays.  You see, Josh's birthday is only four days later than his older brother's birthday.  As lore goes, Jeremy's birthday was celebrated with a Cookie Monster cake, and Josh's birthday was celebrated with the remains.  Was the belly of the monster redecorated to resemble a newly formed cookie monster head? That seems to be the tale that I remember.  Two years ago, Meg and I made Josh his very own, red velvet birthday cake in the shape of none other than the Cookie Monster muppet.  He was pleased. 

He has cupcakes for eyes!
These two birds bake incredible cakes together.  However, when left to my own devices, the birthday cakes I bake tend to require a patch or bandage.  These stitches become avenues to elaborate changes in the look of the cake.  

My step-dad, pictured with me below, turned 73 yesterday. 

Fall 2010 (Tom's eyes are rarely open in photos)

In celebration of his birthday, I made Tom a cake.  Two thick layers of silken chocolate, that emitted an alluring "squish" when you bit into it, were held together by a vegan chocolate ganache and frosted with a traditional buttercream frosting.  Due to a hot house, and a little impatience on my part, part of the cakes stuck to the pans which resulted in separation and slipping.  I considered holding the cake together with my hands all night, but figured asking guests  to lick the frosting from my fingers may have made some folks uncomfortable.  The solution was to build a wall of chocolate bars around the perimeter of the cake.  The dollops of ganache capped off by enlarged spice drops are purely decorative; there was nothing structural in that decision.  


Enjoy the eye-pleasure that comes with fixing your mistakes.  It make the stumbles seem more like flips rather than falls.  Happy Birthday to All!!

~ Trilety

1 comment:

  1. Oh, dear lord, that lemon cake! You two birds created for me was so absolutely amazing. Truly perfect! It **might** have even been better than the peanut butter pie you made for my 25th.
    Love the chocolate walls for the birthday boy yesterday. Very smart. While there's certainly some science behind baking, I love that you're never afraid to break/make the rules as you go along. :)