Oh, hi. Are you still out there? Oh, right, it’s the middle of a holiday weekend and you’re probably a) at the beach, b) sleeping on a hammock in a backyard or c) taking one of those media breaks the kids are so into these days. And believe it or not, I had a few days off too.
Celebration Cakes Archive
That’s right, folks. The. Cake. Is. Baked. I mean, sure, it’s not filled. Heck, I haven’t even tracked down Indian or Philippine mangoes yet, bought the chocolate for the ganache filling or successfully tackled Swiss Buttercream, but we’ve got time for all that–FOUR WHOLE DAYS in fact. Pshaw, it should be nothing at all.
Last weekend, I baked three birthday cakes. One of my mother’s oldest friends was turning 65, and when she mentioned that she was going to order the cake for her birthday party from a bakery, I had to object. People, when I turn 65 someone better bake me a homemade cake, is all I am saying. I think the very least someone deserves for hitting such a fine age with style is a friend, elbows-deep in flour, frosting and devotion.
Last month, someone emailed me to ask how I’d suggest she adapt the Icebox Cake to feed 30 to 40 people. Anyone who has ever emailed me to ask me a question before probably knows what happened next: I answered at least 10 (cough 20) days after the fact. Nevertheless, she assured me that she’d scaled it just fine and her husband and hers joint birthday part was wonderful, or at least I think this is what she said because I do not remember a single word that passed between us after she uttered what have to be the four most beautiful words in the dessert lexicon: Hazelnut. Brown. Butter. Cake.
There is a certain kind of cake so ubiquitous in grocery store checkout lanes, beneath lottery-stickered counters in bodegas and beckoning to office workers in a 3 p.m. slump through vending machine window and so lodged in American nostalgia that I am always surprised that more people don’t make it at home. I’m talking about a Ding Dong. Or a King Don. Or a Ring Ding. Confused yet? You’re not alone.
I can’t believe I haven’t told you yet about this Key Lime Cheesecake; I have some nerve, don’t I? And I suppose I could get into its texture (dreamy), flavor (bright and promising), topping (thin strips of mango tossed in lime juice) but it wouldn’t be honest of me, as I really only made these for one reason last weekend. Take a look at this bottle; could there be a more enticing Wish You Were Here sign? I take one look at it and just want to yell: I’m coming for you!
Last Saturday was my darling Jocelyn’s birthday and you just know I wasn’t going to even think about showing up without birthday cake. Fortunately, just about everyone we know agrees that two of the best desserts on earth are cannolis from Venieros on First Avenue and homemade tiramisu. I was actually kind of obsessed with figuring out a way to make a cannoli cake, but in the end copped out, not feeling daring enough to invent a recipe and having waited until the very last minute (3 p.m.) to actually start baking.
Not for the first or last time, Dorie Greenspan came to the rescue. As if Baking: From My Home to Yours wasn’t awesome enough, it actually includes two cake sections, one devoted solely to “Celebration Cakes,” or the exact type you’d want to bring to a birthday party. But all are so much more exciting than just yellow cake and butter cream frosting, such as Black and White Chocolate Cake, Big Carrot Cake, Perfect Party Cake and Tiramisu Cake. I stopped right there, and started this: