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.
Celebration Cakes Archive
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:
I know people are prone to wild disagreements over Food Network personality Paula Deen. Sure, some gush that she is a “hot-damn pistol” and exactly like their “favorite aunt, who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her” even at the expense of their readership and others think she’s just hated on because she’s a successful woman, most people cast a far less sympathetic glance in her direction, if not for her Big Pork connections, then for her Fried Butter Balls, seen as her obvious attempt to “kill us all.”
My in-laws had their 35th anniversary this past week, and if you’ve been taking notes up until now (though why would you) you can imagine that this only created one requirement whichever dessert I brought to a barbeque this weekend: chocolate. Also, if it could have chocolate on top of that chocolate, it would be good too. And did we mention chocolate? Because we’re really into chocolate, and no amount of chocolate would be too much. This guy I married, who thinks that there are few higher kitchen callings than a chocolate-crusted, ganache-coated cheesecake with cubes of brownies inside? He didn’t develop this obsession in a vacuum.