Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake – and Pies, and Tarts…

I’m a big believer in the joy of cooking. I have to be! Goodness knows I’m not the tidiest housekeeper ever. Both of my parents are meticulously organized keep their house spotless to the point that the tops of their ceiling fans could pass a white-glove test any day of the week.

In fact, I have a bit of a complex about how I inexplicably missed the cleanliness gene. The moderate germaphobe gene, however, I got. It doesn't compute. Elevator buttons, shopping cart handles, laminated menus and the like give me the heeby-jeebies because of all the pernicious microbes undoubtedly harbored by these surfaces. Then I found out from my colleague Alison yesterday that even my own wet laundry could be a disease carrier.

But I digress.

My point is, since my house never seems to be as spic-and-span as I’d like it to be, I have to play up my strengths. Baking happens to be one of them, and cakes are a particular forte. Brad and I celebrated his mother’s birthday yesterday at Mattito’s in Uptown, and the birthday-cake-baking honor fell to me. I’m not a huge chocoholic unless it’s DARK chocolate. The darker the better. So knowing Teresa’s love for the dark master, the cocoa bean, I created my most chocolatey confection to date. It was a dark chocolate layer cake with real fudge icing, chocolate ganache filling, and chocolate-covered cocoa beans on top. (The word "ganache" always makes me think of Stephanie's wedding, since Taylor's groom's cake was covered in chocolate ganache, which Stephanie described as "magic chocolate icing." So true.) I hope you don’t mind allowing me to indulge in a little show-and-tell:

(Love the Crate and Barrel cake dome and foot too. A wedding gift, naturally.)

The night before my birthday last year, I determined to make my own birthday cake. Pathetic? Perhaps. But it gets worse. I had decided on a pineapple cheesecake (combining two of God’s greatest inventions) and set about my mise en place. I had gotten no further than melting the butter when, through an uncanny series of events, I ended up with second-degree burns across my abdomen. I won’t go into details except to say that scalding butter + laundry night = pas bon.

This year I had more luck. Here’s my birthday cake from last month, before I dressed it with gobs and gobs of cream cheese frosting. The photo was taken from my phone. This was my own recipe, three layers of yellow cake with a pastry cream filling and chopped fresh strawberries mixed in:

Now the birthday cake I made my mom. It was a coconut cake with white lemon buttercream frosting and strawberries for garnish:

Last winter I got a case of cabin fever and decided to make a super summery cake. I love coming up with my own recipes, as I did with my birthday cake this year. The next photo shows one of my more successful dabblings. To fight some cold weather blues, I created this lemon cake with raspberry filling and orange zest buttercream icing. Summer heaven:

And a final Katie-penned recipe. This pear and almond tart had the richest, most gloriously spicy glaze and a chewy cream cheese dough crust. The perfect fall comfort food:

I owe much of my lovin’ of the oven to the Thorne women. Three generations of bakers:


Meagan said...

yummy! You are making my mouth water, stop it! Can you come make me something sweet? I love me some cake! :) Remember that cool King Cake? :)

Abby said...

I'm going back and commenting all the thoughts I had last night after reading your posts. :-) Your cakes look absolutely delish. How did your mother in law like her coffee bean raspberry confection?

Stephanie said...

OH MY! Your cakes are tres jolie!!! That one for Meme's birthday looks especially delish! Coconut? mmmmyes. I think my love for coconut has gradually reached epic proportions, almost to the level of your love for pineapple.

What a good baker, you are, friend! I can see you with your own little patisserie one day, whipping up delicious confections all day long!