“A party without cake is really just a meeting.” – Julia Child
I couldn’t agree more. I honestly can’t think of anything I’d rather eat than a delicious, freshly baked slice of old-fashioned cake. I say that because I am a purist — just a piece with two (or three) layers nestled with buttercream icing, which is also thickly swirled on top.
No fondant for me.
Now that’s not to say that I would turn down most other types of desserts, one reason Weight Watchers and I have been joined at the hip over the years.
I began my love affair with cakes at a very early age. I know that most people had a “milkman,” but growing up in Detroit, we also had a “breadman.” He came a few days a week with his big tray which also contained cake – often a famous Detroit confection known as “bumpy cake.” It was to die for – chocolate through and through with thick, white buttercream icing.
Our own bakery where my sisters and I made elaborate Play Doh cakes was the back-up band to actually baking real cakes in our tiny kitchen and then selling them to the neighbors. (When our mom found out, she always made us give the money back.)
Don’t tell anyone I said this, but my favorite cakes are the ones I bake. Not because they are award winning or even particularly beautiful, I just truly love the process and (usually) the end result. I enjoy reading cookbooks (as you know) and food magazines, making a list of my ingredients, assembling my mise en place and then the actual baking becomes therapeutic.
At my age, I would probably be better off with yoga, but…
My cakes are always a bit scoliotic (as am I. Coincidence? Maybe.)
I’m not the best with intricate decorations so I usually turn to toppings like fresh flowers (of the non-poisonous varieties) or something fun — the last cake I made recently for a friend’s birthday was a leaning tower of coconut and I covered the top with plastic palm trees. It’s amazing what you can find on Amazon.
I just adore the ingredients and savor a big whiff of some of my faves as I bake. Nothing like the smell of pure Madagascar vanilla or Saigon cinnamon, fresh lemon juice, butter browning. I’m seriously gaining weight just writing this.
My favorite baking reaction was my granddaughter when she and I made a cake together for the first time. I left her alone, standing on her stool, wearing her little apron with a giant bowl of the softest just sifted flour, for no more than a minute and when I came back she was literally bathing in it.
“Oh, Nana, this is just so fluffy and beautiful!”
Luckily, I had enough flour to start over while she finished her “swim.”
To me, especially, growing up in a family where food was front and foremost at every gathering, cake just completes the celebration. I have to admit, I am (maybe more than) a little bit disappointed when I go to a birthday or wedding and the dessert is something current or chichi and there is no cake.
But, alas, back to reality for now. Today, lunch will be a sensible apple, a small piece of cheese and a sweet day dream of my next “meeting” and how I will turn it into a party.