Thursday, September 23

let's talk about cake

Bad cake is depressing.  Let's talk about good cake.

Raphael vaguely mumbled something the other day about how maybe he would make me a birthday cake this year.  And then an alien exploded out of his chest and a city bus careened through the living room window and Lila turned into a giant hamster and caught on fire.

Okay, I'm exaggerating about many of those things.  But it's true what he said about the cake.  And I was shocked because the last time I remember Raphael baking something, it was "OLD-FASHIONED SUGAR COOKIES" from my Tasty Church Cooking book, compiled in support of the Caring Capital Campaign by the ladies of the Whatsoever Club of the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Norton, Mass., and subsequently given to me by my nana who does not live in Norton, attend the Trinitarian Congregational Church, or belong to the Whatsoever Club.

And it was almost four years ago. 

And they came out like this:

So I can't help but worry about what Raphael could do to a cake.  Think of the parts!  The layers!  The frosting! The decorative items that go on top!  All that stacking business and the smoothing of the icing and the careful placement of the glittery colored sugar and the respect that a birthday cake demands!  Not to mention the candles!  And the dacquoise!

Also, I traditionally get to research and pick out my birthday cake.  That's my thing that I do.  I can pick out the most complicated thing I want because I'm the one making it.  Zero guilt.   Past cakes have therefore included: 

- The 2006 Flourless Chocolate Cake of Death That Almost Killed Us All and included not only enough chocolate to initiate actual heart palpitations in the birthday girl and at least two innocent bystanders, but also chiles and figs

- The Chocolate Hazelnut Raspberry Torte of 2007.  Chocolate.  Hazelnuts.  Raspberries.  Need I say more?

- The 2008 Golden Grand Marnier Cake which was a sour cream butter cake made with orange zest, ground almonds, and bittersweet chocolate all soaked in a Grand Marnier Syrup and finished with a Chocolate Cream Glaze. 

- The Mystery Cake of 2009, which was so good that I can't remember making or eating it.  This one's going to be a tough act to follow.

Raphael hasn't seen my list of cake options yet, but he looked distinctly haunted when I asked if I still get to pick out what I want even if he's making it.  He knows by now, I guess, that my choice is statistically unlikely to be a plain yellow sheetcake with a simple and elegant sprinkling of confectioner's sugar in lieu of frosting.  In fact, the one I'm leaning towards involves peanut butter mousse, a layer of homemade caramel, creme fraiche, and friggin' ganache. 

I bet he's wishing right about now that that alien in his chest had kept its trap shut.

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