Never answer the phone when you're cooking. This rule can save a lot of heartache, such as the sight of Sam's comically deflated birthday cake a few minutes after I pulled it out of the oven. I had been chatting with a friend, and when the oven's timer went off I quickly whipped the cake out of the oven, then crashed around in the cupboard trying to find a rack to put it on. What had been a light-as-air sponge ended up looking like a party hat that someone had stepped on.
Not one to be deterred by baking failures, I turned to a recipe in Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book Baking from my home to yours. Dorie's recipes have never, ever let me down and the vanilla buttermilk cake that serves as the base for her Black-and-White Chocolate Cake is not the kind of sponge that collapses at the slightest shock. I didn't have time to make the dark chocolate and white chocolate creams, so stuck with my original plan of filling and topping the cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Simplest is best for a children's birthday party, I decided.
I also went against convention and replaced the usual bowls of candies and chips with crudités and fresh fruit. As I cut the vegetables and fruit, I couldn't help asking myself if I was wasting my time. It was gratifying to see the children (well, some of them at least) pounce on these with almost as much enthusiasm as they showed for my chocolate chip cookies. Most of these kids had never tasted chocolate chip cookies before. The unanimous verdict? "J'adore ça."
The more substantial vanilla cake worked well with the strawberries and cream, reminding me a bit of strawberry shortcake. Certainly, there were no complaints from any of the children or adults present. They almost gobbled it all up before Sam - who was distracted by his new Pokemon cards - remembered to have a slice.
As for the flattened cake, I didn't let it go to waste. The next day, I layered thin slices of it with strawberries mixed with a little sugar and mint, leftover strawberry coulis from my cooking class, and extra whipped cream from the cake to make a sort of trifle which I presented to my neighbour Marie as "an English dessert." She not only raved about it but asked me for the recipe, which from her is the ultimate compliment.
5 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
I do love your new fresh look. The banner that you friend designed is just perfect!
yes, I concur with you about keeping it simple with children's birthday parties.
Have a nice weekend, Nora
p/s; I've already updated the new link for your blog on my blog.
Your new look has such whimsical charm, I'm really enjoying it, Rosa. There's really nothing better than simplicity. Had you made this sponge in a Maryann pan, it would be the ideal strawberry shortcake adorned with just cream and berries -- for kids of all ages. Belated best wishes for Sam's birthday.
Thanks Susan, I'm glad you like it! You know, I didn't know what a Maryann pan was and had to look it up... now I need one. Merci from Sam for the birthday wishes.