Monday, September 22, 2008
I offered to make my friend Paula a birthday cake, and asked what kind of cake she would like. "Bananas are nice", she said. "Pooh!" I said, "that's not very festive!" So having told her what she didn't want, after asking her what she did want, this is what we made. Unfortunately, it suffered a minor collapse during the afternoon, and you can see it's had to be pushed back up, but it was truly spectacular, all the same.
It was a classic joint enterprise. I used 15 egg whites, half a kilo of ground hazlenuts and four cake tins of three different sizes, and melted the chocolate, and mixed up the coffee-flavoured and sweetened cream, and sliced the strawberries, and then Paul assembled the layers of meringue, brushed them with (organic, free-trade, 70%) chocolate, and sandwiched them together with fruit and cream, in this wonderfully asymmetrical fantasy cake. It's a version of the recipe we associate with Christmas and birthdays in my family, but I've never seen it put together like this! And yes, there were bananas in some of the layers, too. I was the classic nay-sayer, when Paul started talking about turrets, but in fact, the highest point of the cake on the left, was the most successful: layers and layers of meringue and cream and chocolate.
We sat Paula behind the cake, on her red couch with the red wall behind her, and voilà! the beauteous vision in the photo. Happy birthday, dear friend!