Friday, July 13, 2007

Birthday Cake, Part II

In June, my colleague Rodney asked if I ever took commissions for cakes and, if so, would I be interested in making a birthday cake for his wife. He gave me her description of her ideal birthday cake, and Lora Brody's buttermilk chocolate cake (the one I'd recently made for my buddy Brendan) from Chocolate American Style was a perfect fit.

We had a nice bit of cool weather in early July, but then things turned -- right when I needed to be making this cake. Rodney needed the cake for July 10, and we were in the midst of a spell of brutal heat and humidity. I made the cake batter and portioned it for three layers. After the layers were baked off, I wrapped them and set them in the freezer for a day. The next evening, I made the white chocolate cream cheese frosting. In the late-day 90°F temps, the frosting wasn't even in the neighborhood of setting up to be spreadable. I popped it in the fridge, then went off to buy a nice box, a cardboard cake circle, and some doilies. I figured I'd assemble the whole thing the next morning.

The next day -- July 10 -- I took the cake layers out of the freezer before I went running, and I checked the frosting, which had thickened somewhat. I figured I was good to go. However, it didn't take more than 5 minutes out of the fridge for the frosting to become unworkable. I frosted between the layers, stacked them, then took off for work with the semi-assembled cake, the remainder of the frosting, and a small offset spatula. I put everything in the fridge there and let it sit for an entire day. Rodney needed the cake done by 5:30, so at 4:30, I zipped out to the kitchen and did a quick crumb coat, put the cake back in the fridge for a bit, then at 4:45, finished frosting it. I boxed it up and tucked it back in the fridge. (I very stupidly forgot to take a picture of it, but it looked fantastic.)

Before Rodney left the office for the day, I reminded him to keep the AC on full blast in the car and to put the cake in the fridge when he got home ASAP.

I have to admit that I thought this one was a lost cause, but it had a magically happy ending. Whew. By all accounts, Rodney's wife very much enjoyed the cake. As for me, I love this cake and this recipe, and I think that from now on, I'll save it for cooler weather.

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