Thursday, 29 January 2009

A month of Birthdays

January is always a month that is filled to the brim with birthdays, and for me that always means plenty of birthday cakes. In the last week I had to bake cakes for my husband, one of his work mates and one of our friends, and I was in seventh heaven! I love baking delicious, scrumptious and pretty cakes. The only problem I faced was choosing which of my 1001 recipes would best suit which birthday boy or girl.

My husband's one true food love is cheese, and so it was a natural choice to bake a lemon cheesecake for him. The base was a beautiful, crumbly mixture of digestive biscuits, soft butter and lemon zest, pressed into the bottom of the spring form tin. The cake itself was a glorious combination of rich double cream, smooth soft cheese, beautiful yellow organic eggs and even more lemon zest and a fresh squeeze of the juice. It might not have been the prettiest cake in the world, but topped with birthday candles and served with love, it was a real hit with all.

Next I was asked to bake a cake for one of the guys working with my husband, to be served to all of the boys at the workshop. This one was a bit trickier to choose, as there were many factors to consider here. Firstly, the guy whose birthday it was, had landed in hospital a few months ago after a heart attack and is on a very healthy diet, but still loves his chocolate. Secondly, the boss of the workshop has an extreme sweet tooth but oddly enough this is coupled with an aversion to chocolate. Lastly, there was my reputation to consider, this had to be a manly cake and yet still emanate all of my domestic goddessness. All of this brought me to a recipe for a plain buttermilk cake. Light, spongy and heart healthy , yet still sweet enough to even satisfy the boss. I baked it in a plain loaf pan, for it to be manly, and then adorned it with dark, melted chocolate and glistening red maraschino cherries for the feminine touch.

The last birthday cake I had baked was also by far my favourite. It was for one of my friends, who is a real girly girl, drinks sparkly drinks, a queen of accessorising and is a self-confessed chocoholic. Here, finally was my chance to get the creative juices flowing and to create something truly pretty. My first and most important task was to incorporate as much chocolate into this cake as I could. For this there is only one option: death-by-chocolate cupcakes. These amazing little cakes use the best cocoa powder, melted dark chocolate and beautiful bitter-sweet chocolate buttons. This is then topped with a darkly-delicious chocolate ganache-buttercream. Needles to say, this is not for the calorie-counting amongst us. To make these little cakes even more special, I took some inspiration from Nigella and topped them with dainty little wafer roses. As I placed the cake-plate in front of the waiting guests, an exited ripple of giggles escaped from them all. Ahh, how I love this feeling :)

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