Another Day in the Country
A 240-point cake
© Another Day in the Country
For the last seven or eight months, cake has not been part of my regular diet.
I’ve eaten bushels of veggies and fruit, package after package of low-calorie string cheese, more chicken and beef than I really wanted (for protein), and dozens of farm fresh eggs; but all those dessert items like pie, ice cream, and cake have NOT been on the list for regular consumption.
So, when a celebratory occasion comes along — like a birthday, for instance — the choice of a CAKE is not a hasty decision, nor do the ingredients come from a box.
My sister loves to make dessert and she has the tools and the recipe books to help her. Before any occasion that feels even slightly festive, she pulls out her cookbooks and begins to hunt for something to inspire her.
Thus began the search for just the right cake for our friend, Michaela’s, birthday.
This can be quite a trick. The ingredients have to be available in the local grocery. Michaela is what I’d call a “gourmet” cook, so Red Velvet cake is not going to do the job. The cake needs to be something that Jess can get excited about — meaning it’s somewhat of a challenge to create, and she’s probably never made it before.
Once she’s made the cake, or the salad, or the casserole from one of her recipe books, she meticulously records in the margin of the book: the date, who she had made it for, and if it was any good!
My mother used to be aghast when we’d start pouring through our recipe book for ideas of what to make for guests. She would never have made an untried recipe for what she called “company.” Only her tried-and-true dishes would be put out on her table.
“How can you take the chance?” she wondered.
“Our friends love experiencing new dishes,” we assured her.
The hunt was on, and Jess sent me text messages with pictures of delicious cakes. We conferred and finally settled on this beautiful cake that resembled a delicate flower.
The theme for the birthday meal we were planning was “sunflowers.” The picture of the finished cake looked a little sunflower-ish, so that would work. The first layer was a white cake, and the next layer was white chocolate mousse, which sounded exotic. You had to do something with clear lemon flavored gelatin on top, which presented a challenge, and then rim the top edge with slices of fresh kiwi, which was healthy. What more could one ask for?
This cake was beautiful! Envision the bottom layer of white cake, then white chocolate mousse, then a quarter inch layer of tart lemon gelatin, rimmed with kiwi and frosted with whip cream on the sides.
Do you have the picture? Is your mouth watering?
After the meal and the candle lighting and the singing of “Happy Birthday,” Jess cut into the cake and handed out slices of picture-perfect cake. I noticed that she cut my piece and hers smaller than the others. I knew why but I didn’t know the extent of her caution.
“A slice of that cake had more calories in it than you consume in three regular (weight watching) meals,” she said to me after the guests were gone.
But it was so good. Unusually delicious — maybe because we’ve been counting calories and not eating sweets for months.
I’m still thinking about that bottom layer of rich, moist, white cake. The next layer was so delicate. (White chocolate is not a dominate flavor but it was enhanced by orange juice in the mousse — which was like eating velvet). And then you got a bite of fresh, sweet, beautiful, green, kiwi fruit with that sharp tang of the lemon topping, wound together with whipped cream. AHHHHHHhhhhh, heavenly.
And I’m not really a “cake” person. Cherry pie is my favorite dessert.
“Where is the rest of that cake?” I asked my sister after the guests had gone home.
I thought surely she would have put a piece or two in reserve since we’d hardly dented the cake.
“Oh, I didn’t want you to be tempted, so, I sent it all home with Michaela so she can give it to her friends,” my list-making, calorie-counting, temptation-removing, cake-baking sister said, on another day in the country.