There’s nothing I like better than inserting myself into someone else’s special event. But I have a pretty good excuse. As an extrovert who is also unfortunately awkward socially, I love going to parties but struggle to enjoy myself because half the time I can’t hear the other person over the voice in my head going, “You’re talking about yourself again. Is her name Heather or Michelle? You should have worn the other earrings.” I just recently figured out that I do much better at social events if I have a job, task or role. Then as long as I’m taking the coats or washing the dishes or whatever, I can make conversation without feeling like a total dummy.
So if you invite me to a party, you can bet I’m going to volunteer to bake! And this spring, my lovely friend Elaine is getting married and she’s agreed to let me bake a cake for her and her husband-to-be to cut. Hooray! So now instead of trying to figure out how to be a good listener, remember people’s names and perfectly accessorize, I’m going to be making a (hopefully) exquisite and occasion-appropriate cake. Win-win!
Elaine is very chill and gave me free reign, which initially sounded like a dream come true but It turns out that my ADD brain doesn’t do well with free reign. In the space of a week, I had made sketches of like 10 cakes. One was a black and gold swan-themed that required 3D-printing some molds and stencils, one had geodes made of rock candy on it (decided against that because the geode cakes I saw on google had a distinctly anatomical vibe), one involved hand painting portraits of the couple in a 70’s style inspired by Free To Be You and Me (I do not know how to paint). Gah! So. Many. Ideas. I finally decided I was going to order some fancy edible gold leaf and mess around with it. I had also ordered some giant gold sprinkles with no clue how I was going to use them. So I decided to just throw some cake layers in the oven and try to cook something up with what I had on hand. That’s my kind of baking!
First step, box of yellow cake mix because for some reason I will do an insane amount of work to create perfect frostings, etc. but get real resentful when I have to make a cake from scratch. You gotta draw the line somewhere. For the frosting I decided to make a custard-based buttercream called German Buttercream. I especially love this version, which adds some earl grey and mascarpone. I just made a half batch since I decided to fill the layers with some lemon curd I had in the freezer. I also had some earl grey meringues left over from my bumper crop of meringues from last week. Score! I got the gold leaf on there. Actually I got most of it stuck to my fingers, apparently you’re not supposed to touch it.
And this is what I ended up with. A cake that looks like the moon, or concrete, or some kind of spaceship that got transmogrified into a cake. Do you guys know about the starchips they’re hoping to send to Alpha Centauri? This is a cake version of that I guess. For Elaine, I think I’ll plan to go bolder and brighter with the color scheme, but at least now I know I can come up with something I like on the fly. I’m much better improvising in the kitchen than I am in conversation so if you overhear me at the wedding droning on and on about Alpha Centauri and Dyson spheres (I am a full-on nerd burger), please help a girl out and give me something useful to do.