I love cakes, particularly grand layer cakes that can be cut open to reveal strata of frosting and fillings. I’m always a bit disappointed in anyone who doesn’t want a birthday cake, claiming a preference for ice cream cakes, or pies, or some other alternative dessert. (Apologies to all my family members who fit in this category). Which probably helps explain a little why I make my own birthday cakes.
Despite the reactions this statement often garners, it isn’t from any stuck-up notion that I’m the only one who can make good cake, or because there isn’t anyone around willing to make me a cake. I feel no cake oppression. I also tend to make cake for other people’s birthdays. And weddings. And random movie nights. And assorted other cake worthy events. Between the people I know and my stints in the professional pastry world, I’ve had the opportunity to make at lot of cakes in the past ten years. But my birthday is my chance to cobble together all the flavors, techniques, and textures that I have been hoarding in my head, waiting for a chance to experiment with.
Sometimes this works out well, sometimes the result tastes not so amazing, and sometimes it’s everything I was dreaming. Okay, so I imagine that one day I will make a cake that’s everything I was dreaming of. I don’t think it’s happened yet, but I’m not bothered by this missing achievement.
It actually fits well with a quote I read recently, “have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it anyways.” It’s possible to read that pessimistically, I know, but I appreciate the idea that there will always be something more to strive toward. Absolute perfection seems like something that has to be left alone and I like poking at things and adjusting this and modifying that. Sometimes I have to be reminded to work toward perfection instead of just bouncing from project to project, but I think the knowledge from a million different tasks can all come together to help create something that may not be perfect, but is better than it would have been before.
So I count this year’s Brown Butter Maple Pear Spice Cake with Coffee Cream Cheese Cardamom Frosting a success. And since it was eaten down to the last crumb in less than a week, I think everyone who got a chance at it agrees.
And now I get to sit here and decide what kind of cake to make next.