I am not a professional pastry chef or baker, or even a very good cook for that matter. But I had this idea…. It was my husband’s birthday and in trying to think of something special to do for him— I decided, “I’ll make him 40 cakes—in 40 days.” Since I love cake, I thought this would be the best gift ever- but after giving it some thought, I realized that he wouldn’t appreciate it. 40 steaks in 40 days maybe, but not cakes. So the idea was shelved. (He got bacon wrapped steaks for his birthday and an ice cream cake from Cold Stone.)
Lately though, it keeps popping back into my head. Maybe it is the fact that I am reading Julie/Julia (the adventures of a woman attempting to cook French food over the course of a year), that the holidays are looming and sweets are on my mind, or that I recently read an old college friends blog about pies and felt inspired or that I just need a creative outlet (an issue that I’ll touch upon later)…..Whatever the reason, I have decided to start NOW-ish.
How is a working mother of two, with a husband in an intense full-time computer animation art program, going to have time to make a cake everyday for the next forty days and still train for a marathon, take the kids to soccer/ballet/play dates, plan travel adventures, buy groceries, clean the house, and keep her sanity?
Well, it may be impossible. I do have two little kitchen helpers to ease the burden and perform taste testing duties and they have to eat, right?
But, this little blog will document my making 40 cakes (maybe more if I feel so inclined). If it takes longer than 40 days—that’s OK with me. And in between cake baking, I will post about cakes and other special sweets– so keep checking back. (You know, I do always bake Christmas cookies—Do I hear a Christmas Cookie Challenge?)
How do I decide which cakes to make?
I am a planner –and that has kept me from starting this little project because I can’t decide which cakes to make. There are so many options and when I search the internet and other cool food blogs—-there are so many that sound interesting—way more than 40.
I thought about starting with some old family favorites, like my grandma’s Barbara Mandrell Cake.
Every weekend and every special holiday we would go to my grandma’s house and I specifically remember her love for Willie Nelson (until she found out that he smoked pot) and this cake. This cake was so good and my mom would sit at the table eating slice after slice of cake (more on this later). But, the cake is made with pre-packaged cake mix, pudding, and Cool Whip. Not exactly made from the finest, wholesome ingredients that I usually try to feed my family—so it doesn’t make the cake list. (I may have to make the Barbara Mandrell cake for my mom who will be visiting next week because once I mentioned it, she started raving about how good it was. I’ll keep you posted.)
So here are the qualifications for cakes on my list:
1) Must be able to be made from whole ingredients (flour, sugar, eggs, fine chocolate, perfect fruits etc).
2) Simple in form and traditional in nature. You know, the classics. (No cakes made to look like a storm-trooper.)
3) It would be nice if there is some family/friend connection.
4) Cakes that push my comfort level-both in creating and eating…for example, cakes with fruit in them or odd cake ingredients. (I just saw a recipe for a chocolate-bacon cupcake which would fit into this category but I am not going to make it since I don’t eat meat. But you get the idea.)
My list begins with:
1) Dump It Cake –I heard this recipe on NPR about four years ago and immediately went out and bought a Bundt cake pan and a ton of semi-sweet chocolate. I have made this cake before and I did love it….but it is time consuming and requires nice ingredients and would be the perfect way to start off my little project. Right?
I’ll be adding to this list. Any suggestions?