Cooking & Eating

Birthday Cake

pumpkinI always gain weight in October.

It’s getting colder. The oven warms the house. The smell of fresh baked bread masks the fact that you haven’t opened the windows in days.

Go to the pumpkin patch. Have some cider. Have some candy corn and pumpkin pie. Festive, festive, festive.

And then it’s my birthday. Two days later, my husband’s birthday. It’s the weekend of two birthday cakes.

Three cakes now. A friend’s baby shares my husband’s birthday and his mama is an excellent baker.

But this year, I’ve been losing. Six pounds in a month, and not due to dieting–just a general busy-ness (business? a business busy-ness, anyway) and the fact that yes, you can survive on a 90% coffee diet.

Wanting to keep up the trend, I decided I wouldn’t have a cake this year. Ian can have one, and if we make it to the kiddo’s birthday party I’ll have a slice of his (because come on–you can’t skip one of his mama’s cakes).

That decision didn’t last very long.

It’s my birthday (almost), dammit, and if I want to make a cake I’m going to make one. Because for me, birthday cake isn’t just about having a tasty treat. If it were, I’d pick up a cake at a bakery. No–I love making the cake. I love having a reason to make a cake. I love having a reason to try something new.

For a couple years now, I’ve been wanting to make a Swedish princess cake. If you’ve ever seen the season of The Great British Baking Show (Bake Off) with Martha and Richard and Luis, you know what that is. Likewise, if you’ve ever had one of the pretty pink domed cakes at IKEA, which is a simplified version. It’s a very complicated recipe but nothing an experienced baker can’t handle, and while I love the traditional vanilla and fruit flavor of it, it occurred to me that the decoration of it could easily look like a pumpkin. And I had some pumpkin caramel in the fridge I could use (because I’m the kind of person who keeps homemade caramel sauce on hand) and then I’d just need a pumpkin pastry cream, some whipped cream, a spiced genoise, and to whip up some marzipan. And yes, I have all the ingredients for all these things in my house right now and I didn’t have to go to the store. Cuz I’m crazy like that.

So I whipped up (pardon the baking pun) a nice genoise with a little pumpkin spice thrown in, made a pumpkin custard, some whipped cream, colored a lump of marshmallow fondant green (I had homemade fondant in the fridge, too–don’t you?) made a maple marzipan and put it all together. I colored the marzipan orange but the maple flavoring I subbed in for vanilla made it a darker shade, so I also painted on some vodka and food coloring at the end to give it a shine and a little more orange. The boy helped me make the vines and voila!


She’s not the world’s prettiest princess–some of the cream leaked out the sides, the marzipan isn’t perfectly smooth and the vines were crafted mainly by a four-year-old, but in the end it really is what’s inside that counts, right? And what’s inside is AWESOME. And it was fun to make. And it looks kind of pumpkin-y.

Let the weight gain begin.

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