Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baking Like A Rockstar

Music runs my life. 

It always has.

There is always a song in my head. Sometimes, it's a real song; other times, it's just a stream of notes that don't make sense. Those notes, whether organized or discombobulated, get me through the day, enable me to swim through it all, the good and the bad. They wake me up in the morning and put me to sleep at night.

I find the rhythm in the most mundane activities. I hear music when I type on my keyboard. I hear music in the beat of my feet as I walk. I hear it when my pen is scratching across the paper. I hear it in the buzz of the blender and the beating of the spatula. Sometimes, my stories come out with a particular rhythm. I hear stories in song lyrics. I actually prefer songs that have a story to tell, which is probably one reason why I'm partial to the music of the 60s and 70s. In my opinion, Paul Simon, John Lennon, and Sir Paul McCartney are right up there with Shel Silverstein and Stephen King in the world of storytellers.

Does it surprise you, then, that I’m with the band?

Last Saturday was the guitarist's birthday. What would I do other than make a cake?!?! The week before, I asked him what kind of cake. Over the next couple of days browsing through my recipes and ones on the internet, I combined a few recipes which, in my opinion, would be amazing and perfect for him! A chocolate layer cake with cheesecake as the middle layer with a ganache-type frosting.

As the days went on, talking to his wife, we decided at the last minute to throw a surprise party for him, and a friend and I would set everything up while they were at church and I would make a cake. On Sunday. The day after his actual birthday, and the day after the gig where he was expecting me to bring a cake. Uh-oh...

Hey! No problem! I will make two cakes! One for Saturday night at the gig, and one for the surprise party on Sunday!

Oh crap. Now I have to find another recipe. One just as good, but not too much. I wanted the big cake to be at the party on Sunday. Back to searching...

I found a recipe for a Duche de Leche Dark Chocolate tart. What a tart was, I was unsure. But it sure sounded good. Even though I kept alternating between thinking “Sweet Tarts” in my head and saying “Torte” out loud, it still sounded good. No problem.

Problem. It called for dulce de leche. I did not really know what that was. From the directions, it sounded like caramel. I have made caramel a couple times. But this took three hours of stirring to make. And I was running out of time and super busy.

I enlisted the help of my roommate to stir. I have my dog in training classes on Thursdays, and I wanted to make it Thursday so if it sucked, I would be able to buy some on my way home Friday night. Also, it takes THREE HOURS to make. I still had to make the cheesecake Friday night so it would be ready for assembly on Saturday for the other cake.
One dozen eggs. Done.

I was pretty excited. I have never cooked so much in one short period of time! As I was writing down all the ingredients and making my shopping list, I realized that I would go through an entire dozen eggs in this adventure! A DOZEN EGGS! I felt like a real cook!

Dulce de Leche
Thursday night, I got the duche de leche on the stove and started two timers, one for three hours and one for eight minutes. Kelly was more than happy to stir. Up, down, up, down every 8 minutes for three hours is a lot to ask of a person. I am very grateful for her willingness! And, Spencer Bean and I were off to learn a few things about sit, down, stay...a word I might as well say in German.  STAY means stand up or sit down or run across the room to this little Beagle of mine...

As I was pulling into the neighborhood, I got a text from her. Oh no, I was horrible or ruined or burnt or gross...but all it said was, “Just so you know, you have 14 minutes till it's done.” Ahhh, sigh of relief. 

 It turned out to be delicious! I poured it in from the pan and was motivated for Friday night's cooking to commence!

Cheesecake Batter
Friday, I made the cheesecake. Can I just say – my new KITCHENAID MIXER is the best thing ever! All the ingredients for the cheesecake were swirled together in a matter of seconds! WOWZERS! Last time I made a cheesecake, it took a good ten minutes or more with the stick blender to get it mixed well.  I couldn't find the bottom of the springform pan, and the recipe said I could just use a pie pan, so that's what I did. 

I then made the dough for the torte. Sweet Tart. NO! The tart. It had to be made, flattened, and refrigerated overnight (there's that word again!). I began to get nervous, it wasn't completely flat and I could not get it into a round shape that would fit in my pie pan.

Saturday was a success. I put the crust in the oven. It was then that I realized that my nervousness was unfounded, the butter in the crust would melt, enabling me to shape it as needed. Ahhh, the joys and stresses of the new cook.

Chocolate Cake Batter
I got the two chocolate cake layers made super easy. (Thanks to my KITCHENAID MIXER!) This batter nearly made me cry it was so good! I could not wait to see how the cake tasted! As the cakes were cooking, I began to construct the tart. The cakes came out of the oven and I put the tart in.

This was a-MAZ-ing! I was seriously cooking!

The cakes cooled, it was time to build the layers. Flip the cheesecake out of the pan. Simple, right? no. not simple.

It came out like this.
Suicide cheesecake.

I got a little hysterical. Okay, I got a lot hysterical. I called a friend for reinforcement, to keep me from climbing to the roof and jumping. Piece it together like a puzzle. It's going to have frosting, and no one will be the wiser. So I proceeded on.

(Must. Find. Springform Pan Bottom.)

Pretty soon, I had a Torte. Sweet Tart. Tart! And a layer cake. I was so excited! The joy of cooking in and of itself is exhilarating. But the joy of cooking for people you love is so much more.

Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche TART
Chocolate Cheesecake
Puzzle Cake

I brought the tart to the gig Saturday night and we shared with everyone! People brought forks to the table and just ate it right out of the pan! There was some left, and they took it home. He thought it was amazing (and his only birthday cake...)
A group noshing party...
Up super early Sunday (thank you daylight savings time for helping me out!), I was off to set up for the party! A friend and I met and we made BLT and turkey-avocado pinwheels. We set up the house, moving chairs and tables. Friends and family came, bringing side dishes and soda. Coffee was brewing. The excitement was a-brewing! As the texts started coming that they were on their way, we gathered in the dining room to hide and yell. They walked in and we heard this:

“Woman, I’m hungry! Can we eat?!”

At which point, we yelled “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

My imperfect-perfect cake
And it was a great party. He was 100% surprised! The food was good, the cake was a hit, and everyone had a great time. Cleaning and doing dishes after everyone left, it was such an amazing feeling to be able to be a part of the celebration.

Let's Party Like Rockstars!
This journey in the kitchen has enabled me to contribute to bringing joy to not just myself, but many people. When I began, I thought I would just be feeding myself. It seems that feeding others is truly the gift. Every part of the planning, from finding out what suits their palate, to finding the perfect recipe and making it to the final delivery brings an inside happiness that is difficult to describe. I feel at peace in the kitchen and an excitement when it is presented. It enables me to connect with people on a very personal level.

1 comment:

  1. awesome! I was excited to find out how you used the dozen, and I'm pleased to learn about the cake and tart. dulce de leche - OMG. I agree, I love the giving that comes with cooking/baking. I love to be the person bringing the cake. It is easy and fun for me to make, and it means a lot to the person receiving it.


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