Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Strawberry Cake Warning

I made strawberry cupcakes this weekend for my kid's birthday party. They were delicious and pink; the recipe was from the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook.

I made strawberry cream cheese frosting to go on the cupcakes, and it was also delicious. Except that I tried to get all fancy and put some decorative strawberries on top of the cupcakes.

Er.

I thought I was being Super-Mama and organized, baking and frosting the cupcakes the night before the party. As it turns out, you can't put something liquid-y (like fresh strawberries) onto a soft fragile frosting (like strawberry cream cheese frosting) and expect the frosting to stay the same consistency overnight.

By the time we got to the party, which was held two hours away, the strawberries had melted the frosting.

Sigh.

Warning to bakers: do not put fresh fruit on your cake the night before. Decorative fruit should wait until moments before serving.

My cupcakes tasted delicious despite the melted frosting, but I was reminded of other culinary disasters: for example, the raspberry Charlotte royale that I made for Christmas one year. I spent two days making it, even whipping the egg yolks by hand to make the genoise. I turned the genoise into beautiful, perfectly round cake-and-raspberry-jam spirals. The whole thing was supposed to be stuffed with a firm raspberry mousse, and it was supposed to slice into gorgeous wedges of French culinary wonder. It would have looked something like this:




Except that I screwed up the the raspberry mousse, and it was all runny inside the cake spirals.

My family and friends ate it anyway, but I was devastated. I went back to baking the same old apple pie I made for every holiday, and it took years before I got up the nerve to make another super-fancy dessert.

Apparently my baking skills are rusty. Again.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Happy Birthday or Whatever

There's a new book out called Happy Birthday or Whatever:Track Suits, Kim Chee, and Other Family Disasters, by the insanely talented Annie Choi. I am jazzed to read it. Check out her website for a preview of her style-- she's freaking hilarious. "Entertainment Weekly" liked the book, too. Annie will be reading at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble this week, then on May 1 at KGB with the similarly talented Darcey Steinke, who wrote that awesome story you remember reading in The Dictionary of Failed Relationships.