When you have kids, birthdays mean one thing: cake with candles. Maybe other kids are more into presents, but the Fussy Little Children demand cake. And cake isn’t cake, unless it has candles.
Perhaps you remember I wrote about cake last week too.
But that had less to do with my love for cake than its obvious supremacy over cupcakes. Not that a great cupcake is something to sneeze at. I try to recognize good food in all of its forms.
So my father-in-law just happened to be visiting from Pennsylvania on his birthday, and Mrs. Fussy, having just recently read my little love note to Crisan, decided we should get one of their cakes. Let me tell you, it was pretty fantastic. How fantastic? So fantastic that words can’t do it justice, and thus I’m including pictures.
I was excited because last week while perusing the Crisan website, I was reminded of all the interesting and unusual cakes they make. And I was a bit giddy about the possibilities. But my father-in-law is a simple man with simple tastes. He likes chocolate, he likes vanilla, and he likes butter.
Given these constraints, there were two cakes that looked appealing.
1) Chocolate Striped – Layers of chocolate genoise cake and vanilla butter cream
2) Devil’s Food – Eggless devil’s food cake and chocolate butter cream
Under good authority I was told that generally if you call when the bakery opens at 10 am they can have a cake ready for you by the late afternoon. Although if there is something specific you want, I wouldn’t recommend waiting until the last minute like I did.
I figured with four adults and two children who can eat cake like adults, a cake for six people would be sufficient, and ordered the Devil’s Food. I was asked about allergies, and thankfully was able to say that we didn’t suffer from any. Then the bakery confirmed this would be for an adult and not a child, as to inform their decorating decisions.
The cake would be ready by five o’clock.
Luck was with me because at just a few minutes after five I found a parking spot on Lark Street, and ran in to get the cake. That’s when I got my first surprise.
I had no idea it would be covered with strawberries. They looked beautiful, but I actually wasn’t quite so sure what I thought about them until the woman at the counter passed along a message, “I was told to tell you that the strawberries came from Indian Ladder Farm.”
That’s a lot of gorgeous local and seasonal fruit on top of that cake. In fact there were so many strawberries that the whipped cream frosting totally absorbed some of their perfume.
The kids fought over who would get the cookie that contained the birthday wishes. I suspect those little balls of chocolate are Valrhona pearls. And everyone was able to eat at least one of the decorative dark chocolate leaves.
Now take a close look at those strawberries.
Strawberries should be small. But small strawberries are hard to find. The smaller they are, the greater their intensity. The ripe ones should be deep red all the way through to the center. These seemed to have benefited from being macerated and glazed. Still, it makes them no less stunning.
Chocolate and strawberries is a killer combination. But it’s absolutely devastating when strawberries are in season, and you can get them picked ripe from a local source.
The cake was substantial. As good as it was, there was plenty left over for breakfast the next day and a couple more slices for dessert the next night. It didn’t need to be so big, and I only mention that to help give you a sense of the cake’s value. In my estimation it could have generously served eight adults or portioned into ten very reasonable slices.
All of this was under $20. Did I say “Wow” already? Because, wow.
Next time I need a cake, I’m going to do a little bit more advance planning. But I think it’s fair to say that these are the cakes for me.