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Surprise Cake

June 20, 2011

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.

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.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2011 10:19 am

    That is a gorgeous cake! Getting old doesn’t seem bad at all with that kind of cake to sweeten the blow.

  2. June 20, 2011 10:39 am

    amazing! i got my birthday cake from crisan last year and it was awwwwesome!

  3. June 20, 2011 10:46 am

    If heaven existed, it would be a perpetual birthday party where this cake was served.

  4. June 20, 2011 11:13 am

    Wow. I need to get down to Lark St. more often….

  5. Mike W permalink
    June 20, 2011 8:48 pm

    Pictures on the FLB? Pretty groundbreaking stuff!

  6. June 20, 2011 9:50 pm

    OK – I just had a massive (and delicious) dinner at Katrinella’s, and my mouth is WATERING. YUM.

    (PS – thanks for pointing me to Katrinella’s. My husband and a couple we’re good friends with just had a phenomenal dinner there.)

  7. Annie permalink
    June 20, 2011 10:20 pm

    Wow is right – wow p-h-o-t-o-s, wow c-a-k-e!
    (April might be too long to wait).

  8. Ellen Whitby permalink
    June 20, 2011 11:50 pm

    Did you mean to say “it’s absolutely devastating when strawberries are in season, and you can get them picked ripe from a local source”? I wouldn’t have thought so.

    For my birthday, I ordered in advance but I was a bit more adventurous than you. I ordered the large dessert platter (I’m not sure that’s what they call it) a few days before my birthday. I don’t have allergies but there are things I like more and things I like less. Some might even say I’m fussy. I got a very generous and full platter of mini cakes in different varieties. There were several choices with chocolate – genoise, flourless, devil’s food, plus other flavors, there were different fruit flavorings and there was an abundance of chocolate covered strawberries.

    My intention was to share it with the people I spent my birthday with (there were 7 of us). Lucky for me, they aren’t cake-lovers like I am and I got to eat most of it myself. Now there’s a birthday treat!

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