Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tom's Birthday

January is flying by!  And speaking of flying, this morning I had the pleasure of seeing not just one bald eagle in the tree by the lake, nor just two bald eagles, but two baldies and a golden eagle.  How awesome! 

Since I stayed late in town tonight to attend an evening service, I thought I best take advantage of a few free moments to update this thing, especially since my most recent pictures are already so old, though not as old as Tom! He celebrated a birthday - that was fun and exciting.  He rolled his eyes when he found I took his pillow - the new one he picked out for his birthday after Christmas and couldn't wait to use - off the bed and wrapped it in a box to take to the party.  But at least he stayed out of the house long enough for me to set up a little treasure hunt of treats for him, which I may have had more fun setting up than he had figuring out the clues.  The grand gala was a low-key evening together with the family for cake and ice cream at his parents' house.

The past three years I have made German Chocolate Cake - his request.  I usually make the coconut-y frosting homemade without the pecans, though it wasn't till this year that Thomas pointed out that mine does not look the right color.  Lo and behold, the recipe I use fails to mention toasting the coconut first, which I noticed is step one of every other recipe.  My first step in the whole to-do was to google "Star Wars Birthday Cake".  I wanted to do something fun, something more exciting than the layer cake I've done the same way the past few years, but there was absolutely nothing I could pull off from the images I saw, save for writing "May the Force Be with You" in colored frosting on top.  Then I just looked at images of "German Chocolate Cake", which yielded some interesting pictures of cake.  Scrolling down and down, I saw my challenge - a cake roll.

A cake roll is baked on a big cookie sheet and rolled up with the frosting inside.  There are many techniques, but none explicitly told me what I needed to know - that the cake has to be made with certain proportions (largely in the egg department) to stay together when it rolls.  One recipe used a cake mix, but changed the balance of ingredients added to it instead of following the instructions on the box.  Hindsight is 20-20.  I used the cake box and its instruction up until the part where you pour it into cake pans.  Upon removing it from the oven, I rolled it up in a towel -as instructed - to let it cool.  When you unroll it to frost it, it will roll right back up.  Problem for me is that it never unrolled.  But the cats liked it.

The next day I stocked up on eggs, cake mix, evaporated milk, and anything else I might need in case it took multiple more attempts to pull it off.  Unlike someone who commented on a recipe that failed her, I wasn't going to mash up the bake pieces and frosting and serve a lump of "German Chocolate Cow Pie".  For attempt two I made the cake from scratch.  The first trick is to whip the eggs up real well.  Using my little hand mixer, everything was frothing up beautifully.  UNTIL.  The mixer went berserk, making a loud whining/scratching noise, which caught Tom's attention in the other room.  I immediately turned it off, tried turning it on again, but found it wouldn't go away.  Tom thought it might be a gear or something and suggested sieving the eggs to make sure no little plastic part fell in.  Yeah right - he gave the eggs to the cats, and attempt three began with my good KitchenAide. 

As they say, the third try is the charm.  I got the cake whipped up fine, baked it with the coconut frosting on the bottom of the pan, rolled it up when it came out of the oven, and didn't risk unrolling it again. 


I received the rectangular plate as a gift at Christmas, and in the moment when I thought how perfect it would be, I failed to see that it was really a shade small, but I didn't mind swiping the chocolate frosting that dribbled off the edge and onto the counter.

When flipping the cake out of the pan onto a towel for easy rolling, I opted to use cocoa powder instead of powder sugar.  Then I softened some chocolate frosting to drizzle over the edge, added toasted pecans for those who would enjoy them (easy to pick off for those who couldn't) and a TV of candles.

I am eager to try a couple of other cakes in the cake roll family, particularly a flour-less chocolate cake.  But after making the cake came the waiting to see if it was any good.  The night of the party came, and the cake went.  Maybe I should give myself a little more lead time for next year's dessert.

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