Ambivalent Birthday Celebration.

No, this time it wasn’t me. It was my daughter. We were trying to plan her birthday celebration, but we could not get her to nail down the date and time, or what she wanted. Dinner? Weekend trip? Big party? Small gathering? My son-in-law had ordered her gift and I was hiding it. We had a good scenario going for the surprise, in fact, we were very proud of ourselves for the convoluted trickery we had devised. We needed to know if we are doing something on her actual birthday (Wednesday) or on the weekend. The cake order would have been a pain to put together last minute, so I volunteered to make cakes on both days if need be.

The problem is, I don’t make cakes, haven’t in about 30 years. I just happen to not like cake. One of the few I do like is a sponge roll with jam, simple and light. I don’t like frosting either. So I went online to find cake recipes and studied my cookbooks. I chose about eight different types, but none of them really excited me. Then it came to me! I’ll make an Allegretti cake.

Allegretti’s was a bakery in Norridge, Chicago-land. I walked past it every day on the way to and from high school. The beautiful white whipped cream cakes displayed in the window were so pretty in a plain way. After we bought the first one, we were hooked, and never bought a celebration cake from anywhere else. Choices were chocolate or yellow cake, choice of fruit (limited options), we always chose banana and strawberry. The frosting was fresh and white whipped cream with a few flowers on the corner and some script. The inside had a custard or pudding I don’t know, I was a kid, and all I remember is that it was super moist and delicious.

I told Tony (my son-in-law) what I had finally decided to make, along with the back story. I didn’t have a recipe, so I just created it from memory. I made a vanilla pastry cream and a chocolate one. Banana was laid in the chocolate layer and the strawberries in the vanilla cream. I didn’t have round cake pans so I used what I had. No piping tools either. The whipped frosting was a pint of heavy whipping cream with a touch of sugar. Not pretty. I tried to write her name with chocolate syrup, but that turned into a blob. However, I told myself “This is an eating cake, not an eye candy cake”.
I was praying it tasted good.

The moment of truth came, and I brought out the cake. After the comments about its very wonky and unprofessional decorating, my daughter finally cut it open. “Pudding Cake…” then as she removed the first piece exclaimed, ” It’s an Allegretti Cake!” I did it. She knew what I was trying to create here. And it was crazy delicious, everyone ate a huge chunk (Ken had two) and complained that they were too full now. So, that very day, I said from now on, my eating cakes will be served first, with the appetizers. And so it was. And so it is. And so it will forever be. I froze slices and everyone helped themselves to those during the next few days.

My granddaughter who was graduating college was so impressed after tasting a slice, that I told her I’ll design one for her graduation celebration too. She chose her fruits and flavors. Passionfruit pastry cream, pineapple, kiwi, and banana fruit.
I made two, because I made that one up in my head also, and had no idea of portions, etc. (And I needed a back-up if I messed up). My daughter loaned me some piping tips, so it was a smidge prettier that the “Allegretti cake”.

Best appetizer ever! So now I’m going to make eating cakes for personal consumption. Not fancy, but insanely fresh, light, and delicious. I have a few ideas for my very own birthday cake in June. Stay tuned….

And, voila! my pitiful and delicious cake. First attempt.

It says: Happy Birthday La.

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