19 February 2010

The Month of Cake

January and February signal the yearly birthday and anniversary onslaught.  After getting a brief post-holiday breather, it's celebration time once again, beginning with my parents' anniversary in mid-January and stretching on until my younger sister's birthday at the end of February.  No matter how many important dates fall within that period, family tradition wordlessly states that each acknowledgment be accompanied by a minimum of a family gathering and an appropriately-themed cake.  That means a lot of cake.

While cake is not necessarily my dessert of choice, I do enjoy the occasional slice or oh-so-pretty cupcake (all vegan, of course).  And it doesn't take a specialist to distinguish the good from the bad.  Last year, my mother unsurprisingly insisted upon the necessity of cake for my birthday, but having not had the opportunity to acquire a vegan confection, she managed to get me to bake my own cake, despite my attempts to convince her of its triviality.  I whipped up a Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream using the recipes from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Joy of Vegan Baking, filling and topping the chocolate creation with some of the first strawberries of the season from my family's favorite, very local strawberry farm.
Last week, that same insistence upon upholding tradition for my family's acknowledgment of 20-something years of my earthly existence yielded not just one, but two vegan cakes, neither of them a product of my own effort.  The first, a very moist chocolate-orange treat studded with chopped almonds and drenched in rich ganache, was my mother's first attempt at intentionally-vegan baking.  I loved everything about that cake.  Unfortunately, I have no photos to share with you, but believe me, it was pretty fantastic.

Cake No. 2 was a different story.  The day of my birthday, Mom and I set out to collect ingredients for dinner.  While perusing the bakery section of the grocery store, we came upon a small selection of six-inch cakes from Fabe's All Natural Bakery, with three apparently vegan varieties.  My mom, perhaps feeling guilty about the previous year's cake situation and also likely as curious about this prepackaged vegan dessert as I was, had me select a cake, despite having already prepared a perfectly delicious homemade one that morning.  So I chose the Banana Cake; my other options were Carrot Cake and Triple Chocolate, but I'm not a big fan of carrot cake and another chocolate cake wouldn't lend itself to much variety.

I had never heard of Fabe's Bakery until that point.  The Banana Cake that my mom and I took back to the house was labeled as vegan, wheat-free, and like the rest of the company's baked goods, made using all natural ingredients.  Apparently, this cake was meant to be "moist and irresistible."  We wouldn't know whether that claim was true until later that night.
So how did Fabe's cake hold up to Mom's?  The homemade chocolate cake, also vegan and devoid of preservatives, was far superior than the prepackaged Banana Cake from the grocery store.  While the Banana Cake looked cute and pretty with its cream-colored frosting and slivered almonds, once I cut into it, a cross-section revealed layers of a stiff, buttercream-like frosting alternating with dry, dense cake layers.  "Moist and irresistible"?  Unfortunately, no.  Fabe's creation definitely suffered textural problems, and the flavor--akin to banana bread without enough bananas--was tolerable, but not "irresistible."  Although I fully anticipated its inability to upstage anything my mother bakes, the storebought cake was still a disappointment.  I'll stick to cakes that are either homemade or baked fresh on-site.
Because this has been a rare week in February without a birthday cake, a chocolate craving gave me an excuse to--what else?--bake a cake.  Since stumbling across this recipe for Hot Fudge Cake at the Affectioknit blog, I have been waiting for an excuse to try it out.  I gave it a go last night, indulging in the cake's brownie-and-chocolate-pudding-like decadence.
The last of the birthdays is just around the corner, so it is yet to be seen what next week's cake will be.  To be perfectly honest, I don't think I'll mind a break from both the celebrations and the ultra-rich desserts that accompany them...at least for the time being.

5 comments:

  1. Those cakes look delicious!!!!!!! That is alot of birthdays!!!!

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  2. Happy Birthday! Wow, that's a lot of cake! I'm making it a point to NOT bookmark this post for fear of a binge on the chocolaty fudgey gooey goodness! Yum, yum! I'll try to live vicariously through you on this one. ;)

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  3. Thanks! I know, that chocolate is dangerously tempting. Gotta stay away from the sweets for awhile...

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  4. Thanks! I know, that chocolate is dangerously tempting. Gotta stay away from the sweets for awhile...

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  5. Happy Birthday! Wow, that's a lot of cake! I'm making it a point to NOT bookmark this post for fear of a binge on the chocolaty fudgey gooey goodness! Yum, yum! I'll try to live vicariously through you on this one. ;)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)