about bliss

Thursday, July 02, 2009

daily bliss: deliciousness vs. aesthetics

Yesterday morning my new friend N called. "Are you still interested in making my birthday cake?"

For her party...that night. Granted, we had talked about cakes the previous week, but neither of us made definitive plans.

"Sure!" I said, as I set aside my pen and notebook, tied on my apron, and prepared my cake pans.

I've written about the Moosewood Chocolate Cake before, a no-fail, quick, tasty chocolate cake I could have in the oven in 15 minutes. Then, I could whip up an espresso buttercream, and cover the whole brown and tan fantasy in ganache. I would melt white chocolate and fashion a large "N" to decorate the cake.

I saw, very clearly, a classy, clean, elegant cake.

What I got (yes, I'm really using this word...it works in this context) was a messy, lumpy, disheveled cake, with huge cracks tenuously bonded with ganache.

What went wrong?

Bad decisions: wanting to accomplish most everything on my to-do list, I ignored that inner voice that said "the cake is still a little warm. Maybe you should stick it in the fridge before cutting the layers. Or applying frosting."

And I *know* to follow that voice. My intuition is mostly spot on. But, nooooo.

The cake was a mess. I was upset. I went to the gym, and tried to imagine a magically transformed pretty cake awaiting me at home.

Nope. It was still a mess. I tried to shore it up and even the layers before enrobing the lumpiness in ganache.

I was embarrassed. This was a special 50th birthday party! N was planning a great event! My foodie friends T and J would be there too, along with multitudes of strangers!

But, reader, I had no choice. I took the sad cake with me, apologized to N for the ugliness, and left it covered until it was time to serve cake.

N's daughter took many, many photos. N. loved the white chocolate N. Only a handful of people looked at the cake. N told horror stories of cakes and pies gone awry and served anyway. I cut the cake into wedges and slices, and waited.

"Do you sell cakes?"

"What do you call this cake?"

"Did you invent this?"

N said she needed to go in the house and eat her cake alone to truly appreciate it.

And, when I left shortly thereafter, N announced that I was the baker and everyone applauded.

Lessons learned:
1. do *not* disregard intuition
2. deliciousness trumps aesthetics


  1. What a great reminder that perfect appearance is so overrated. I love the white N too by the way :)

  2. There's something to be said for showing up to a party with a fug cake. If you knew it was going to taste horrid, you'd make another (or buy one). But since you showed up with it in tow, everyone knew it had to be delicious. As I'm sure it was.

  3. Anonymous8:00 PM

    It looks homemade, and that's kinda cool. We've all had a beautiful dessert that tasted blah, so deliciousness definitely wins!